History, Interview, Music, Review

Kandi: “I Wasn’t Sure ‘No Scrubs’ Would be a TLC Single With Chilli on Lead Vocals Instead of T-Boz”

Kandi Burruss of the 90’s R&B girl group Xscape and most recently known as a long-term cast member on Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Atlanta, opened up to Entertainment Weekly this week about some of the mega-hits that she has helped to carve out for other artists during her Xscape downtime.

Along with her group member Tameka “Tiny” Harris, the duo penned a number of Billboard number one hits and Grammy Award winning singles, most notably for their girl group peers, “Bills, Bills, Bills” for Destiny’s Child, and before that, the worldwide record-breaking “No Scrubs” for TLC.

Kandi reflects on the moment record label boss LA Reid got hold of her “No Scrubs” demo, produced by Shek’spere, and immediately wanted it for TLC. “I was like, ‘Cool. Let them have it’, because I always wanted to write for other artists, I just didn’t know how to do it”, Kandi admits.

She then touches on the subtle rivalry the industry placed on girl groups. It was also no secret that Jermaine Dupri wanted himself a group like TLC, and would guide Kandi to sing low like T-Boz. “There’s always that low-key rivalry thing that would go around in the industry. It was like, ‘How are you going to get somebody else to let you write for them, and you’re in a whole other girl group?'”

Despite “No Scrubs” being hugely successful and remains her biggest writing credit to date, Kandi admits that she wasn’t completely sure if the song would make it on the 1999 ‘FanMail‘ album at all.

The main reason for Kandi’s uncertainty was the fact that “No Scrubs” marked the first time the roles had switched on a TLC single, with Chilli leading the vocals on the track instead of the regular formula of T-Boz on lead vocals.

“They were going back and forth on what they wanted to do with the song because that’s the first song that Chilli sang lead on. So that’s why I wasn’t really sure if that song was going to be a first single, or even a single at all. Normally, T-Boz was the lead, so I didn’t know if they were going to keep it”, Kandi said.

LA Reid later ran into Kandi at a party and promised her that he was going to make “No Scrubs” the biggest writing hit of her career. “I’m looking at him like, ‘Okay.’ But in my mind I was thinking, ‘Well Xscape, we’ve had some big records… Whatever you say.’ But he wasn’t lying. He was serious, and he really did.”

Chilli did her thing on “No Scrubs” and helped the song to go down in history as the biggest female anthem in the world, that men can also relate to! The song took on a life of it’s own and Left Eye once called it ‘a national anthem’!

Switching up the vocal format was a smart idea which helped to keep TLC fresh and on top of their game.

Which other TLC songs would you want the girls to have fun with? T-Boz leads on “No Scrubs”? Chilli on “Waterfalls” leads? Let us know!

Announcement, Appearance, History, Interview, News, Television, Tribute

A&E Producing ‘Biography: TLC’ Documentary In 2021

Despite the entertainment industry being forced to be put on hold during the global pandemic, the ladies of TLC have been given some time to focus on other projects that they were previously negotiating but were always pushing back because of major touring opportunities that took priority.

TLC finally decided to reveal to Rolling Stone that they are producing an all-new documentary! The two-hour special, titled ‘Biography: TLC, will chronicle the journey of the top-selling girl group throughout their career in the Nineties and beyond, featuring interviews with surviving members T-Boz and Chilli. ‘Biography: TLC’ will be directed by Matt Kay, and executive-produced by Roger Ross Williams (The Apollo) and his production company with Geoff Martz, One Story Up.

In addition to the stories that we all know and love in previous documentaries such as VH1’s ‘Behind The Music’, MTV’s ‘BIO Rhythm’, ‘Life In 3D’, and the Netflix special, ‘Once In A Lifetime Sessions‘, there is going to be some exclusive stories in ‘Biography: TLC’ that the public have never heard before and it will feature insights to the girls lives that the public have never seen before.

“The Biography banner has always focused on telling the stories of remarkable people who have had a major impact on our collective culture,” A&E Network EVP and head of programming Elaine Frontain Bryant said. “As a revolutionary group that broke boundaries and influenced an entire generation, TLC falls directly into that category and we are honored to tell their incredible story as it has never been told before.”

“As someone who has long been in awe of TLC and their musical and cultural impact, I am thrilled to be a part of bringing the story of their music, their journey, and their continuing reverence to the screen,” Williams said in a press release. “I am grateful for the opportunity to work with A&E, as well as filmmaker Matthew Kay, to bring this film to life. We hope this film illuminates a side of this incredible group and Tionne ‘T-Boz’ Watkins, Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes, and Rozonda ‘Chilli’ Thomas that long-time fans and viewers alike have not seen before.”

Are you excited about the new TLC documentary?

Anniversary, History, Interview, Music, News

Left Eye’s N.I.N.A Project For Death Row Features Ray-J (Full Album Link)

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Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes shocked the world when she signed with Suge Knight‘s reinvention of his classic Death Row records, renamed as Tha Row back in 2002, as a result of her disappointment at her home label, Arista Records, failing to support her debut solo album, ‘Supernova, in 2001.

Lisa’s new moniker was N.I.N.A (New Identity Non-Applicable) on Tha Row, a name given to her by Knight, as he felt her small frame was like a small 9mm handgun (which has a street name of ‘nina’). When she was spotted with Knight at a Lakers/Grizzlies game in LA on Nov 9, 2001, Lisa explains to EW, “I was visited by a man in my dream, one that sweated me all night about Mr. Suge Knight. He was right, but that’s a whole other story.”

Eastwood, a label mate of N.I.N.A on Tha Row worked with her on her solo project shortly before she passed away on April 25, 2002. He told Variety that he worked on 99.5% of her second solo album, and even co-wrote her verse on TLC‘s single, “Girl Talk“, the lead track from their ‘3D album in 2002.

“You know the song “Girl Talk” with TLC? That was their last joint — I wrote her verse on there. If you go back and listen to it, you’ll hear me respond to her in the beginning of that verse. This happened three days before she passed”, Eastwood said.

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Producer Darren Vegas worked on the majority of the tracks for the N.I.N.A project, and when she tragically passed away he was given the task to work with material that was left over, mostly comprising of masters from her previous solo album. “Her vibe was real cool,” he says. “I expected her to be all wild and stuff from what I’d heard, [but] she was real laid back and calm”, he told LA Weekly.

“When she was [signed to Tha Row] she didn’t drink at all. She was on a cleanse, and she actually got artists at Death Row to do cleansings, as she was back and forth to Honduras”, he continues. “She just seemed real determined to have the world hear a solo album. The stuff we were working on, we weren’t copying what she had done [with TLC]. We were creating a brand new sound.”

Many of the tracks were released online over the years as the project was eventually abandoned, officially. Jordan Cooper of the Left Eye fanpage The Eye Is Right decided that the project deserved some more attention, and decided to compile all of the available material from the project as one album for all to enjoy.

After creating some polls with fans on social media, the title of the project was decided as the self-titled ‘N.I.N.A‘, which was released on July 25, 2020 via the fanpage. It also features a version of “Too Street 4 TV” featuring Brandy‘s brother Ray-J, who also signed to Tha Row for a brief period of time.

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‘Tha Row Presents… N.I.N.A.’

Tracklist:
1. Block Party (featuring Eastwood and Phobia)
2. Life (featuring Danny Boy and Eastwood)
3. Let Me Live (featuring Crooked I)
4. Universal Quest (featuring Crooked I)
5. Rags to Riches (featuring Kurupt)
6.Untouchable (with 2Pac)
7. I Believe In Me
8. Hot Lanta (featuring Kurupt and Juvenile)
9. Tru Confessions
10.Too Street 4 TV (featuring Danny Boy)
11. Friends (featuring Kurupt and Danny Boy)

Bonus Tracks:
12. Life (Alternate Version) (Featuring Carl Thomas and Eastwood)
13. Too Street 4 TV (OG Version) (Featuring Ray J.)
14. Crush on You (with Ejypt)

Cover designed by Demar Maurice.

Grab a copy of the full album HERE

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Anniversary, History, Interview, Review

25 Years Of “Freedom”: The Top R&B Divas Of The 90’s Unite To Create Epic Black Girl Magic

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In fall of 1995, more than 60 female musicians traveled to Capitol Records in Los Angeles, where they recorded both the vocals and the visuals to the ground-breaking single, “Freedom“, on the same day. The single was the title track to the Mario Van Peebles directed movie, ‘Panther‘, based on the Black Panther Party.

Women’s publication Zora gave us a well documented account of events of how this historic masterpiece came together. The song was originally recorded by the singer Joi for her debut album, produced by Dallas Austin. It was later picked up, reconceptualized, and released as ‘Panther’s official theme song.

Former label executive Ed Ecksein says having a record featuring all women sent a message about the film before it even hit theaters. “The power behind the organization was women. The backbone behind the organization was women,” he says. “So we needed to do something similar on the soundtrack as we did for the BMU record (Black Men United).”

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The actual day of the track’s recording required ultimate levels of coordination and an understanding of how and why to stagger artists’ arrivals and recording schedules to avoid overlaps. There were camera crews, food service, hair and makeup, but no egos in sight.

Even with stars like Queen Latifah, Vanessa Williams, MC Lyte, Mary J Blige, Aaliyah, Brownstone, Salt-N-Pepa, Patra, XScape, and En Vogue in the house, A&R Sam Sapp remembers this remarkable tidbit: “Everyone was in the same room, and there was no VIP area.”

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TLC were determined to be a part of this amazing project but were unable to be there at the same time as the other artists, so they recorded their parts at a later date and were edited into the final mix.

In order to work around Left Eye‘s probation-related travel restrictions Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins says the trio recorded vocals in a local Atlanta studio and filmed the video from the conference room at LaFace Records.

“It was the most amazing thing to have my fist pumped and have on this hat that had a Black ballplayer and a ball on the front and represent,” she says. “It made you feel so proud to be Black. It was an awesome thing to be a part of.”

The record was also a game changer in that both an R&B and a rap version were featured on the soundtrack. Sapp says artists were freestyling to the instrumental while waiting to record, and they commissioned the “Dallas’ Dirty Half Dozen Mix” on the spot.

The “Freedom” single was a top charter on the ‘Panther’ soundtrack, peaking at #10 on Billboard’s R&B Singles Chart and snagging the #45 spot on the Hot 100.

While there may not be as many Black women artists today, they are still making their mark in music. For the first time in history, four Black female soloists recently occupied the Hot 100’s top two slots (Doja Cat‘s “Say So” remix with Nicki Minaj took the top spot, with Megan Thee Stallion and Beyonce‘s “Savage” remix at the second spot).

As for another Black woman collective recording in the future, “Freedom” artists are passing the torch.

“It should be another song now with the new generation of artists that would show people that we’re sticking together,” T-Boz says. “I think it’s needed again, especially with the state of the world today.”

Read the full story from Zora here.

Artists featured on “Freedom”:

Aaliyah, Amel Larrieux, Brownstone, Jade, Blackgirl, SWV, Monica, MC Lyte, Salt-N-Pepa, Mary J Blige, Tanya Blount, Changing Faces, En Vogue, TLC, Felicia Adams, Joi, N’Dea Davenport, For Real, Zhane, Eshe, Queen Latifah, Billy Lawrence, Lalah Hathaway, Brigette McWilliams, Miss Jones, Me’Shell NdegéOcello, Pebbles, Patra, Chantay Savage, Sonja Marie, Xscape, Terri & Monica, Y?N-Vee, Vanessa Williams, Karyn White, Caron Wheeler, Crystal Waters, Vybe, Tracie Spencer, Brenda Russell, Sweet Sable, Raja-Nee, Pure Soul, Nefertiti, Natasha, Yo-Yo, Cindy Mizelle, Milira, Da 5 Footaz, Emage, E.V.E, Penny Ford, Jazzyfatnastees.