"Do You Know"
Released: December 20, 2003 (2003-12-20)
Do You Know is the second album by American R&B and gospel singer Michelle Williams, released on January 26, 2004 via Sanctuary/Columbia Records. Do You Know "straddles between contemporary gospel and inspirational R&B" and is described as portraying "a more intimate side of Michelle". It contains a greater percentage of mid and up-tempo songs, along with a much heavier and grander use of live instrumentation. Williams contributed lyrically to the album as she did with her debut album, co-writing a total of six songs. However, Do You Know is much more diverse, lyrically, than its predecessor Heart to Yours, covering the themes of "spiritual" and "carnal" love and contains retrospective songs about Williams' career thus far, whilst still retaining the inspirational and encouraging lyrics that characterised Heart to Yours.
In the US, Do You Know found fair success on Billboard's component charts; peaking at number two on the Gospel Albums chart, number three on the Christian Albums chart and number twenty-eight on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. However, the album peaked at one-hundred-and-twenty on the Billboard 200, making it Williams' lowest-charting album. Though the album was well received by critics, it sold only 10,000 copies in its first week of release. Despite this, the album was later re-released, including two new tracks and has now sold over 78,000 copies in the US alone as of 2008. The album gained Williams a nomination for "Best Gospel Act" at the 2004 MOBO Awards.
After becoming the first member of Destiny's Child to release a solo album in 2002 (Heart to Yours), Williams did not wait long to start work on its follow-up in 2003. Due to the success of Heart to Yours, which topped the US gospel albums chart and became the best-selling gospel album of 2002, anticipation was high for Williams' second album. Before taking over the lead role in the Broadway musicalAida on November 18, 2003, Williams began working on the album.
Williams told MTV that she couldn't "wait for the world to hear [her] new solo album", describing it as "fresher", "more inspirational" and "more on the secular side". Furthermore, she stated "whether it's gospel or not, I wrote about it", therefore expecting "some of her gospel fans to be a little upset" but wanted to "keep it real". She also discussed one of the album's "primary themes" – "what it's like to be in love" – explaining "[I talk about] mistakes you make when you're in love and how they affect your life" after saying "I was able to experience some things this year and I wrote about them." In describing the album during another interview, this time for GospelCity, Williams said "these songs are just about the real me" and that she "just wrote from [her] heart" before acknowledging that "it didn't turn out to be as 'gospel-ly' as some would have liked", but "the stuff" that's on the album "is stuff [she] went through". Williams then said "this whole album is about God's love and me". After being asked "Michelle, as people listen to the album, Do You Know, as they get acquainted with the songs, what are you hoping to bring to their lives?", Williams responded "That everybody live in peace and not settle for anything less than what the Lord wants to bring your way. I know what I went through, I know God is taking me to another level. I had people around me that were not going where I was going – I had to release them from my life."
On Do You Know, Williams worked with an even greater variety of producers than she did for her debut album. Producers include; PAJAM, Dawkins & Dawkins, Tommy Sims, Solange Knowles, bandmate Beyoncé Knowles and Williams' brother Erron Williams. As with her debut, Williams contributed greatly to the songwriting of the album, co-writing a total of six tracks on the album.
First released on January 26, 2004,Do You Know preceded the release of Destiny's Child's fourth and final regular studio album Destiny Fulfilled, making Williams the only member of the group to release more than one solo album in the group's hiatus. Williams promoted the album during various TV appearances and live performances, some of the most notable include; live performances of "Do You Know" (the album's first single) and "Purpose In Your Storm" on various TBN programs and a live performance of a newly arranged version of "The Way of Love" on Regis & Kelly. Notably, Williams also performed "Do You Know" live on the 2004 Soul Train Music Awards and throughout the Destiny Fulfilled ... And Lovin' It world concert tour – which visited 16 countries throughout Australia, Asia, Europe, and North America with 67 dates in total. A video and audio recording of one such performance of "Do You Know", recorded in Atlanta was included on the Destiny's Child: Live in Atlanta 2006 DVD release, which has since been re-issued on Blu-ray. "Do You Know" was also promoted with the filming and release of a music video for the song.
Critical reviews of the album were generally favorable. Kwaku of Cross Rhythms wrote that "Michelle seems happy to produce music which straddles between contemporary gospel and inspirational R&B" and thus "she certainly isn’t going to have problems facing the congregation when she attends church". Kwaku also wrote that "Purpose In Your Storm" has the potential to cross over like Mary Mary's "Shackles (Praise You)"" before commenting that the album ends gloriously with Destiny's Child's impressive, inspirational, mid-tempo socio-conscious song "I Know"". Sony of GospelCity.com described the album as a "beautifully written", "very wonderfully produced gospel album that in some places is a throwback to a Duke Ellington jazz minuet, in others it's a fast paced hip-hop laced gospel after-party, and in others it's a beautiful testimony of a woman at the well". Sony praised Williams' "inimitable sopralto stylings" on "Purpose In Your Storm", with its "whirlwind of percussive tools" and "jolting acoustics", also noting the "aptly penned" "15 Minutes", the "gospel slow jam" "Love Thang", the "stomping" "Movement" and "The Way of Love" as "other highlights" on the album. Sony then went on to comment that "the true highlight of this album is Michelle's unique, yet beautiful, timbre and her magnificent song writing", writing that "songs like The Incident and Never be the Same are very heavily written and at some point require some thought to actually understand".
Caroline Sullivan of The Guardian however gave a more mixed review, writing that Williams has been left "languishing on the starting block" by bandmates Beyoncé Knowles and Kelly Rowland, before commenting that "Do You Know? doesn't provide the running start" that Williams "needs". Sullivan then noted that "the long arm of the Knowles family extends into every cranny – dad Mathew produces, sister Solange co-writes, Beyoncé bellows – but their efforts produce surprisingly diluted secular R&B". On the contrary though, Sullivan wrote that "Williams's strength is a shimmery jazz lilt, put to beguiling use on the sunny Purpose in Your Storm and Never Be the Same". Emily Sogn of PopMatters also praised "Never Be The Same", for its "bouncy synth bass" and "Williams's sweetly plaintive vocals", likening Williams' "pleasingly slow paced" "singing style" on the song "to her pop contemporaries like Ashanti and Janet Jackson". Sogn also described the "radio-friendly head shaker" "The Incident" as a "high point" on the album, praising it for "showcasing Williams's syrupy warble to good effect". Sogn praised "15 Minutes" for its "compelling" "subject matter", commenting that "the song showcases what sounds like a sincere ambivalence to her success, musing about what might have been, perhaps in an attempt to empathize with former Destiny's Child members LeToya and LaTavia, who were dumped off the roller coaster before the band hit its peak just before she joined in 2000". Sogn also described "No One Like You" as "similarly successful", due to its "gospel feel", "start-stop harmonized vocals and clap-worthy rhythm". Sogn concluded her review by describing the album as "a decent, yet not spectacular sophomore effort", noting that "while it might not enough to ensure her a successful career outside of her contributions to Destiny's Child, it isn’t without its particular merits and shining moments".People magazine commented that "there is a contemporary R&B sound" to the album "that wouldn't be out of place on secular radio" and noted that "The Movement" "has a hip-hop vibe, while glossy ballads like "The Way of Love" sound like they could be Destiny's Child slow jams".
Entertainment Weekly editor Chris Willman rated the album B- and highlighted the artistic growth on the album. Comparing it to its predecessor he wrote "this second solo foray into contemporary spirituals vastly improves upon her godforsaken 2002 debut" and that "both the beats and girlish chops feel more seasoned, even if she'll always be more R&B minimalist than the gospel powerhouse she aspires to be".
Like its predecessor, Do You Know achieved its greatest commercial success on Billboard's component charts. Almost topping the Gospel Albums chart, the album peaked at number two, where it had its longest chart run, staying on the chart for 20 weeks, resulting in its placement at number twenty-five on Billboard's Year-End Gospel Albums chart. Meanwhile, the album peaked at number three on Billboard's Christian Albums chart, remaining on the chart for six weeks and peaked at number twenty-eight on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, where it spent a total of five weeks. However, Do You Know only managed to hold one week on the main US albums chart – the Billboard 200 – where it peaked at a disappointing one-hundred-and-twenty. According to Billboard.com, as of 2008, the album has sold 78,000 copies.
Mixing – Danny Leake, Ced C, Joey Fernandez, Dabling Harward, Todd Kozey, Bryan Lenox, Dave Pensado, Tony Shepperd, Larry Sturm
Music Producers – Paul "PDA" Allen, Cedric Caldwell, Victor Caldwell, Anson Dawkins, Eric Dawkins, Troy Johnson, Beyoncé Knowles, Solange Knowles, Loren McGee, PAJAM, Eric Pullins, Tommy Sims, Tim Weatherspoon, Erron Williams
Vocal Producers – Angie Winans, Michelle Williams, Karees Brown, Jesse Campbell, Anson Dawkins, Eric Dawkins, Steve Goldsmith, Tommy Sims