While most people saw Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes as just the crazy rapper in TLC, many people will know that her talents were much deeper, as showcased on her debut solo album, 2001’s ‘Supernova‘, which she recorded for Arista Records during TLC’s hiatus after the success of 1999’s ‘FanMail‘.
Grammy award-winning mixing engineer Gary Noble worked with Lisa on the project, most notably with Salaam Remi on the album’s first single, “The Block Party“. Gary spoke with Revolt TV about some of his fondest memories of working with the multi-talented Lopes.
“I loved working with Lisa. She was really cool. To be honest, before we worked with her and they told us to go work with her, I was a little apprehensive. I didn’t know what to expect because of all of the media. When she came in, she was dressed down, had fatigues on, a hat on, no makeup, and was like, ‘I’m here. I’m ready. Let’s work.’
She was a prolific writer and those sessions made me realize she was the main creative force of TLC. She can sing sing, for real. People might write her off as the crazy third member, but she was actually a major creative force. I had a great time working with her.
She was very personable and cool. She was asking questions. When she first was recording, I noticed there were some sibilances and pops in her vocals. So, I adjusted the mic and she asked me, ‘Yo, why are you changing it?’ I told her it’ll help lessen the pops and sibilances.
When I did it and she sang she was like, ‘Oh, this sounds a lot better.’ Instead of me doing it at the boards, I went in and adjusted the mic. It helped her still keep the presence of her vocals, but still have the blast of air from your mouth hitting the mic at an angle instead of straight on. It also made her extend her neck a little bit to help her project her voice.
She gave me the name and phone number for her doctor, Dr. Sebi. She’s the first one who ever told me about him. She was like, ‘Gary, if you ever get the chance, go see him. He’s a great guy. You’re going to love his energy and his spirit.’
When she died, she was actually down there for her annual sabbatical where she goes to get a cleansing. It was sad that she died. She was an extremely talented, personable person.”
Read more about Gary’s studio experiences with other superstars including Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill and Nas.
Hip-Hop Evolution is a hit Canadian music documentary series that originally aired on HBO Canada in 2016, which has since spawned 3 seasons on Netflix, featuring in-depth interviews with a selection of some of hip-hop’s original artists, producers, DJs, and promoters.
A hot and sticky music scene is born in Atlanta as the infectious hooks of TLC and Kris Kross yield to the gritty originality of OutKast and Goodie Mob.
In it’s 3rd season, our very own Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins shares details of her humble beginnings of how she started out in the business and the major part she played in helping to shape Atlanta: ‘The Dirty South’, to become the pioneering force in music that it is today.
Before the music scene was dominated with what we know today as ‘twerking’, T-Boz says it was originally known as something else. “We used to call it shake dancing before it was called twerking, and then that started the stripping thing in the strip capital”, T-Boz reminisces. “Atlanta was the shake dance capital”.
L.A. Reid and Babyface decided to uproot from Los Angeles and arrived in Atlanta in 1989 to launch their new label, LaFace Records. T-Boz was working in a hair salon at the time, when she learned that her friend, Marie Davis, used to do hair for Pebbles, who was married to L.A. Reid at the time.
“I was like, ‘yo, you need to go and tell Pebbles that I’m the bomb, she need to holla at me'”, T-Boz recalls. “I didn’t really think that she would do it, but Pebbles called me at home that night. It was Chilli, me and Lisa. We were calling ourselves TLC. It wasn’t really girly, but it had a lot of hip-hop elements. Lisa, she came in as a little, feisty rapper, so that gave us that hip-hop element.”
T-Boz was only interested in working with producers in Atlanta, her long-time friend, Dallas Austin, to be precise. “When we did get to L.A. Reid, he asked who we wanted to work with and I would only say Dallas Austin, he has to be our producer — and he got it”.
Despite the crossover appeal of TLC and Dallas Austin, a soulful team of producers were waiting to be discovered. Rico Wade, Ray Murray and Sleepy Brown aka Organized Noize, were good friends with T-Boz, who introduced the production trio to Pebbles.
Pebbles being interested in their talents led them to work with other LaFace Records artists, which in turn led to the discovery of Outkast, Goodie Mob and the Dungeon Family.
Organized Noize eventually crafted the most iconic TLC single in history, the legendary “Waterfalls“.
Catch the unmissable Hip-Hop Evolution series on Netflix now.
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T-Boz goes way back to the beginning of her career in season 3 of the hit Netflix documentary 'Hip-Hop Evolution'. This is how Atlanta was put on the map! @therealtboz @officialtlc @dallasaustins @official_ianburke #tlc #igtv #tboz #hiphopevolution #tlcarmy #laface #lefteye #chilli #outkast #organizednoize #atlanta #netflix #dungeonfamily #sleepybrown #liljon #ceelogreen #dallasaustin #lareid #pebbles #history #twerk #shakedance
Following that phenomenal video Chilli went viral with last month, dancing to her son, Tron Austin‘s latest single, “Captions“, the mother and son made an appearance on Good Day Atlanta to talk about everything from Tron’s expectations as a new artist to Chilli’s life on tour with TLC!
Music comes as second nature to Tron, with his dad being the super producer Dallas Austin, and of course his mom being a member of the super group TLC. Tron has been itching to get his creativity out in the world, and now that he has graduated from college, it’s the perfect time to make it happen.
“Ever since I got out of college it’s been so surreal for me”, Tron exclaims. “I need to get to that next level — I need to make a name for myself now, too. So, after I had my records done and I was able to bring it to my mom, and she even volunteered and said she wants to dance to my song, it makes me feel good because it feels like I’m really doing it”.
Tron feels that having a mom that is a member of the biggest-selling girl group of all time has it’s advantages and disadvantages, as the stakes are super high now. “Some people would say it’s more pressure added because of that reason”, Tron admits. “I think all that stuff is true, but it’s all in good terms. It’s good pressure in the advantages. She can help guide me, and make sure my path is clear, too”.
Chilli co-signs Tron, announcing how proud she is of her son and although she didn’t want him to be in the music industry, as she knows how hard it can be, but he is passionate about his craft so she is fully supportive of him. “He has what it takes, and he’s very humble! We don’t play those games!”, Chilli laughs.
Tron opens up about how close he his to his mom, and gives Chilli props for being able to perfectly balance being a parent and a friend at the same time. “Obviously the respect is always there, it’s not like she was just my friend”, Tron says. “But at the same time I think my mom has managed a good balance between being a great parent and know how to be a good friend to your child from a young age and now that I’m an adult, it’s still the same type of way”.
Tron explains that he would like his music to reflect his originality and his love for all of the genres that he grew up with. “My sound is more like pop, mixed with hip-hop and R&B, because I sing too”, Tron says. “I try and do as much as possible and fuse things together, because the more you fuse things together, the more ears that you can please”.
Chilli gushes about the recent TLC ‘Whole Lotta Hits‘ tour that wrapped last month across North America with rappers Nelly and Flo Rida. “We did the tour with Live Nation. It was amazing. We’ve always been on tour, but some tours are a lot more fun than others, and this was one of them, for sure”, Chilli admits.