Still CrazySexyCool: A Look Back At TLC’s Greatest Hits Upon The Release Of Their Final Album
One of the most successful female groups of all time, TLC’s innovative sound, trailblazing style and empowering message became the soundtrack for a generation of young women in the ’90s and 00s.
Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and Rozanda “Chilli” Thomas were three women who tackled the music industry by their own rules and weren’t shy to talk about subjects that most girl groups had stayed away from. And while we lost Left Eye more than 15 years ago (and far too early), T-Boz and Chilli have continued to forge ahead, recording new music, producing a made-for-TV movie of their life story and much more. With the release of their fifth and final self-titled album (funded in part by a Kickstarter campaign that drew donations from the likes of Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Soulja Boy and more) this past Friday, we take a look back at some of TLC’s most iconic hits.
Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg
Off the group’s debut album “Ooooooohhh… On The TLC Tip,” their first single “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg” gave the world a glimpse into the unique mix of funk, R&B and hip-hop that would set these talented ladies apart. It also showed that they weren’t afraid to put their feelings about sex front and center. The music video for this track, while fun and colorful, showed each member of the group wearing condoms and emphasizing a message of safe sex. For TLC, music wasn’t just a catchy hook or some dope rhymes; it was a way to get their feelings about the world around them across.
Baby, Baby, Baby
There is no doubt that when it came to dropping a dose of R&B soul and smooth sounds to listeners, T-Boz and Chilli were the women for the job. “Baby, Baby, Baby,” also off of their debut album, allowed the girls the opportunity to show their sexier side. T-Boz’s raspy, smokey vocals paired with Chilli’s soulful sounds created a catchy track that established TLC as a force to be reckoned with on the R&B front.
Arguably TLC’s biggest and most well-known hit, “Waterfalls” was also one of their most socially conscious. Tackling the AIDs epidemic, drug use and unprotected sex head-on, “Waterfalls” struck a chord with millions of music fans, landing TLC an international hit that reached number one in countries from the United States to Germany to New Zealand. The song was also a favorite among critics, who honored the ladies with two Grammy nominations. The video for “Waterfalls” also gained considerable attention for its raw emotion, speaking to entire generation faced with such a devastating epidemic.
Red Light Special
If you were looking to set the mood in 1995, there is no doubt that “Red Light Special” was cued up and ready to go. The Babyface-written track had bluesy horns, sexy vocals and and a video set in a brothel with the ladies surrounded by a young Boris Kodjoe. Yeah, that would do the trick for us too.
The ultimate clap back toward a neglectful lover, “Creep” remains one of TLC’s most iconic songs and one of its most memorable music videos. Clad in silky pajamas and busting out all the right dance moves, TLC defined the 90s with this sexy and sassy track.
TLC introduced a new word to the American vernacular when they dropped “No Scrubs” back in 1999. One of the biggest hits of that year (and of TLC’s incredible career), “No Scrubs” called out men whose lack of independence is rubbing their lady the wrong way. Just as the video for “Creep” became an iconic moment for the group earlier in the 90s, so did “No Scrubs” and its futuristic look later in the decade.
Female empowerment and promoting healthy self-esteem have always been a huge part of TLC’s music. Few songs better embody that message than “Unpretty.” From the group’s fan-dedicated effort “Fanmail,” “Unpretty” aims to teach girls and women about valuing themselves and not giving into the pressures from peers and society in general. A powerful message from a talented trio of strong women.
The first track T-Boz and Chilli released after Left Eye’s death, “Girl Talk” showed how women, regardless of background, can find common ground.
Meant To Be
Written for the made-for-TV movie “CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story,” “Meant To Be” wasn’t one of TLC’s biggest hits, but it was definitely one of their most heartfelt. With a vibe that was both reflective and hopeful, “Meant To Be” was the perfect song to accompany their life story.
Their first single release in 15 years, “Way Back” is the first track off of the group’s upcoming self-titled album. With an undeniably catchy, throwback vibe and a guest appearance from Snoop Dogg, “Way Back” is a great summer jam that makes us feel like T-Boz and Chilli never left us.