Claiming management was behind the rift that ultimately split apart 3LW, ex-member Naturi Naughton elaborated Thursday on the messy incident that led her to leave just weeks before the R&B trio releases their second album.
"There was an argument between me and Michelle [Williams]," the 18-year-old singer told MTV News, referring to the group's manager, who is also member Kiely Williams' mother. "And Kiely and Adrienne [Bailon, the group's third member,] are cursing me out, and before I know it, Kiely throws her plate of food all in my face — mashed potatoes, macaroni all in my hair, down my clothes, messing up my [hair]do! Nobody has the right to hit me. That's not what I'm here for, ... to be physically abused. So I said, 'Get me a flight back to Newark, New Jersey,' and they wouldn't even help me get a ticket" (see "3LW Become 2LW: Naturi Says She's Out Of Group").
The remaining members of 3LW refuted Naughton's claims in a statement issued via their label, Epic, who will release A Girl Can Mack in October (see "3LW Working Overtime Before Macking"). "We've been disappointed by the comments Naturi has made. ... Like most girlfriends, we've had our share of differences. However, at no time was Naturi subjected to any physical abuse. We totally deny claims made against us."
Naughton also claimed to have endured months of mounting tensions between the group's management and herself. "For a long time the girls of 3LW were tight — that wasn't the problem," she said. "It was a push by management, who always had something about Naturi. They said, 'We need to get her out, you guys would be better off.' As if I'm bringing the group down and holding them back. All this stuff about how I don't fit the Girl Can Mack image. But I think it's crazy that they were trying to split up what was strong, what was successful. And they did it."
She said efforts to force her out included complaints about her choice of clothing, decisions to keep her from singing on upcoming songs, and even a suggestion that Naughton announce her plans to leave the group in order to attend college. The singer said she tried to smooth things over but that she refused to cooperate with any cover-up. "The fans are gonna know that that's a lie. And I don't think I should have to lie to protect the 3LW image. That doesn't benefit me."
"If I think something is wrong, I'm going to say it," Naughton continued. "And my opinion might have challenged the amount of control Michelle Williams had. Whenever any member of 3LW, not just me, challenged her, they were bound to get in trouble. ... I remember conversations where Adrienne said, 'Don't say anything. I'm not saying anything. I'm not getting kicked out of the group.' And when I heard that, I'm like, 'Aren't we supposed to be in this to make the fans happy, to make records, to sing, to dance?' That's why I'm here. Why is it that we're trying to impress management if we're selling records."
In 3LW's statement, Kiely defended the group's management and said there is no conflict of interest caused by the fact that their manager is her mother. "Those who know us know that she would not hesitate to check me when needed. ... We hope to resolve our differences shortly so we can all go on with our lives."
And although her former singing partners will be going on with their group, Naughton was reluctant to place all the blame on their shoulders. "When I really think about it, I know there was a lot of pressure on Kiely and Adrienne to make a decision," Naturi explained. "Either 3LW goes on, keeps making platinum-plus records, and gets a new member, or they stay loyal to their friend and there's no more 3LW.
"They were under the impression that management had so much control, that [they] could stop all this. And the pressure basically turned them against me. It made them feel like they had no other choice but to terminate me from the group."