LONG BEFORE LEMONADE, BEYONCÉ explored the themes of self-confidence and gender equality as the lead singer of Destiny’s Child, co-writing the girl group’s pay-what-you-owe anthem “Bills, Bills, Bills.” On July 17, 1999, the track became the first of its four No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100.
Initially a quartet, the Houston-based act – Beyoncé, LaTavia Roberson (both 17 when the song topped the chart), LeToya Luckett and Kelly Rowland (who were 18) – was overseen by Mathew Knowles, Beyoncé’s father and the foursome’s manager. Blending R&B and pop with potent girl-power lyrics, Destiny’s Child’s first success was with its eponymous 1998 debut album, which spawned the No. 3 Hot 100 hit “No, No, No.” “Bills” was the first single off its follow-up, The Writing’s on the Wall, which yielded a second No. 1, “Say My Name.”
However, with success came internal strife. In 2000, Luckett and Roberson left after clashing with the senior Knowles over finances and other matters, and filed multiple lawsuits. They were replaced by Farrah Franklin, who departed after five months, and Michelle Williams. As a trio, Destiny’s Child racked up even more chart successes, including its first No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in 2001, Survivor, and six more Hot 100 top 10s (two of them No. 1s), with “Independent Women, Pt. I” the group’s longest-reigning chart-topper: 11 weeks in 2000-01.
The threesome disbanded to pursue solo projects before reuniting for a fourth LP, Destiny Fulfilled, in 2004. Despite a farewell performance at the 2006 NBA All-Star Game, it performed together when Beyoncé headlined the Super Bowl XLVII halftime show in 2013.
As a solo artist, Beyoncé has achieved six No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200, including Lemonade (May 14), and five No. 1 singles on the Hot 100. Forbes recently named her and husband Jay Z the highest-paid celebrity couple of 2016 with estimated earnings of $107.5 million.