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TLC

TLC

R&B group

At a Glance

First T-Boz and Left Eye, Then Chilli

Personal and Professional Distractions Postponed Production

Released Crazysexycool

The Challenge

Members Pursued Other Interests

Selected discography

Sources

When TLC burst upon the scene with their colorful clothes, preaching safe sex and promoting equality, no one knew what to expect. The three young women in TLC, a trio known for its hip-hop spin on the R&B revival known as New Jill Swing: Tionne T-Boz Watkins, Lisa Left Eye Lopes, and Rozonda Chilli Thomas embraced the opportunity to influence the lives of the young women who buy their records. Their music had a message, but TLC longed to do more: We want to go to middle schools and high schools, Thomas told J. R. Reynolds of Billboard, and let people know about life from someone their age. Sometimes were all that kids havethey might not have that sister or auntie to talk to. The threesome stuck to this path through a fair amount of scandal.

The group was much in the public eyenot just because their 1992 debut album, Ooooooohhh On the TLC Tip, sold four million copies, but also because they achieved that success while radically redefining the R&B girl group. While past trios, exemplified by the legendary Supremes and contemporary incarnations including Destinys Child and SWV, presented themselves as sultry and sophisticated, TLC burst onto the music scene with baggy, boyish clothes and a hip-hop attitude borrowed from male ensembles.

TLC approached the usual musical topicslove and sexfrom an unusual angle, opting to talk directly to young women about self-assertive-ness and self-protection. Left Eye earned her nickname for the habit of wearing a condom over the left lens of her glasses, while all three used the colorful packages to accessorize. Young black women were watching them; Joan Morgan declared in Vibe, The trio damn near led a grassroots womanist revolution, banji-girl style.

Self-confidence is something all three singers had to learn themselves before they could begin to communicate with others. Each also attributed that struggle to her fathers limitations as a parent. While Lopess relationship with her father, who died in 1991, was characterized by violence, Thomas and Watkins essentially lacked fathers: Thomass was absent altogether and Watkinss might as well have been. Its better just not to have one at all, Watkins commented to Tonya Pendleton when encouraged to talk about her father in YSB. Let the family replace the love that the father couldnt give. Consequently, Watkinss motherwho bore her daughter in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1970provided the groundwork for Tionnes self-esteem. Watkinss earliest experience as a singer was nurtured by her mother, with whom she would sing in church. In the ensuing years, she saw music as a route away from the drudgery

At a Glance

Born Lisa Left Eye Lopes, on May 27, 1971, in Philadelphia, PA; died April 25, 2002, in Honduras; born Rozonda Chilli Thomas, on February 27, 1971, in Atlanta, GA; born Tionne T-Boz Watkins, on April 26, 1970, in Des Moines, IA. Watkins: married D. Rolison (aka Mack 10, rapper); children: one daughter. Thomas: children: Tron. Lopes: children: adopted Snow. Education: (Thomas) Georgia Southern University, attended two years, fashion design.

Career: Group formed in 1991 in Atlanta; signed with LaFace Records; released debut album, Ooooooohhh On the TLC Tip, LaFace/Arista, 1992; released Cra-zySexyCooI, LaFace/Arista, 1994; Fan Mail, LaFace Arista, 1999; appeared in film House Party 3 and contributed to soundtrack for Poetic Justice,

Address: Record company LaFace Records, One Capital City Plaza, 3350 Peachtree Rd., Ste. 1500, Atlanta, GA 30326-1040.

of a regular job, which she pursued for a while in the beauty trade, working as a hair model, a shampoo girl, and a manicurist.

Thomas was able to move away from the projects through the support of her mother, who was 17 at her daughters birth, and her great-grandmother. The native Atlantan first set her sights on the fashion industry, spending two years at Georgia Southern University. She was faced with a choice between fashion and entertainment when an offer to manage a store and one to dance for a hip-hop artist came at the same time. She went with the dancingwhich brought her to the attention of R&B singer and producer Pebbles.

Lopess story has received the most attention. Born in Philadelphia in 1971, she was reared by an abusive man who, paradoxically, also helped her to see her own talent and strength. My dad was real strict, she recalled for Vibe. He was in the military, and he treated me, my sister, my brother, and my mother like we were in boot camp. He looked at me like I was the brightest, and expected more from me. I always got beaten before they did. She also informed Morgan that her father bonded with her through alcohol, explaining that my father is responsible for my drinking. He gave me my first drink, and my hundredth drink.

Lopess father was also a positive force in recognizing the girls gifts. She taught herself to play piano by age five. In her teen years, she demonstrated ability as a composer, writer, visual artist, designer, and rapper. She honed her performance skills in talent shows and offered her expertise behind the scenes at various venues. But she was also having trouble at home, as the many times she ran away as a teenager illustrate. She left permanently at 17, ending up in Atlanta with a boyfriend. Before she joined TLC three years later, she had been forced to support herself by any means necessary, as she told Vibe.

First T-Boz and Left Eye, Then Chilli

TLC was formed in 1991 by the CCrystalwho faded from sight when Watkins and Lopes discovered that they worked better together without her. The duo also met Pebbles that year; she became their manager. Pebbles had a good deal of sway with L. A. Reidher husband at the timeand one of the founders of Atlanta-based LaFace Records. A recording contract followed. Rozonda Thomas came on board soon after, discovered by Pebbles while rehearsing a dance routine for a Damian Dane music video. Thomas added a different kind of vocal skill and dance experience; she choreographed TLC videos and live performances. Her look also complemented the territory already mapped by Watkins and Lopes; where Tionne is almost like a guy, songwriter and producer Dallas Austin told Vibe, Chilli is a girl. And Lisa has always been pretty much rebellious.

We all have our parts, Thomas told BRE, our own areas and we respect them. I dont try to rap and Left Eye doesnt try to sing, but we all dance. Jeff Lorez commented in Blues and Soul that they had the perfect blendLeft Eyes rebellious, outrageous rhymes, T-Bozs cooled out, nonchalant vocals and Rozonda Chilli Thomass sweet, soulful cooing. Vibe went into greater detail, trying to capture the distinct quality that each woman provided. T-Bozs raspy harmonies are the funk, Morgan wrote, the voice of the blue-collar sister who works hard during the week, parties her a** off on Friday, saves the lovin for Saturday, and makes it to church every Sunday morning. Lisas rap is the grit, the sound of the urban street that grounds the group. Morgan pegged Thomass voice as the one that personifies the magic of falling inand makinglove.

When Ooooooohhh On the TLC Tip hit the market in 1992, listeners welcomed it enthusiastically, both for how it rode the New Jill Swing trend and for how it disrupted it. The instant excitement over TLCs look and sound prompted Morgan to argue that the album put LaFace Records on the map. Looking back at the debut, Los Angeles Times writer Dennis Hunt recalled that when the trio burst on the hip-hop scene, it was a breath of fresh air, bringing a cocky, macho sensibility to the prissy girl-group genre A wacky, cartoonish quality coupled with a reckless inhibition made that debut something special. Watkins pointed out in BRE that they had proven that you dont have to wear tight slinky outfits to make it. We stand up for the (girl groups) who always wanted to dress like this, but couldnt. We didnt show a stitch of our skin and we made it.

The album became, as Alan Light wrote in Rolling Stone, a New Jill Swing gem. It did so, at least in part, on the basis of its run of chart-topping singles. Aint 2 Proud 2 Beg and What About Your Friends each reached the number two spot on Billboards R&B singles chart, becoming, respectively, platinum and gold. Baby Baby Baby also went platinum and took the number one spot. These songs traded the usual girl-group fare of broken hearts and tortuous seduction for a determination to have women free themselves from the labels given to those who dare to assert themselves sexually, according to Word Up! magazine. Light lavished praise on the groups independent, street-level feminism, while YSBs Pendleton noted that although the seriousness of their safe-sex message could have distanced potential fans, their openness and sense of humor about the necessity of condoms made them even more popular.

Personal and Professional Distractions Postponed Production

An unexpectedly long hiatus intervened between Tip and the groups second full-length production. Some of the distraction was work-related: they appeared in the film House Party 3 and contributed a song to the soundtrack for the film Poetic Justice; they exposed audiences to their hyperactive live act while on tour with Hammer in 1992 and Bobby Brown in 1993. Furthermore, despite the success of the first album, the trio decided that they needed a different management direction, consequently ending their professional relationship with Pebbles. They stayed with LaFace Records, but began working instead with manager Hiriam Hicks. Lopes also moved into management herself, dedicating a portion of her time to Left Eye Management, which sponsored young hip-hop performers.

Unfortunately, however, much of the two-year period was lost to personal problemsand most of these were Lopess. After Lopes met Atlanta Falcons football player Andre Rison in the spring of 1993, the two began an intense, tumultuous relationship, with Lopes moving into Risons mansion in the suburbs outside of Atlanta. The relationship escalated to Lopess arrest for burning Risons home. Soon after, she entered a rehab clinic to seek treatment for alcohol abuse, suggesting that her drinking had played a role in what had happened.

There is no damn way in the world, Lopes argued in Vibe, I would have intentionally started that fire. I lived in that house for a whole year. I had a years worth of time invested in that house, that relationship. Anybody with common sense should know that there were stories behind what happened. Lopes attempted to fill out the picture a few days after the fire, giving police photographs of herself with bruises on her face. Similarly, several observers have argued that the fire was Lopess effort to fight back in an abusive relationship. Label head L. A. Reid has concurred with this view, telling Vibe that Lisa is a victim more than anything. People have got to ask themselves how there can be a fight between an All-Pro athlete and a little girl. Its hard, because in Lisas head, her relationship is not an abusive relationship but a relationship where something bad happened. Rison forgave Lopes for the arson and the two continued their on-again, off-again relationship for several years.

On December 29, 1994, Lopes pleaded guilty to destroying Risons million-dollar home. According to People, she was sentenced to several months in a halfway house and five years probation. She was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine, undergo treatment for alcohol abuse, and receive battered-woman counseling. [Rison admitted in court to hitting Lopes]. Lloyds of London also wanted to collect money from Lopes for the destruction of Risons mansion, and this, along with money mismanagement, forced the group to file for bankruptcy.

Released Crazysexycool

When production did get under way for a second album, TLC and their producers found themselves struggling with trying to top the success of the first. Since the debut album had displayed a particularly young character, the three had to demonstrate growth in order not to appear stagnant beside their maturing fans, but they couldnt change so drastically that they abandoned that audience. Ultimately, changes made for the album included more than just growth in musical style. The hardest part about coming out this time was thinking about our clothes, because our image was as big as our music, Thomas told Sonia Murray of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. My challenge, said Reid, who acted as creative director for Crazysexycool, according to Vibe, was to give their fans good music but allow TLC to grow in a way that would keep them around. I want them to be larger than just hip-hop. I want them to be thought of as true creative forces.

One decision found the three showing more skinon the album cover and in videosthan they had before. They generally pursued a more mature approach to sexuality, expressing this in the albums title. Crazy-sexycool is a word we created to describe whats in every woman, Lopes told Vibe. Crazysexycool also found the artists more involved in their own recording; Lopes, who had always written her own raps, contributed the songs Waterfalls and Kick Your Game and joined in the actual production of the record. Water-falls would became a hit single during the summer of 1995, and is considered by many to be one of the greatest songs of all time.

When Crazysexycool hit the market late in 1994, it immediately took the number two spot on the R&B chart. Critics waxed poetic over the groups growth. Writing for People, Jeremy Helligar declared that the sharp funk and libidinous R&B of Crazysexycool easily outgrooves its predecessors sloganeering bubblegum hip-hop. Billboards Reynolds reported that the musical evolution of TLC is marked by stronger voices, closer harmonies, and tighter raps and Times Christopher John Farley found the vocals stronger and the melodies more piquant than on the first album. David Sprague, covering the release for Fanfare, argued that TLCs second album reaffirms that the three members arent cut from the same designer-showroom cloth as most contemporary dance acts. Every note of Crazysexycool is invested with plainspoken approachability that makes TLC sound like libido-conscious girls next door, rather than genetically engineered fantasy objects. Crazysexycool also spawned the hits Creep and Red Light Special and spent numerous weeks in the pop top ten.

The trio seemed bent on shaping its growth with an eye toward the message they send to young women; while remaining uncompromisingly frank about sexualityinsisting that women can make the moves and draw the linesTLC still maintained that the most important thing was a young womans self-esteem and self-determination. Talking with YSB, Watkins reiterated her commitment to female autonomy: Even if I married a rich man, I would never quit and just let him take care of me. We have all met [men], whether they were selling drugs or whatever, with hell-a-money, and we could have been set up a long time ago. But everybody dont want to do it like that.

The Challenge

As fans eagerly awaited the release of their third album, conflict arose again, this time between the group themselves. Lopes, according to the Seattle Times, had sent LaFace a letter stating that she was quitting. She had missed rehearsals and interviews. Watkins and Thomas discussed Lopess actions in Entertainment Weekly, which prompted Lopes to send a letter discussing her displeasure at the two members airing of dirty laundry. She issued The Challenge with the release of a three-cd (of each member) box set and each member releasing a single simultaneously and the winner would be the one whose single sold the most.

The release of the trios album, Fan Mail, did not improve the situation. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Lopes stated: Im not really feeling TLC. Even concertgoers could see, hear, and feel the tension between the threesome. As the tour went on, the group found a middle ground, and became unified again. Lopes, commenting in the Constitution, It feels like a renewal right now. Like were starting all over again.

Fan Mail met with favorable reviews. According to the Daily News, Thomas said the album was the most personal album the trio has made because it reflects experiences and emotions the group faced in the years since TLC became known around the world. Fan Mail was produced by some of R&Bs biggest producers, including Babyface, Dallas Austin, and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. The group released four singles, Silly Ho, No Scrubs, Unpretty, and No Lie. No Scrubs and Unpretty both achieved gold status. The group won two Grammy awards, one for Best R&B Performance by a Duo/Group for No Scrubs and another for Best R&B album, in addition to numerous other awards and honors.

Members Pursued Other Interests

Each member began branching out into different areas. Watkins published a book of poetry, titled Thoughts, in 1999. She has also made the top 40 list with her single, Touch Myself from the soundtrack of the film, Fled. Watkins had another hit song off the Rugrats In ParisThe Movie soundtrack, My Getaway. She made her solo film debut in the controversial film, Belly. Watkins also married rapper Mack 10 and gave birth to a baby girl.

Thomas has also begun acting, appearing in movies, including, Hav Plenty, Snow Day, A Divas Christmas Carol, and Ticker. She was the first of the trio to give birth. She and then-boyfriend, producer Dallas Austin, celebrated the arrival of a son, Tron. Thomas has expressed joy at becoming a mother and told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: When [Tron] gets to kindergarten, Im through (with TLC). Thats just the way its going to be.

Lopes was approached to host MTVs The Cut, in 1998. She also appeared in rapper Lil Kims remix of her single, Ladies Night, and on pop group NSyncs song, Space Cowboy. Lopes discovered the group, Blaque, and helped to develop them. She also began making frequent trips to Honduras, and alarmed many when she failed to show up for a scheduled appearance and no one could locate her. She had completed her solo album, Supernova, which was only released internationally. Upset over her album not being released in the United States, she joined Suge Knights Tha Row Records under N.I.N.A. or New Identity Non-Applicable. She also adopted a little girl named Snow.

The group began recording their fourth album and were scheduled to complete it in 2001, when Watkins became ill due to sickle cell anemia. She stayed in the hospital for two months recovering. On April 25, 2002, Lopes was killed in a car crash in Honduras. Many were shocked at the rappers sudden death.

Watkins and Thomas released a statement, quoted at Rock On the Net Online: We had all grown up together and were as close as family. Today we have truly lost our sister. The two remaining members have decided not to replace Lopes, but will continue work on the fourth album. A greatest hits album is also in the works.

Selected discography

Ooooooohhh On the TLC Tip (includes Baby Baby Baby, What About Your Friends, and Aint 2 Proud 2 Beg), LaFace/Arista, 1992.
Crazysexycool (includes Creep, Waterfalls, Kick Your Game, and Red Light Special), LaFace/Arista, 1994

Fan Mail (includes Silly Ho, No Scrubs, Unpretty, and No Lie), LaFace/Arista, 1999.

Sources

Books

Contemporary Musicians, Volume 15. Gale Research, 1995.

Periodicals

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 14, 1994; February 28, 1999; March 5, 1999; April 1, 1999; February 7, 2000; June 15, 2000; September 29, 2000.

Billboard, October 1, 1994.

Black Beat, February 1995.

Blues and Soul, December 13-26, 1994.

BRE, December 9, 1994.

Details, March 1995.

Entertainment Weekly, November 18, 1994; December 9, 1994.

Fanfare, November 27, 1994.

Fresno Bee, (Fresno, CA), January 16, 2000.

Gavin, December 2, 1994.

Jet, June 27, 1994.

Los Angeles Times, November 13, 1994.

Mademoiselle, January 1995.

Network Forty (Burbank, CA), November 4, 1994; January 16, 1995.

People, June 27, 1994; December 5, 1994.

Rolling Stone, May 28, 1992.

Seattle Times, January 6, 2000; January 11, 2000.

St. Louis Dispatch, May 3, 2002.

Star Ledger, (Newark, NJ), April 27, 2002.

Star Tribune, (Minneapolis, MN), February 28, 1999.

Time, December 19, 1994.

United Press International, December 1, 1999.

Vibe, November 1994.

Word Up!, January 1, 1995.

YSB, June/July 1994.

On-line

All Music guide, www.allmusic.com

Internet Movie Database, imdb.com

Rock On the Net Online, www.rockonthenet.com

Ondine E. La Blanc and Ashyia N. Henderson

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TLC

TLC

R&B/hip-hoptrio

For the Record

Difficult Backgrounds

Shook Up the New Jill Swing

Demonstrated Growth on Crazysexycool

Selected discography

Sources

Many celebrities with teenage followings welcome the support of those fans, but simultaneously insist that they shouldnt have to act as role models. This is not the case, however, with the three young women in TLC, a trio known for its hip-hop spin on the R&B revival known as New Jill Swing. Tionne T-Boz Watkins, Lisa Left Eye Lopes, and Rozonda Chilli Thomas embrace the opportunity to influence the lives of the young women who buy their records. Their music has a message, but TLC longs to do more; We want to go to middle schools and high schools, Thomas told J. R. Reynolds of Billboard, and let people know about life from someone their age. Sometimes were all that kids havethey might not have that sister or auntie to talk to. The threesome have even stuck to this path through a fair amount of scandalmost notably Lopess arrest for burning down the home she shared with her boyfriend, Andre Rison of the Atlanta Falcons.

When newspapers reported the fire on June 9, 1994, Lopes was already a media celebrity as the rapper for TLC. The group was much in the public eye, not just

For the Record

Members include Lisa Left Eye Lopes , born May 27, 1971, in Philadelphia, PA; Rozonda Chilli Thomas , born February 27, 1971, in Atlanta, GA; and Tionne T-Boz Watkins , born April 26, 1970, in Des Moines, IA.

Group formed in 1991 in Atlanta; signed with LaFace Records; released debut album, OoooooohhhOn the TLC Tip, LaFace/Arista, 1992; released CrazySexyCool, LaFace/Arista, 1994. Appeared in film House Party 3 and contributed to soundtrack for Poetic Justice.

Addresses: Record company LaFace Records, One Capital City Plaza, 3350 Peachtree Rd., Ste. 1500, Atlanta, GA 30326-1040.

because their 1992 debut album, OoooooohhhOn the TLC Tip, sold nearly three million copies, but also because they achieved that success while radically redefining the R&B girl group. While past trios, exemplified by the legendary Supremes and contemporary incarnations including Jade and SWV, presented themselves as sultry and sophisticated, TLC burst onto the music scene with baggy, boyish clothes and a hip-hop attitude borrowed from male ensembles. They approached the usual musical topics, love and sex, from an unusual angle, opting to talk directly to young women about self-assertiveness and self-protection. Left Eye earned her nickname for the habit of wearing a condom over the left lens of her glasses, while all three used the colorful packages to accessorize. Young black women were watching them; Joan Morgan declared in Vibe, The trio damn near led a grassroots womanist revolution, banji-girl style.

Difficult Backgrounds

Self-confidence is something all three singers say they had to learn themselves before they could begin to communicate with others. Each also attributes that struggle to her fathers limitations as a parent. While Lopess relationship with her father, who died in 1991, was characterized by violence, Thomas and Watkins essentially lacked fathers: Thomass was absent altogether and Watkinss may as well have been. Its better just not to have one at all, Watkins commented to Tonya Pendleton when encouraged to talk about her father in YSB. Let the family replace the love that the father couldnt give. Consequently, Watkinss motherwho bore her daughter in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1970 provided the groundwork for Tionnes self-esteem. Watkinss earliest experience as a singer was nurtured by her mother, with whom she would sing in church. In the ensuing years, she saw music as a route away from the drudgery of a regular job, which she pursued for a while in the beauty trade, working as a hair model, a shampoo girl, and a manicurist.

Thomas was able to move away from the projects through the support of her mother, who was 17 at her daughters birth, and her great-grandmother. The native Atlantan first set her sights on the fashion industry, spending two years at Georgia Southern University. She was faced with a choice between fashion and entertainment when an offer to manage a store and one to dance for a hip-hop artist came at the same time. She went with the dancingwhich brought her to the attention of R&B singer and producer Pebbles.

Lopess story has received the most attention. Born in Philadelphia in 1971, she was reared by an abusive man who, paradoxically, also helped her to see her own talent and strength. My dad was real strict, she recalled for Vibes Morgan. He was in the military, and he treated me, my sister, my brother, and my mother like we were in boot camp. He looked at me like I was the brightest, and expected more from me. I always got between before they did. She also informed Morgan that her father bonded with her through alcohol, explaining that my father is responsible for my drinking. He gave me my first drink, and my hundredth drink.

Her father was a more positive force in recognizing the girls gifts. She taught herself to play piano by age five. In her teen years, she demonstrated ability as a composer, writer, visual artist, designer, and rapper. She honed her performance skills in talent shows and offered her expertise behind the scenes at various venues. But she was also having trouble at home, as the many times she ran away as a teenager illustrate. She left permanently at 17, ending up in Atlanta with a boyfriend. Before she joined TLC three years later, she had been forced to support herself by any means necessary, as she told Morgan.

TLC was formed in 1991 by a C Crystalwho faded from sight when Watkins and Lopes discovered that they worked better together without her. The duo also met Pebbles that year; she became their manager. Pebbles had a good deal of sway with L.A. Reid, her husband and one of the founders of Atlanta-based LaFace Records. A recording contract followed. Rozonda Thomas came on board soon after, discovered by Pebbles while rehearsing a dance routine for a Damian Dane music video. Thomas added a different kind of vocal skill and dance experience; she choreographs TLC videos and live performances. Her look also complemented the territory already mapped by Watkins and Lopes; where Tionne is almost like a guy, songwriter and producer Dallas Austin told Morgan, Chilli is a girl.And Lisa has always been pretty much rebellious.

We all have our parts, Chilli told BRE, Our own areas and we respect them. I dont try to rap and Left Eye doesnt try to sing, but we all dance. Jeff Lorez commented in Blues and Soul that they had the perfect blendLeft Eyes rebellious, outrageous rhymes, T-Bozs cooled out, nonchalant vocals and Rozonda Chilli Thomas sweet, soulful cooing. Morgan went into greater detail, trying to capture the distinct quality that each woman provided. T-Bozs raspy harmonies are the funk, she wrote, the voice of the blue-collar sister who works hard during the week, parties her ass off on Friday, saves the lovin for Saturday, and makes it to church every Sunday morning. Lisas rap is the grit, the sound of the urban street that grounds the group. Morgan pegged Thomass voice as the one that personifies the magic of falling inand makinglove.

Shook Up the New Jill Swing

When OoooooohhhOn the TLC Tip hit the market in 1992, listeners welcomed it enthusiastically, both for how it rode the New Jill Swing trend and for how it disrupted it. The instant excitement over TLCs look and sound prompted Morgan to argue that the album put LaFace Records on the map. Looking back at the debut, Los Angeles Times writer Dennis Hunt recalled that when the trioburst on the hip-hop scene, it was a breath of fresh air, bringing a cocky, macho sensibility to the prissy girl-group genre.A wacky, cartoonish quality coupled with a reckless inhibition made that debut something special. Watkins pointed out in BRE that they had proven that you dont have to wear tight slinky outfits to make it. We stand up for the [girl groups] who always wanted to dress like this, but couldnt. We didnt show a stitch of our skin and we made it.

The album became, as Alan Lightwrote in Rolling Stone, a New Jill Swing gem. It did so, at least in part, on the basis of its run of chart-topping singles. Aint 2 Proud 2 Beg and What About Your Friends each reached the Number Two spot on Billboards R&B singles chart, becoming, respectively, platinum and gold. Baby Baby Baby also went platinum and took the Number One spot. These songs traded the usual girl-group fare of broken hearts and tortuous seduction for a determination to have women free themselves from the labels given to those who dare to assert themselves sexually, according to Word Up! magazine. Light lavished praise on the groups independent, street-level feminism, while YSBs Pendleton noted that although the seriousness of their safe-sex message could have distanced potential fans, their openness and sense of humor about the necessity of condoms made them even more popular.

An unexpectedly long hiatus intervened between Tip and the groups second full-length production. Some of the distraction was work-related: they appeared in the film House Party 3 and contributed a song to the soundtrack for the Janet Jackson film Poetic Justice; they exposed audiences to their hyperactive live act while on tour with Hammer in 1992 and Bobby Brown in 1993. Furthermore, despite the success of the first album, the trio decided that they needed a different management direction, consequently ending their professional relationship with Pebbles. They stayed with LaFace Records, but began working instead with manager Hiriam Hicks. Lopes also moved into management herself, dedicating a portion of her time to Left Eye Management, which sponsored young hip-hop performers.

Unfortunately, however, much of the two-year period was lost to personal problemsand most of these were Lopess. After Lopes met Andre Rison in the spring of 1993, the two began an intense, tumultuous relationship, Lopes moving into Risons mansion in the suburbs outside of Atlanta. On June 9, 1994, one of their fights led to news stories across the country. Risons version of the incident appeared in People a few weeks later: after a night out with friends, Rison returned home at 6 a.m. to find Lopes in the driveway, furious with him. I started taking blows to the face, he said. Finally, I grabbed her and asked her what was wrong. But she kept coming at me. Unable to stop the assault, he slapped her, Rison claimed, not to hurt her, but to calm her. Didnt work. We were inside the house now, and I picked her up and slammed her on the bed and sat on her. I still couldnt control her. So I left. I went on a 20-mile walk. Lopes then started a fire with cardboard in a bathtub; the ensuing conflagration destroyed the mansion. As the house burned, she vandalized three of the cars in the driveway and drove away in another.

Lopes turned herself in to police the next day to face arson and criminal damage charges. Soon after, she entered a rehab clinic to seek treatment for alcohol abuse, suggesting that her drinking had played a role in what had happened.

There is no damn way in the world, Lopes argued in Morgans interview, I would have intentionally started that fire. I lived in that house for a whole year. I had a years worth of time invested in that house, that relationship. Anybody with common sense should know that there were stories behind what happened. Lopes attempted to fill out the picture a few days after the fire, giving police photographs of herself with bruises on her face. Similarly, several observers have argued that the fire was Lopess effort to fight back in an abusive relationship. Morgan, for example, noted an incident reported in September 1993, when Lopes and Rison were seen fighting in a grocery store parking lot. According to two passersby, recorded Morgan, Rison hit Lopes and then fired a 9mm handgun when they tried to intervene. Suchactions, many commentators surmised, probably characterized their relationship.

Demonstrated Growth on Crazysexycool

Label head L. A. Reid has concurred with this view, telling Morgan that Lisa is a victim more than anything. People have got to ask themselves how there can be a fight between an All-Pro athlete and a little girl. Its hard, because in Lisas head, her relationship is not an abusive relationship but a relationship where something bad happened. Later that year, it appeared that any major conflict had been resolved; in December, Watkins explained to Blues and Soul contributor Lorez that Andre and Lisa are still together.Her court case hasnt come up yetbut weve forgotten about it. (On December 29, 1994, Lopes pleaded guilty to destroying Risons million-dollar home. According to People, she was sentenced to several months in a halfway house and five years probation. She was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine, undergo treatment for alcohol abuse, and receive battered-woman counseling. [Rison admitted in court to hitting Lopes]. Rison has said he has forgiven Lopes for the blaze and plans to marry her.)

When production did get under way for a second album, TLC and their producers found themselves struggling with trying to top the success of the first. Since the debut album had displayed a particularly young character, the three had to demonstrate growth in order not to appear stagnant beside their maturing fans, but they couldnt change so drastically that they abandoned that audience. Ultimately, changes made for the album included more than just growth in musical style. The hardest part about coming out this time was thinking about our clothes, because our image was as big as our music, Thomas told Sonia Murray of the Atlanta Constitution. My challenge, said Reid, who acted as creative director for Crazysexycool, according to Vibes Morgan, was to give their fans good music but allow TLC to grow in a way that would keep them around. I want them to be larger than just hip-hop. I want them to be thought of as true creative forces.

One decision found the three showing more skinon the album cover and in videosthan they had before. They generally pursued a more mature approach to sexuality, expressing this in the albums title. Crazysexycool is a word we created to describe whats in every woman, Lopes told Morgan. Crazysexycool also found the artists more involved in their own recording; Lopes, who had always written her own raps, contributed the songs Waterfalls and Kick Your Game and joined in the actual production of the record. (Waterfalls would become a hit single during the summer of 1995).

When Crazysexycool hit the market late in 1994, it immediately took the Number Two spot on the R&B chart. Critics waxed poetic over the groups growth. Writing for People, Jeremy Helligar declared that the sharp funk and libidinous R&B of Crazysexycool easily outgrooves its predecessors sloganeering bubble-gum hip-hop. Billboards Reynolds reported that the musical evolution of TLC is marked by stronger voices, closer harmonies, and tighter raps and Times Christopher John Farley found the vocalsstronger and the melodies more piquant thanon the first album. David Sprague, covering the release for Fanfare, argued that TLCs second album reaffirms that the three members arent cut from the same designer-showroom cloth as most contemporary dance acts. Every note of Crazysexycool is invested with plainspoken approachability that makes TLC sound like libido-conscious girls next door, rather than genetically engineered fantasy objects. Crazysexycool also spawned the hits Creep and Red Light Special and spent numerous weeks in the pop Top Ten.

The trio seemed bent on shaping its growth with an eye toward the message they send to young women; while remaining uncompromisingly frank about sexuality insisting that women can make the moves and draw the linesTLC still maintained that the most important thing was a young womans self-esteem and self-determination. Talking with Pendleton, Watkins reiterated her commitment to female autonomy: Even if I married a rich man, I would never quit and just let him take care of me. We have all met [men], whether they were selling drugs or whatever, with hell-a-money, and we could have been set up a long time ago. But everybody dont want to do it like that. I dont care how many kids I have, my husband could be the richest man in the world, I will still work. I aint never gonna be no housewife.

Selected discography

OoooooohhhOn the TLC Tip (includes Baby Baby Baby, What About Your Friends, and Aint 2 Proud 2 Beg), LaFace/Arista, 1992.

Crazysexycool (includes Creep, Waterfalls, Kick Your Game and Red Light Special), LaFace/Arista, 1994.

Sources

Atlanta Constitution, November 14, 1994.

Billboard, October 1, 1994.

Black Beat, February 1995.

Blues and Soul, December 1326, 1994.

BRE, December 9, 1994.

Details, March 1995.

Entertainment Weekly, November 18, 1994; December 9, 1994.

Fanfare, November 27, 1994.

Gavin, December 2, 1994.

Jet, June 27, 1994.

Los Angeles Times, November 13, 1994.

Mademoiselle, January 1995.

Network Forty (Burbank, CA), November 4,1994; January 16, 1995.

People, June 27, 1994; December 5, 1994.

Rolling Stone, May 28, 1992.

Time, December 19, 1994.

Vibe, November 1994.

Word Up!, January 1, 1995.

YSB, June/July 1994.

Ondine E. Le Blanc

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TLC

TLC

Hip-hop group

Overcame Struggles to Succeed

First T-Boz and Left Eye, Then Chilli

Distractions Postponed Production

Released Crazysexycool

“The Challenge”

Members Pursued Other Interests

Selected discography

Sources

When TLC burst upon the scene with their colorful clothes, preaching safe sex and promoting equality, no one knew what to expect. The three young women in TLC, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, embraced the opportunity to influence the lives of the young women who buy their records. Their music had a message, but TLC longed to do more: “We want to go to middle schools and high schools,” Thomas told J. R. Reynolds of Billboard, “and let people know about life from someone their age. Sometimes we’re all that kids have—they might not have that sister or auntie to talk to.” The threesome stuck to this path through a fair amount of scandal and tragedy until founding member Lopes died unexpectedly in 2002.

The group was much in the public eye—not just because their 1992 debut album, Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip, sold four million copies, but also because they achieved that success while radically redefining the R&B “girl group.” While past trios, exemplified by the legendary Supremes and contemporary incarnations including Destiny’s Child and SWV, presented themselves as sultry and sophisticated, TLC burst onto the music scene with baggy, boyish clothes and a hip-hop attitude borrowed from male ensembles.

TLC approached the usual musical topics—love and sex—from an unusual angle, opting to talk directly to young women about self-assertiveness and self-protection. Left Eye earned her nickname for the habit of wearing a condom over the left lens of her glasses, while all three used the colorful packages to accessorize. Young black women were watching them; Joan Morgan declared in Vibe, “The trio damn near led a grassroots womanist revolution, banji-girl style.”

Overcame Struggles to Succeed

Self-confidence is something all three singers had to learn themselves before they could begin to communicate with others. Each also attributed that struggle to her father’s limitations as a parent. While Lopes’s relationship with her father, who died in 1991, was characterized by violence, Thomas and Watkins essentially lacked fathers: Thomas’s was absent altogether and Watkins’s might as well have been. Consequently, Watkins’s mother provided the groundwork for Tionne’s self-esteem. Watkins’s earliest experience as a singer was nurtured by her mother, with whom she would sing in church.

was able to move away from the projects the support of her mother, who was 17 at her daughter’s birth, and her great-grandmother. The native Atlantan first set her sights on the fashion industry, two years at Georgia Southern University. was faced with a choice between fashion and entertainment when an offer to manage a store and to dance for a hip-hop artist came at the same

For the Record…

Members include Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes (born Lisa Nicole Lopes on May 27, 1971, in Philadelphia, PA; died on April 25, 2002, in Honduras; one adopted daughter, Snow), rapper; Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas (born on February 27, 1971, in Atlanta, GA; one son, Tron. Education: Attended Georgia Southern University, studied fashion design), vocals; Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins (born on April 26, 1970, in Des Moines, IA; married D. Rolison [aka Mack 10, a rapper]; one daughter), vocals.

Group formed in Atlanta, GA, 1991; signed with LaFace Records; released debut album, Ooooooohhh … On the TLC Tip, 1992; released CrazySexyCool, 1994; Fan Mail, 1999; founding member Lopes died, 2002; released 3D, 2002.

Addresses: Record company—LaFace Records, One Capital City Plaza, 3350 Peachtree Rd., Ste. 1500, Atlanta, GA 30326-1040. Website—TLC Official Website: http://www.tlcfanmail.com.

time. She went with the dancing—which brought her to the attention of R&B singer and producer Pebbles.

Lopes’s story has received the most attention. Born in Philadelphia in 1971, she was reared by an abusive man who, paradoxically, also helped her to see her own talent and strength. “My dad was real strict,” she recalled for Vibe. “He was in the military, and he treated me, my sister, my brother, and my mother like we were in boot camp. He looked at me like I was the brightest, and expected more from me. I always got beaten before they did.” She also informed Morgan that her father bonded with her through alcohol, explaining that “my father is responsible for my drinking. He gave me my first drink, and my hundredth drink.”

Lopes’s father was also a positive force in recognizing the girl’s gifts. She taught herself to play piano by age five. In her teen years, she demonstrated ability as a composer, writer, visual artist, designer, and rapper. She honed her performance skills in talent shows and offered her expertise behind the scenes at various venues. But she was also having trouble at home, as the many times she ran away as a teenager illustrate. She left permanently at 17, ending up in Atlanta with a boyfriend.

First T-Boz and Left Eye, Then Chilli

TLC was formed in 1991 by the C—Crystal—who faded from sight when Watkins and Lopes discovered that they worked better together without her. The duo also met Pebbles that year; she became their manager. Pebbles had a good deal of sway with L. A. Reid—her husband at the time—and one of the founders of Atlanta-based LaFace Records. A recording contract followed. Thomas came on board soon after, discovered by Pebbles while rehearsing a dance routine for a Damian Dane music video. Thomas added a different kind of vocal skill and dance experience; she choreographed TLC videos and live performances.

When Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip hit the market in 1992, listeners welcomed it enthusiastically. The instant excitement over TLC’s look and sound prompted Morgan to argue that the album “put LaFace Records on the map.” Looking back at the debut, Los Angeles Times writer Dennis Hunt recalled that when “the trio… burst on the hip-hop scene, it was a breath of fresh air, bringing a cocky, macho sensibility to the prissy girl-group genre…” Watkins pointed out in BRE that they had “proven that you don’t have to wear tight slinky outfits to make it. We stand up for the (girl groups) who always wanted to dress like this, but couldn’t. We didn’t show a stitch of our skin and we made it.”

The album quickly went multiplatinum. It did so, at least in part, on the basis of its run of chart-topping singles. “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg” and “What About Your Friends” each reached the number two spot on Billboard’s R&B singles chart, becoming, respectively, platinum and gold. Light lavished praise on the group’s “independent, street-level feminism,” while YSBs Pendleton noted that although “the seriousness of their safe-sex message could have distanced potential fans, their openness and sense of humor about the necessity of condoms made them even more popular.”

Distractions Postponed Production

An unexpectedly long hiatus intervened between Tip and the group’s second full-length production. Some of the distraction was work-related: they appeared in the film House Party 3 and contributed a song to the soundtrack for the film Poetic Justice; they exposed audiences to their hyperactive live act while on tour with Hammer in 1992 and Bobby Brown in 1993. Furthermore, despite the success of the first album, the trio decided that they needed a different management direction, consequently ending their professional relationship with Pebbles. They stayed with LaFace Records, but began working instead with manager Hiriam Hicks.

Unfortunately, however, much of the two-year period was lost to personal problems, most of them Lopes’s. After Lopes met Atlanta Falcons football player Andre Rison in the spring of 1993, the two began an intense, tumultuous relationship, with Lopes moving into Ri-son’s mansion in the suburbs outside of Atlanta. The relationship escalated to Lopes’s arrest for setting fire to Rison’s home. Lopes attempted to fill out the picture a few days after the fire, giving police photographs of herself with bruises on her face. Similarly, several observers have argued that the fire was Lopes’s effort to fight back in an abusive relationship. Label head L. A. Reid has concurred with this view, telling Vibe that “Lisa is a victim more than anything. People have got to ask themselves how there can be a ’fight’ between an All-Pro athlete and a little girl.” Rison forgave Lopes for the arson and the two continued their on-again, off-again relationship for several years.

On December 29, 1994, Lopes pleaded guilty to destroying Rison’s million-dollar home. According to People, she “was sentenced to several months in a halfway house and five years’ probation. She was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine, undergo treatment for alcohol abuse, and receive battered-woman counseling.” (Rison admitted in court to hitting Lopes.) Lloyd’s of London also wanted to collect money from Lopes for the destruction of Rison’s mansion, and this, along with money mismanagement, forced the group to file for bankruptcy.

Released Crazysexycool

When production did get under way for a second album, TLC and their producers found themselves struggling with trying to top the success of the first. Since the debut album had displayed a particularly “young” character, the three had to demonstrate growth in order not to appear stagnant beside their maturing fans, but they couldn’t change so drastically that they abandoned that audience. “My challenge,” said Reid, who acted as creative director for Crazysexycool, according to Vibe, “was to give their fans good music but allow TLC to grow in a way that would keep them around. I want them to be larger than just hip-hop. I want them to be thought of as true creative forces.”

One decision found the three showing more skin—on the album cover and in videos—than they had before. They generally pursued a more mature approach to sexuality, expressing this in the album’s title. ”Crazysexycool is a word we created to describe what’s in every woman,” Lopes told Vibe. Crazysexycool also found the artists more involved in their own recording; Lopes, who had always written her own raps, contributed the songs “Waterfalls” and “Kick Your Game” and joined in the actual production of the record. “Waterfalls” would became a hit single during the summer of 1995.

When Crazysexycool hit the market late in 1994, it immediately took the number two spot on the R&B chart. Critics waxed poetic over the group’s growth. Writing for People, Jeremy Helligar declared that the “sharp funk and libidinous R&B of Crazysexycool easily outgrooves its predecessor’s sloganeering bubblegum hip-hop.” Billboard’s Reynolds reported that the “musical evolution of TLC is marked by stronger voices, closer harmonies, and tighter raps” and Time’s Christopher John Farley found “the vocals… stronger and the melodies more piquant than … on the first album.” Crazysexycool also spawned the hits “Creep” and “Red Light Special” and spent numerous weeks in the pop top ten.

“The Challenge”

As fans eagerly awaited the release of their third album, conflict arose again, this time between the group members themselves. Lopes, according to the Seattle Times, had sent LaFace a letter stating that she was quitting. She had missed rehearsals and interviews. Watkins and Thomas discussed Lopes’s actions in Entertainment Weekly, which prompted Lopes to send a letter discussing her displeasure at the two members’ airing of dirty laundry. She issued “The Challenge” with the release of a three-CD (one CD of each member) box set and each member releasing a single simultaneously and the winner would be the one whose single sold the most.

The release of the trio’s third album, Fan Mail, did not improve the situation. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Lopes stated: “I’m not really feeling TLC.” Even concertgoers could see, hear, and feel the tension between the threesome. As the tour went on, the group found a middle ground, and became unified again. Lopes, commenting in the Constitution, “It feels like a renewal right now. Like we’re starting all over again.”

Fan Mail met with favorable reviews, and sold over six million copies in the United States alone. According to the Daily News, Thomas said the album was “the most personal album the trio has made because it reflects experiences and emotions the group faced in the years since TLC became known around the world.” Fan Mail was produced by some of R&B’s biggest producers, including Babyface, Dallas Austin, and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. The group released four singles, “Silly Ho,” “No Scrubs,” “Unpretty,” and “No Lie.” “No Scrubs” and “Unpretty” both achieved gold status. The group won two Grammy Awards, one for Best R&B Performance by a Duo/Group for “No Scrubs” and another for Best R&B Album, in addition to numerous other awards and honors.

Members Pursued Other Interests

Each member began branching out into different areas. Watkins published a book of poetry and continued making music. She made the top 40 list with her single, “Touch Myself” from the soundtrack of the film, Fled, and had another hit with the single “My Getaway.” She made her solo film debut in the controversial film, Belly. Watkins also married rapper Mack 10 and gave birth to a baby girl.

Thomas also began acting, appearing in movies, including, Hav Plenty, Snow Day, A Diva’s Christmas Carol, and Ticker. She and then-boyfriend, producer Dallas Austin, celebrated the arrival of a son, Tron. Thomas has expressed joy at becoming a mother and told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:“When [Tron] gets to kindergarten, I’m through (with TLC). That’s just the way it’s going to be.”

Lopes was approached to host MTV’s The Cut, in 1998. She also appeared in rapper Lil’ Kim’s remix of her single “Ladies Night,” and on pop group ’N Sync’s song “Space Cowboy.” Lopes discovered the groups Blaque and Egypt, making frequent trips to Honduras to work with them. She had completed her solo album, Supernova, which was only released internationally. She also adopted a little girl named Snow.

The group began recording their fourth album and were scheduled to complete it in 2001, when Watkins became ill due to sickle cell anemia. She stayed in the hospital for two months recovering. On April 25, 2002, Lopes was killed in a car crash in Honduras. Many were shocked at the rapper’s sudden death. Watkins and Thomas released a statement, quoted at MTV.com: “We had all grown up together and were as close as family. Today we have truly lost our sister.”

Thomas and Watkins finished the album that they were recording at the time Lopes died. Lopes appears on five tracks on 3D, released in late 2002. Thomas and Watkins dedicated the CD to Lopes. It was unclear whether they would continue to record together as TLC, but one thing was certain—Lopes would not be replaced. “She was our sister,” Thomas told Entertainment Weekly. “You can never replace a TLC girl.”

Selected discography

Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip, LaFace/Arista, 1992.

Crazy sexy cool, LaFace/Arista, 1994.

Fan Mail, LaFace/Arista, 1999.

3D, LaFace, 2003.

Sources

Books

Contemporary Black Biography, volume 34, Gale Group, 2002.

Periodicals

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, November 14, 1994; February 28, 1999; March 5, 1999; April 1, 1999; February 7, 2000; June 15, 2000; September 29, 2000.

Billboard, October 1, 1994.

Black Beat, February 1995.

Blues and Soul, December 13-26, 1994.

BRE, December 9, 1994.

Details, March 1995.

Ebony, August 2002.

Entertainment Weekly, November 18, 1994; December 9, 1994; May 10, 2002; November 15, 2002.

Fanfare, November 27, 1994.

Fresno Bee, (Fresno, CA), January 16, 2000.

Gavin, December 2, 1994.

Jet, June 27, 1994.

Los Angeles Times, November 13, 1994.

Mademoiselle, January 1995.

Network Forty (Burbank, CA), November 4, 1994; January 16, 1995.

Newsweek, November 18, 2002.

People, June 27, 1994; December 5, 1994; May 13, 2002; November 25, 2002.

Rolling Stone, May 28, 1992.

St. Louis Dispatch, May 3, 2002.

Seattle Times, January 6, 2000; January 11, 2000.

Star Ledger (Newark, NJ), April 27, 2002.

Star Tribune (Minneapolis, MN), February 28, 1999.

Time, December 19, 1994.

United Press International, December 1, 1999.

Vibe, November 1994.

Word Up!, January 1, 1995.

YSB, June/July 1994.

Online

“Lisa ’Left Eye’ Lopes Killed in Car Accident,” MTV.com, http://www.mtv.com/news/left_eye.html (August 4, 2003).

“Rozonda ’Chilli’ Thomas,” Internet Movie Database, http://us.imdb.com/Name?Thomas,+Rozonda+%27Chilli%27 (July 1,2003).

“TLC,” All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com (July 1,2003).

Ondine E. Le Blanc

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"TLC." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved October 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/tlc-1

TLC

TLC

Formed: 1991, Atlanta, Georgia

Members: Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, vocals (born Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 27 May 1971; died Jutiapa, Honduras, 25 April 2002); Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas, vocals (born Atlanta, Georgia, 27 February 1971); Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, vocals (born Des Moines, Iowa, 26 April 1970).

Genre: R&B

Best-selling album since 1990: CrazySexyCool (1994)

Hit songs since 1990: "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg," "Waterfalls," "No Scrubs"


Female trio TLC formed in 1991, when the hip-hop-oriented R&B known as "New Jack Swing" was at its height. Strong hooks, flamboyant clothes, and an unapologetic embrace of female sexuality helped them break through to immediate pop success, which they maintained throughout the decade while evolving into more mature artists. On their way to becoming the biggest-selling female group in history, they spawned successful imitators such as SWV and Destiny's Child and made headlines with a host of financial, legal, and personal problems. After the death of Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes in 2002, the remaining members announced that they would never again tour under the name TLC, without officially dissolving the group or ruling out the possibility of releasing new albums.



Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes met in Atlanta, Georgia, as members of an all-female R&B group. In 1991 they decided to go their own way and soon met Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas, with whom they formed TLC. They shortly landed a manager, 1980s R&B singer Pebbles, and began working with local producer Dallas Austin. Pebbles brought TLC to the attention of her then-husband, Antonio "L.A." Reid, and his partner, successful producer/singer Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds. Reid and Edmonds signed TLC to their LaFace label, which released their debut album, Ooooooohhh . . . On the TLC Tip, in early 1992.

Ooooooohhh . . . On the TLC Tip favors the typical New Jack production of the time, leaning toward up-tempo dance songs that intermingle T-Boz's husky croon, Chilli's smoother, more melodic singing, and Left Eye's growling raps. The first single, "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg," employs a hip-hop groove and a call-and-response chorus to present a bouncy yet aggressive celebration of the female libido: "Yo if I need it in the morning or the middle of the night / I ain't 2 proud 2 beg." The accompanying video established the trio's young and sassy image, showing off their exuberant dancing and colorful, oversized outfits, which Left Eye memorably accessorized with a condom-turned-eye patch. "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg" became a Top 10 pop hit, and was followed by the equally successful singles "Baby Baby Baby" and "What About Your Friends," eventually driving sales of the album to 4 million.

In the two years before releasing their follow-up album, TLC maintained their public profile with "Get It Up," a hit single from the soundtrack to the 1993 movie Poetic Justice, starring pop singer Janet Jackson. Less favorable publicity came in June 1994, when Left Eye was arrested in Atlanta for burning down the house she shared with her then-boyfriend, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Andre Rison. As part of her defense, Left Eye made public Rison's alleged physical abuse and admitted to a drinking problem, agreeing to enter rehab to avoid jail time. A few months later TLC released their second album, CrazySexyCool.


Growing Up

CrazySexyCool represents a significant departure for TLC, toning down the rowdy playfulness of their debut and adopting a more sophisticated, mature approach. The group moves away from the heavily rap-influenced sound characterizing Ooooooohhh . . . On the TLC Tip in favor of smooth R&B tracks emphasizing T-Boz's sultry lead vocals and Chilli's harmonizing. The result is an elegant fusion of hip-hop and classic soul that makes CrazySexyCool one of the defining albums of 1990s "urban" pop. CrazySexyCool was a commercial breakthrough as well. The lead single, "Creep," a jazzy, assured endorsement of the benefits of occasional infidelity, became a number one pop hit. The album's next single, "Red Light Special," also topped the charts, as did "Waterfalls," which uses muted horns and T-Boz's melancholy vocals to plead for an end to self-destructive behavior in the inner city. The ground-breaking video for the latter, which employs cutting-edge special effects to emphasize the track's underlying message of compassion, won the group four MTV Video Music Awards in September 1995. CrazySexyCool became the second biggest selling album of 1995. It eventually went eleven times platinum, making TLC the biggest selling female group of all time.

It was at the height of this success that TLC faced a public financial crisis. A recurrence of T-Boz's sickle-cell anemia forced the group to cut short a tour in support of CrazySexyCool, costing them millions of dollars in potential revenue. In July 1995 the trio filed for bankruptcy, blaming debts in connection with Left Eye's arson charges and their less-than-fair share of royalties from sales of CrazySexyCool. This latter complaint eventually led them to part ways with their manager, Pebbles, who by then had undergone a bitter divorce from L.A. Reid. TLC's problems had little effect on the continuing success of CrazySexyCool. In February 1996 it won a Grammy Award for Best R&B Album, with "Creep" winning Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

TLC largely spent the next year and a half away from the spotlight, sorting out their finances and planning their next album. In June 1997 Chilli and Austin had a son. At the same time, TLC announced that Austin would not be reprising his producer duties on the upcoming album, citing a dispute over his fees. By the end of the year, however, Austin was back on board for his third consecutive TLC album. FanMail was released in February 1999, more than four years after its predecessor.

FanMail finds TLC largely revisiting the territory charted by CrazySexyCool, this time employing a wide variety of producers in addition to Austin. The result, while not groundbreaking, is nonetheless solid, and the album enjoyed substantial critical and commercial success. The first single, "No Scrubs," distinguishes itself from previous TLC hits by featuring Chilli on lead vocals. She deftly uses her gentle, feminine voice to introduce a sassy warning to would-be suitors without the funds to back up their posturing: "If you don't have a car and you're walking / Oh yes, son, I'm talking to you." "No Scrubs" spent a few weeks at number one, and hit enough of a nerve that it inspired an answer song from New York City rap trio Sporty Thievz, "No Pigeons." The album spawned two more Top 10 hits with "Unpretty" and "Dear Lie," and went on to sell 6 million copies. In September 1999 "No Scrubs" won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Group Video.


Strife and Sorrow

As TLC was enjoying renewed success with FanMail, tensions between Left Eye and the other two members were threatening to tear the group apart. In an infamous interview with the magazine Entertainment Weekly in November 1999, T-Boz and Chilli accused Left Eye of distancing herself from the group, while Left Eye criticized her bandmates' business acumen and challenged them to a competition in which each would release a solo album. TLC managed to settle their differences enough to perform that February at the 2000 Grammys, where they earned a Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group for "No Scrubs" and a Best R&B Album for FanMail.

On April 25, 2002, Left Eye was killed in a car accident while on vacation in Honduras. At the time of her death, TLC had begun recording their fourth album, 3D. A mourning Chilli and T-Boz completed the album and released it in November 2002, subsequently announcing that it would be their last as TLC.

By skillfully applying three distinct vocal talents to top-notch production and consistently provocative songwriting, TLC dominated urban music for virtually the entire 1990s. In the process of winning unprecedented commercial success, they helped define the hip-hop-flavored soul that characterized the decade. The sudden death of member Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes left TLC's future uncertain, just when the group was showing promising signs of further growth.

SELECTIVE DISCOGRAPHY:

Ooooooohhh . . . On the TLC Tip (LaFace, 1992); CrazySexyCool (LaFace, 1994); Fanmail (LaFace, 1999); Greatest Hits (LaFace, 2001); 3D (LaFace, 2002). Soundtrack: Poetic Justice (Sony, 1993).

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

N. E. Krulik, Lisa Lopes: The Life of a Supernova (New York, 2002).

WEBSITE:

www.laface.com/#tlc.

matt himes

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TLC

TLC inf. • abbr. tender loving care.

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"TLC." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (October 21, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/tlc-0

"TLC." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved October 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/tlc-0

TLC

TLC n. see total lung capacity.

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"TLC." A Dictionary of Nursing. . Retrieved October 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/caregiving/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/tlc

TLC

TLC tender loving care
• Chem. thin-layer chromatography
• Med. total lung capacity
• (Australia) Trades and Labour Council

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"TLC." The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"TLC." The Oxford Dictionary of Abbreviations. . Retrieved October 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/tlc