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Interview

Salt N Pepa: TLC Were Upset We Didn’t Talk To Them at Grammys

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Salt N Pepa talked to Paper Magazine back in 2015 about their feelings towards TLC during the 90s and the legacy of Left Eye!

Pepa: I remember hearing the group’s music for the first time and we were like “Who are these three new girls coming out?” It was brilliant because they’re R&B; singers, and then you had Lisa who was an emcee. I thought that was awesome, and I knew they were gonna be a hit and make timeless music. Lisa had the “it” factor and she was so free-spirited. That’s what reminded me of Salt-N-Pepa.

Salt: I’m very good at knowing the “it” factor when I see it. When I first saw Beyoncé I was like OMG diva yes! Same thing with TLC and Left Eye in particular. She stood out to me as a brazen, bold, in your face kind of individual. She really was that way in person and it showed on camera.

Their first video “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg” struck me, and they also reminded me of Salt-N-Pepa, too. They were young, they were cute, they were about female empowerment, they said whatever they wanted to say. I fell in love with them from “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg” so I wasn’t surprised that they went onto mega stardom.

Pepa: Their whole style, their attitude, they were very focused. I just knew this wasn’t going to be a one-hit-wonder. To this day, we still play “Scrubs” in our shows. We have to support each other at all times, support women like us.

Salt: I remember being on the set with them when we did a song together with Pebbles [Perri Reid] — they were Pebbles’ protegées — and we barely spoke. I don’t know if they were dumbstruck or fans, but women sometimes do that; we don’t approach each other in music, which I think is a crime.

Now that I’m a more mature woman, if I see another female celebrity, I’m going to go up to them and say “Hey girl what’s up.” But sometimes you get the I’m-a-bigger-star-than-you vibe, so you have to be open.

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TLC in the Pebbles music video ‘Backyard’ featuring Salt N Pepa
So I remember us not talking. Years later, Chilli, T-Boz, Pep, and myself did a photo shoot together. And Chilli brought up a time when we were at the Grammy’s and never spoke. She said, “We really looked up to you guys, and we were hurt that you guys didn’t even come up to us.” I was apologizing; I don’t know why that happens with women. We need to be banding together. I don’t feel [competitive] now as a mother and as a more mature person.

I think as Salt-N-Pepa we can be really instrumental in bringing women together in hip-hop and saying it doesn’t have to be like this. Coming up with Lauryn Hill and Queen Latifah, it wasn’t like that. We were all really cool with each other. We were just a bunch of girls coming up in a male-dominated genre of music and we clicked with each other naturally.

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Pepa: Now there’s so much more room for females in the industry with us showing that it could be done and with TLC showing that it could be done.

Salt: Women have been fighting to be heard and to be taken seriously in every area: business, music, it doesn’t matter. The struggle continues. Me and Pep are still finding ourselves in situations that I’m sure Left Eye had found herself in and I’m sure that’s why she was screaming. It was like, “I’m a black woman, and I matter.” Sometimes it may have been perceived as spoiled or like a tantrum, but it was really her saying, “see me, I’m not just an artist,” which is a struggle for me.

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I’m a producer, I’m a writer, I compose music, I’m a mom. There are so many aspects to me besides being an artist, but sometimes in this business you have to fight to be seen as anything else. Sometimes you feel like a puppet, and I think that’s how she felt. She was not just a recording artist; she was an artist in many ways. We make up our video concepts, there’s so much stuff that we do that we don’t get recognized or credit for and it’s very frustrating.

I’ll tell a story that Russell Simmons doesn’t like: one time I was standing near him, and he didn’t know what Salt-N-Pepa looked like. Somebody happened to ask him what he thought of those Salt-N-Pepa girls and he was like thumbs down, not gonna last. Years later, he tried to sign us to Def Jam. But that’s how it is.

I always say desperation stinks. It’s a very smelly emotion. When you’re willing to say no, turn down money, and piss people off and not care that they call you a bitch, that breaks barriers. I love what Taylor Swift is doing. I’m not only a fan of the music, I’m a fan of her being a young woman who is going hard for what she feels she’s worth. You have to stand in your worth and be able to walk away.

At the end of the day you keep your self-respect and make a statement to the world. That takes a lot of courage because sometimes you’re wrong, but you still leave with your integrity. I was very immature when I was young. Left Eye did some immature things, but at the end of the day, she was saying, “I’m here, I’m important, I matter,” and that’s what I loved about her. She made her statement, she made her mark, and she’s unforgettable.

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Pepa: She was very clear on her direction in life. You will definitely remember Left Eye: the eye-patch, the condoms on the shirt. She was just so alive and in your face with it. She was boisterous and had a good attitude that you need in this male-dominated world. She’ll never get lost.

Salt: To me, her legacy is to live out loud. She was authentic, she was herself, she was unapologetic about who she was. We would all like to be that way and sometimes we shy away from that because we’re afraid of being judged. She was judged, but she was willing to be judged. That’s what I really loved about her.

PaperMag

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Interview, Review

TLC: How We Made “Waterfalls”

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Rozonda ‘Chilli’ Thomas, singer

Anything that’s self-destructive, that’s chasing a waterfall. We wanted to make a song with a strong message – about unprotected sex, being promiscuous, and hanging out in the wrong crowd. The messages in Waterfalls hit home. I think that’s why it’s our biggest hit to date.

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When it first went to radio, nobody got it. They didn’t understand what we were talking about. It needed the video to bring the words to life. Even I don’t think I really fell in love with the song until I saw it. The moment I did, I knew it would be a hit.

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The timing was perfect. Organized Noize produced the track. They’d been working with Outkast and Goodie Mob and that funky, soulful sound that was their signature. CeeLo Green sang backing vocals – way before he was a big star. P Diddy did some interludes on the album, CrazySexyCool, too. But obviously, once our voices got on there, it became a TLC record.

The song made us much more relevant – not just a fun girl group. We were bringing awareness to subjects people were nervous talking about. It was groundbreaking for us: from then on, we were seen as the real deal.

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We definitely wanted to be role models. We felt like a lot of females didn’t have other females pulling for them – so every song we put out was a girl-power song. We told it from a woman’s point of view. Women liked that and men respected it.

AIDs is still out there. You still have bullying. You still have drugs. But you have to continue to bring awareness so that people can become more responsible and want to do the right things. You can never have too many records like Waterfalls.

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Tionne ‘T-Boz’ Watkins, singer and songwriter

I always loved what you’d call alternative music. Nirvana, Kurt Cobain, Duran Duran, Billy Idol. Bennie and the Jets by Elton John was my thing. I was born in Iowa and moved to Atlanta when I was a child.

Every time I tell people I’m from Iowa, they go: “There’s black people there?” I actually have a T-shirt that says: “Yes, there are black people in Iowa.”

I wanted Waterfalls to be our version of alternative music. When I heard an early version, I thought: “My god, this is perfect.” It was so left of what we’d done on our first album. It was amazeballs.

When we had finished recording it, we played it for Clive Davies, the big kahuna at the label. He was the boss of Arista, which distributed our label La Face. He didn’t like it. He said it was too deep. He didn’t think people would bump up the street to it.

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So we went to LA Reid, who ran LaFace. We bought a giant poster and wrote on it: “Please believe in us, we’ll make the best video ever.” He went against Clive and put up the money. We called in F Gary Gray to direct the video.

The first time he showed us the concept – which showed a kid getting killed selling drugs and a guy contracting HIV – we started crying.

AIDS was an epidemic at the time. Not long after the song came out, I was doing a book-signing and a man came up to me and held my hand. “I didn’t kill myself because of you,” he said. “I felt like nobody understood. But I felt like you guys understood how people can end up in my situation.”

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The day before recording, I’d been in a car with Lisa [“Left Eye” Lopes, who was killed in a car accident in 2002]. We saw a beautiful rainbow. That’s how her rap starts: “I seen a rainbow yesterday.” She’d been through a lot with the house burning down, she’d been locked up in the centre for drug and alcohol treatment.

That was serious, what she said was real. It was for herself and everyone else who had been down the wrong path, chased the wrong things. And she really did see that rainbow – and it made her feel good about life and remember how precious it is. That song still has meaning 25 years on.

I will never forget the day we filmed that video. I can’t swim. It was 6am and I’m on this little plastic thing in the middle of 80,000 tonnes of water, in the lake where they shot Jaws at Universal Studios. That’s why my feet are planted. I do not move. I was so worried about falling in.

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When we showed the video to Clive, he was like: “I knew it would be great!” And we were looking at him like: “What? Hush up!” We eventually fired people and got out of our deal. We were so underpaid. We made a lot of people wealthy. Being a black woman in the industry means you have so much going against you.

I’m not fearful about anything. If I believe in something and want to to talk about it, then that’s what we’re doing. I’m just happy that we were able to succeed in what we set out to do – make a difference.

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TLC headline the Mighty Hoopla festival in Brockwell Park, London, on 3 June.
Interview serves as part of The Guardian’s weekly ‘How We Made‘ series. 
Review, Television

TLC’s “Creep” Recreated in Latest Episode of ‘Atlanta’

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Earn (Donald Glover), Paper Boi (Bryan Tyree Henry), and Darius (Lakeith Stanfield) were featured wearing familiar color-sequenced silky pajamas!
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And as an added bonus, a deleted scene from this week’s episode just surfaced showing Earn, Paper Boi and Darius getting down to TLC‘s 1994 hit, “Creep”.

Director, Hiro Murai shared the clip of the deleted scene on his social media. “couldn’t leave this on the edit room floor #atlantafx,” he stated.

We approve of the TLC love, and so do the girls!

Anniversary, Interview

TLC on Cardi B and Why They Don’t Celebrate Left Eye’s Passing

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TLC sat down with Beats 1 on April 25, 2018, the 16th anniversary of the passing of the beloved Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes.

On Cardi B Paying Them Homage

T-Boz: “I know she wore my outfits at the Grammys and she wore Lisa’s hair. It was our whole Grammys-TLC feel when we were on stage, and she said Left Eye on one song, and paid homage to TLC on another song — our “Creep” song and then our name, too. She did it twice and she also paid us love on our page. So a lot of love — it was awesome.”

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On TLC’s Legacy

T-Boz: “It’s really an honor. You never think people are going to be — like, you always wish that, you want that. We would always say, ‘we want to be trendsetters. We want little girls to dress like us.’ But when you actually see them do it for Halloween, and have birthday parties, and generations — the grandma, the mom, and the daughter — all at the concerts. It’s really amazing. We’re blessed to be 25 years in, and people are still doing it.”

Chilli: “We are really blessed. And like she said, as an artist when you’re new coming out, your dream is to be able to have that type of effect — a positive one — on everybody, and to have that longevity. You don’t know if that’s going to be your story, so time tells that, and it has. It’s been 20 plus years, and even Bruno Mars, for that matter — the video that he had featuring Cardi B — it was almost like our “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” video, and he had on a TLC t-shirt! It’s amazing and it’s a blessing for us to see that. It makes us feel really good and lets us know, OK we did it right. We’re still doing it, so yes, it is awesome.”

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On The Anniversary of Left Eye’s Passing

Chilli: “First of all, when you think of the word anniversary — I mean, I know that it’s a date that something took place. But when you think about that, you think of happy times.

When people celebrate the anniversary of a wedding, or a marriage, or a relationship of any kind, and it seems like to me it’s all something cheerful, and there’s nothing cheerful to me about her passing. I mean nothing. We don’t go out of our way to do anything like that. I mean, when her birthday comes around, yes, we talk about that, but not the death.”

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T-Boz: “But we celebrate it all year round. I mean really because we always incorporate her in everything we do. We always keep her memory alive. We showcase the great things, like why people loved her. So yeah, like when anybody else’s mom or sister dies, I don’t know a lot of people who celebrate cake or anything.”

 

Announcement, Competition

Win Tickets to TLC’s First UK Festival Mighty Hoopla!

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Summer is around the corner and that means the festivals are going to be kicking off in full effect!

The main one you don’t want to miss out on is the amazing Mighty Hoopla in London, featuring a slew of the greatest pop acts in the last 20 years, including Melanie C, Lily Allen, Louise, B*Witched and 5ive!

But the most exciting reason is because this year it has the exclusivity of being TLC‘s first UK festival performance, ever!

You can be in with a chance of winning a pair tickets to the event, which takes place in Brockwell Park on June 3rd.

To enter, simply head over to Facebook and comment on what your favourite TLC song is and tag a friend!

Best of luck to everyone!

Tickets are still available at http://bit.ly/MightyHoopla_2018

Announcement, Musical

The TLC Musical Will Happen!

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The music of TLC is very special, unique and timeless. So much so, their music deserves to be utilized in more ways, beyond the radio airwaves and on concert tours!

That is why the girls are continuing to push the boundaries and have big plans to create their very own TLC Broadway musical show!

Back in November 2017, TLC’s long term manager, Bill Diggins, revealed that he and the girls have a dream of producing a TLC Broadway show, based on the music of TLC!

“I predict that this will happen”, Diggins stated. “We are getting to work soon”.

Whilst attending the iconic show TINA: The Tina Turner Musical in London this week (April 20), Diggins excitedly stated that “the TLC musical will happen!“.

Are you excited for a musical based on the biggest selling US girl group of all time?

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Bill Diggins at the Tina Turner musical in London

Stay tuned and we’ll keep you informed when the show progresses!

Announcement, Concert

TLC In Talks To Tour Africa!

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TLC have toured the world and touched numerous countries in recent years for the first time, except for Africa – but that could be about to change!

Chilli was asked by a fan on Twitter (April 18) if TLC would be touring Africa, and she couldn’t say, replying with a mouth shut emoji! 🙊

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T-Boz also touched on the subject via Instagram (April 13), saying “I think we’re going to Africa, [it] sounds like it’s gonna work out, I THINK!”

“So, don’t hold me to it unless you start hearing it on social media”, T-Boz continued. “If we can work the deal out, which we’re trying to, the goal is we’re coming to Africa.”

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The news comes as a welcomed surprise to TLC’s African fans, especially over in South Africa, where fans have been praying for a TLC tour over there for years!

We hope the girls can finalize a tour deal in Africa very soon!

And yes, we agree Tionne, “Africa’s far!” (quote from 1998’s Belly), but it’s so worth the airmiles! 😉

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