“It’s been a long, long time coming“, the opening line from ‘Way Back‘, the first single lifted from TLC‘s first album in 15 years, which was released a year ago today on June 30, 2017!
After breaking the record for the fastest Kickstarter funded pop project ever in 2015 (they raised over $430k and smashed their $150k deadline in under 48 hours), the girls were finally ready to unleash their hard work to the world, independently on their own label, 852 Musiq.
The album went on to become the #1 Independent Album on Billboard and topped the R&B Album Charts in the UK and in other parts of the world, whilst the lead single ‘Way Back’ remained in the Adult R&B singles chart for months.
We are still super stoked about this solid body of work produced by T-Boz and Chilli.
The essence of Left Eye‘s is ever present on the record, too — through a shout out on “No Introduction“, where they sing “Left Eye still here, irreplaceable position“, and an interlude featuring Left Eye talk about her wishes and aspirations.
Earlier this month, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins took some time out to speak with the hit travel podcast, ‘All The S**t I’ve Learned Abroad‘, with Steph Paige and Andrea Gillis about her travel experiences and opens up about her thoughts and feelings on the Black Lives Matter movement.
Tionne can completely relate to the loss of George Floyd, who was tragically murdered in broad daylight by police last month, as her cousin Eddie Russell Jr was also killed when he was shot by Illinois police in September 2017, despite informing them that he suffered with a mental illness to deter them from using unjust force.
“The only difference with racism [today] is that it’s being taped now. There’s still people doing modern day lynching, and that’s what you’re seeing when you see cases like Ahmaud Aubury and George Floyd”, Tionne says. “I’ve looked up all of these cases — my cousin was actually one of them that was gunned down with AR-15’s and shot 18 times. They blew his jaw off and the back of his head, and he was mentally ill. They told my cousin to call her son out and they gunned him down as soon as he came out of that garage”.
In the midst of these constant tragedies against black people, Tionne is pleased to see that the Black Lives Matter movement is also being supported by non-black people, who aren’t afraid to use their voices to help to make a change. “I’m looking at all of these races come together to fight for the same thing. Even caucasian people are saying they’re tired of black people being murdered by white cops”, Tionne says. “It broke my heart the other day when Ashton Kutcher almost started crying because his white friends kept saying ‘all lives matter’, and he said no, black lives DO matter.”
Tionne also addresses the fact that a lot of the looting and vandalism isn’t always carried out by black people. With that said, although she doesn’t agree with the looting, she does understand why it happens sometimes. “It might not be right, but I understand it. I might not like it, because I’ve been robbed before when I had my store [Chase’s Closet], but I understand why they’re doing it”, Tionne exclaims.
One of the saddest realities of living in an unjust world as a black person is reassuring the younger generation that they shouldn’t be afraid of all police. Tionne mentions how her children, daughter Chase Rolison and her four year old son, Chance, become very frightened of the police, especially with so much coverage on the brutality against the black community. “It’s a shame that when police are around my daughter she gets nervous, and when I ask her what’s wrong she says it’s because she’s black. My kids shouldn’t have to feel that way”, Tionne explains. “Being black, period, you have to have a different conversation with your child that you don’t really want to have”.
Tionne reveals that she was also pulled over by the police just for being a black woman driving a nice car. “I’ve been pinned down with 10 cops and guns at my head. My car light had a short in it, so I pulled over and flicked it on and off, and they said I was doing a gang initiation. They had 10 cops lay me out on the car, pat me down with guns to my head. What if someone’s finger had slipped?”, Tionne says.
In another occasion, while Tionne was 6 and a half months pregnant, driving her Porsche on the way back from recording at DARP studios for a TLC record, when she was once again ambushed by police unnecessarily. “He pulls me over and asks what I’m doing in this neighbourhood and ‘you better recite your address, say it fast and you better not stutter!’. Then he asks me how can I afford this car. But I have to take it because he has a gun and I don’t and I’m being disrespected about something I haven’t done, because of his ignorant issues about the world. When the cops found out who I was, he just threw my licence at me and said that I could go”.
Addressing racial prejudice within the music industry, Tionne vents her frustrations on her group TLC being labelled as an R&B group just because they are black, despite producing pop music. “Predominantly, TLC release universal music. Our music fits every genre — except a country song, but I want to!”, Tionne confesses. “But mostly pop — “No Scrubs” is pop, “Waterfalls” is pop, “Unpretty” is pop. But when you’re black, and do a pop song, they still call it R&B — I’m not just an R&B group, don’t box me in just because of my colour. We have different fights within the industry where if you’re black you get paid less than the white groups.”
To hear more about Tionne’s revelations and experiences, including incidents in Paris and South Africa whilst travelling, and why she wants to visit Bora Bora, check out the full episode below!
Be sure to subscribe to the “All The S**t I’ve Learned Abroad” podcast on Spotify.
Melanie C of the Spice Girls recently spoke about TLC on her regular #AskMelanieC Q&A session on Facebook Live in May, and focused her favourite member, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, with whom she famously worked with on her #1 single, “Never Be The Same Again” in 2000. This was the second time this year Mel praised Lisa publicly, she spoke about her in April as part of the Track-By-Track celebration of her debut album, ‘Northern Star‘.
Melanie said that she and the rest of the Spice Girls loved TLC and were inspired by them in the early days. When discussing how her collaboration with Lisa happened, she says that it became a reality when she decided her song needed a rap and only wanted Left Eye to do it. The producer Rhett Lawrence had previously worked with TLC and was able to reach out and Lisa loved the idea.
“When writing the song, we got to the middle eight where the rap is — the middle eight is the bit where the music is on it’s own which is completely different to the verses and the chorus, about three quarters of the way in”, Melanie explains. “I could just hear a Lisa ‘Left Eye’ styled rap, the way she had a unique style and the rhythms that she used.”
“She recorded the rap — Lisa was one of the writers of the rap, but she had a little team that they wrote it together with”, Melanie recalls. “It was a brilliant rap, and it really works with the song. The context is just so brilliant. It was meant to be. I’m very proud that I got to work with her”.
Melanie remembers the different occasions she was able to hang around Lisa to get to know her more. “We hung out a few times. I wasn’t in the studio when she recorded her rap. I must have been in the UK at the time. It was sent to me and I loved it immediately”, she confessed. “We hung out in LA just to get to know each other a little bit — we shot the video together obviously”.
“One of my favourite moments would be learning the dance. Doing the video was really fun because that was when we really got to work properly together”, Melanie said. “She came to the the UK to do some promo for Top Of The Pops and we did some MTV stuff. It was just amazing to work with her and get to know her for a bit. She was like a force of nature”.
Melanie got emotional when she recalls the moment she was told about the news that Lisa had passed away. “It was such a shock when I got the call. I was in Italy when she passed away — she was in a car accident and she was only 30, so it was very sad indeed”, Mel said. “Whenever I do the song [live] I always think of her”.
Melanie C had the opportunity to meet Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas for the first time in 2018, when she performed at the same Mighty Hoopla festival that TLC were headlining in London and admits that seeing them without Lisa made her feel emotional.
“I did the song at the Mighty Hoopla a few years back and TLC were headlining that gig and it was the first time I had met T-Boz and Chilli”, she recalls. “I was so excited to meet them and I just burst into tears because it made me think of Lisa”, an emotional Mel recalls before changing the subject.
Melanie C’s new single, “Who I Am“, is out now. Watch TLC in their latest TV project ‘Iconic: TLC‘
TLC had the tough job of picking a winner from the four talented musicians that participated in this special quarantine friendly combined music talent show and tribute, ‘Iconic: TLC‘, which debuted on The CW on June 1st.
Presented by American Idol star Jordin Sparks, she promises the show will be “TLC like you’ve never heard them before!”
First up was the Fifth Harmony superstar Ally Brooke, who admits that her group was heavily inspired by TLC. She gave T-Boz and Chilli a stripped back acoustic rendition of their first Billboard #1, 1994’s “Creep“.
“You made it extra sexy”, Chilli says to Ally. “T can’t make it that sexy”. T-Boz laughs and defends herself saying, “I don’t get sexy like that, you know what I’m saying!” T-Boz states that “a lot of producers have tried to put their own spin on that song and failed, so you’re the first person to do that song justice”, she told Ally.
Country duo Locash were next up to perform for the girls. They throw in a banjo and a fiddle to take on the major TLC hit, 1999’s “No Scrubs“.
T-Boz tells the group how much she loved the inclusion of the banjo during the hook and how they managed to keep the hip-hop essence of the song. Chilli co-signs, saying it was excellent.
Touching on how the artists have done so far, TLC feel these are the best covers they’ve heard to date. “They’ve done our songs better than any artist that I’ve ever heard do it”, T-Boz admits. “Real talk!”, Chilli agrees.
Pop singer MAX is up next to perform for the girls. He opens up about enjoying seeing them perform live at the Firefly festival before he performs a laid back rendition of their iconic hit, 1992’s “Baby-Baby-Baby“.
The girls loved his version of their hit. “The way you did the bridge mixed with the harmonies, and [the guitarist] did the ad libs in the background, I love that”, T-Boz gushes. “The guitar made it super sexy. The way you performed it was really sexy”, Chilli adds.
Last but not least were hip-hop duo siblings Ceraadi, who consider themselves underdogs who are very influenced by TLC. The sisters decided to perform the groundbreaking classic, 1995’s “Waterfalls“, complete with their own unique spin on Left Eye‘s iconic rap.
The rap sounded very much like Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, which made T-Boz and Chilli feel a little emotional. “At first, when you were rapping I had to say wait a minute, that’s not Lisa is it? It threw me off a little bit — the tone is really close”, Chilli admits. “It made me a little tearful because, that’s my sister”. “The way you changed the octave on ‘moving too fast’, loved it”, T-Boz adds.
After taking some time to decide who they wanted to choose to collaborate with at the end of the show, T-Boz and Chilli jointly decide to pick country duo Locash for a special performance of their 1999 hit, “Unpretty“.