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For the last two years Beyoncé has owned our hearts and minds – for me, Life Is But A Dream marked a real turning point in the marketing of Queen B, but as far back as 2008 she was telling us that she was going to run the world.
Beyoncé married Jay Z in 2008, her parents split in 2009 (it took them a few years to hammer out the divorce), and in 2011 she dropped her father as her manager. There were widespread reports that Mathew had been taking more than his share – Live Nation tipped her off and she had her lawyers do an audit and found that there was some shady sh-t going down. Her father insisted that Live Nation was trying to poison his relationship with Beyoncé so they could get in on the tour (you can read the legal documents on TMZ).
Publicly, they insist it was a mutual parting. She said that she needed him to be her dad and not her manager, and she’s long maintained that the break was about independence. Until very recently, Beyoncé’s game was tight. If her dad was stealing, it could have gotten very public and very ugly, but it was kept relatively quiet. The focus was never on her father, it was about her being independent and in control of her career.
So Mathew went from manager to dad – we’ve seen this pattern play out many times, and it’s never a clean break with stage parents. Not only do the business interests go deep with record labels and endorsements and contracts, but unless you sever the relationship completely, at some point you will have to sit across the table from this person (or at least pick up every third phone call). And if that parent wants to continue being in the public eye as a member of your family, well, you get Mathew Knowles.
This week, he gave an interview to Houston’s KRBE morning show (you can find the full audio here and a YouTube clip here to promote his upcoming boot camp, The Entertainment Industry: How Do I Get In. (Step 1: have a famous daughter.)
The interview is a goddamn mess; he’s sanctimonious and preachy, and I’m getting a bit of a Joe Jackson vibe. About 10 seconds into it, the DJs mention Beyoncé. Mathew is more than happy to rehash the legend of Destiny’s Child – losing on Star Search as Girl Tyme, Mathew quitting his job to devote his life to making his daughter(s) dreams come true (Solange dabbled with Destiny’s Child but went solo pretty early on) and his role as the dedicated and disciplined manager of DC and then Beyoncé.
Here’s the thing: it’s all true. It is well documented and Beyoncé has acknowledged many times that her dad was strict and helped her become the insanely entertaining robot she is today.
Every stage parent says they encouraged the singing/dancing/performing/acting because it was the kid’s dream and we are a society obsessed with the “follow your dreams!” storyline. But so many of them are like a naïve politician corrupted by the system. They start off with altruistic intentions only to be sucked into the lifestyle. It manifests in a book deal or reality show or clothing line but, more times than not, the parents end up as fame hungry and f-cked up by celebrity as the kids.
Mathew helped Beyoncé realize some of her dreams. He was compensated for it. He was credited for it. Now that he’s no longer part of his daughter’s dream factory, he does not want anyone to forget that he was there first.
Overall, he comes off pretty gross in the interview: he says female artists bring more drama, he refers to himself in the third person, he goes on weird tangents (like that his name is spelled with one T, not two). He's boastful. He says he doesn’t need to worry about retirement. He told the DJ that no matter what her dream was, he was going to make it happen. If she wanted to be a doctor, he would have invested in a hospital. (Or maybe she could have just gone to med school?) He says that he loves TMZ (despite the fact that they are constantly posting about his paternity issues and they bought the elevator video). He’s all over the f-cking place.
So of course the DJs had to go there. Even though he seems removed from her day-to-day life, you can’t help them for asking about the elevator incident.
They tread lightly and you think something reasonable is coming like, “They’ve already put the situation behind them and everything is fine.” Or, “All families have their difficulties and we’ve moved past it.” Or, “They’ve addressed the issue and I don’t have anything to add to it.” Any version of that would be OK.
But Mathew decides to pull out… Jedi mind tricks. What. The. F-ck?! He says, “a Jedi mind trick fools you a lot of times.” The DJs ask if the elevator video was a “Jedi mind trick” and he goes on to strongly insinuate that yes, it was a publicity stunt to ignite the tour and he says that ticket sales went up and Solange’s album sales went up by 200% (not sure if that’s accurate, but Mathew thinks it is).
Maybe this is a very miscalculated attempt at making it seem like his daughters are completely in control, or maybe he’s trying to make them look foolish. It seems more likely that he’s overcompensating for being shut out and trying to offer insight into a situation he knows nothing about by pretending that he knows exactly what they are doing. He wants us to think he’s in on the plan.
Maybe (a big maybe) they are manufacturing some of the marriage trouble drama for publicity, but there is no one way that elevator fight was a premeditated attempt to raise ticket sales. And why out of all things would you choose a violent family altercation to promote a tour? Wouldn’t they leak a pregnancy rumour or something? His theory makes ZERO sense. That footage leaking has cracked the Beyoncé brand. It might not be irreparable, but it certainly wasn’t calculated.
And here’s the thing: he didn’t have to dredge all this up. I’m sure he could have requested a “no family” or “no Beyoncé” caveat but he didn’t because he has nothing else to talk about. He is not a manager that has had success with multiple acts; he’s a guy who had an extremely talented performer land in his lap. And that’s not to say he didn’t instill discipline and an insane work ethic – he and Tina most certainly did – but Mathew was basically handed a diamond and figured out how to polish it. And that’s the truth of it.
In this context – an interview – the most interesting thing about Mathew Knowles is Beyoncé Knowles, and he knows it. That’s why he won’t turn it off.
So the DJs keep circling back to Beyoncé. And Mathew gleefully obliges.
He says he’s still the manager of Destiny’s Child and there might be a new album and a tour – Destiny’s Child featuring Beyoncé, Kelly and Michelle. Oh God is it holograms? Please don’t let it be holograms.
Maybe they are reuniting for an album and a tour, but Beyoncé dropped an entire visual album with zero promotion or leaks – are you telling me that she’s going to let this buffoon blow her big reveal? Mathew Knowles SIT DOWN.
He also said Beyoncé calls him every Sunday. I wouldn’t be waiting by the phone this weekend, Mathew with one T.>