Interview, Music, News

Jermaine Dupri: “Left Eye & Kris Kross Were The Original So So Def” and Regrets Not Signing TLC!

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The legendary hip-hop producer and So So Def founder Jermaine Dupri took part in T.I.‘s latest podcast episode of ExpidiTIously (April 2) to discuss his career from the very beginning of his early years in Atlanta.

Dupri touches on the moment Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes came into his life as a solo artist from Philadelphia, who had nowhere to stay, so she used to sleep in his closet which had been transformed into a vocal booth. JD had gotten himself a reputation as ‘the dude with all the studio equipment’, which attracted a lot of up and coming artists that were often introduced to him by music mogul Ian Burke.

Lisa and Jermaine began writing songs for Kris Kross, Dupri’s latest teenage rap duo he discovered in a shopping mall, comprised of Chris Smith and Chris Kelly. “Lisa was helping me write these songs [for Kris Kross], and we wrote this song called ‘The Girl Is Mine‘, where I sampled Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney“, JD recalls. “Chris and Chris were arguing over Left Eye, and she rapped to them. This was my mindset of the single. I was like, “This is it, this is the single. Two little boys arguing over this girl. She’s grown, ya’ll little. That concept didn’t work”. The duo weren’t feeling it so the song was scrapped.

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Chilli and Left Eye with DJ Dolemix on the TLC video set “Baby-Baby-Baby” in 1992

Lisa would sometimes even beg for money at the local airport. “She went to Hartsfield Airport every day and posed as one of them kids who needed money for a church to make money”, JD recalls. “She would come back to me and say, “Look at all this money that I got! I made the sign, they give me the money“. She would come back with $200, $400. She figured it out”.

Lisa expressed her creative ideas very early on as she inspired Jermaine to think outside of the box, which helped the fashion of Kris Kross. “She just wanted to make music. She could rap, I like her — mentally she could write. She was talking to me about concepts”, JD says. “I was very intrigued with the fact that she would come up with things that we should do — like, cut your eyebrows off! We had the parts in the eyebrow, and then I had three parts for like a month. I was like, what next? She would say shave the whole eyebrow off and just have one!”

“We’re in this room just trying to think of shit. That’s how the backwards jeans came about. Like, “JD, go get a nose ring, that shit is cold!“. Left Eye was the heartbeat of me trying to do things, her and my conversations and her and Chris and Chris’ conversations with her. In the end, that was the crew — Ian, Left Eye, Chris and Chris and Jermaine. We were the unstoppable team that didn’t have nothing — that was the first So So Def!”

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Left Eye with Xscape members Kandi and Tiny on the set of Xscape “Am I Dreaming” in 1998

A few days before the podcast was released, Jermaine shared an article on his Instagram (March 31) in which he declared his regrets at not taking TLC under his wings at the same time as Kris Kross. “I was only 19 years old at the time and didn’t believe in myself as a person, as someone having the bandwidth to have both artists”, he admits. “I was putting so much energy into Kris Kross, and I was only giving TLC maybe 30 to 40 percent, not even 50 percent”.

“I felt that I was spreading myself thin by trying to provide both of these groups with what they needed to become the successes that they eventually both grew to become”, he continues. “So I eliminated myself from TLC being a group that I actually introduced to the world”. In the meantime, an encounter with Pebbles at a hair salon Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins worked at led to TLC being signed to LaFace Records instead.

Although he wasn’t quite ready to sign TLC in the early 90’s, he continued to play a big role in their sound, producing on their first three studio albums, including favourites like “Switch”, “Kick Your Game”, “My Life” and “Bad By Myself“. Jermaine was also responsible for conditioning T-Boz to sing in her iconic lower register. “Tionne would sing high, and Tionne would sing low”, Lisa explained on MTV in 1995. “But when Tionne sang low, Jermaine called it scruffy and said that is dope, let that be you, your voice, what you’re known for”.

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T-Boz with Jermaine Dupri on the video set to TLC “Baby-Baby-Baby” in 1992

Despite Jermaine having some success with his first girl group Silk Tymes Leather (whose member Dyonna “Diamond X” Lewis went on to become DJ Dolemix for TLC in their early days), and his missing out on signing TLC led him to having luck in the third attempt at working with a girl group, when Ian Burke introduced him to Xscape, who sang at his birthday party and he vowed to sign them. They were the first act on his own label, So So Def, a joint venture with Sony and Columbia which also homed Da Brat, Jagged Edge, 3LW and Bow Wow.

Do you think TLC should have signed to Jermaine’s So So Def label?

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TLC with Teddy Riley, Kris Kross and Jermaine Dupri
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Anniversary, Interview, Tribute

Melanie C Shares Her Time Working With Left Eye On Her First Solo Number One Record

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Mel C & Left Eye in 2000 (Credit: Ron Davis)

Melanie C aka Sporty Spice of the Spice Girls took the opportunity this week to celebrate her debut solo album, 1999’s ‘Northern Star‘, with the weekly pop podcast Track By Track to discuss the album in detail, track-by-track.

The year 2000 was a special time in music. TLC were on hiatus after the success of their mega-selling ‘FanMail‘ album and the record-breaking tour to support it, while the Spice Girls were also taking a break from world domination to focus on their solo projects.

Melanie C decided to team up with Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes on her debut solo album, which led to Melanie earning her first solo number one single in the UK in the summer of 2000, an exciting time for both TLC and Spice Girls fans!

The single in question was “Never Be The Same Again“. Melanie C gave us some beautiful memories of her time working with Lisa around the time of the single being released.

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Melanie proudly states that the Spice Girls were huge fans of TLC. “I couldn’t believe my luck when I had the opportunity to work with [Lisa]. And she was perfect!”, Melanie exclaims.

Lisa was the only rapper Mel C wanted on the track with her. “She was the only person I wanted on that song. I was writing with Rhett Lawrence & we got to the middle 8 & all I could hear was a Lisa-style rap”, she recalls. “He gave her a call & next thing I knew she was on the track. So that was a wonderful experience”.

Melanie states that she shot the spiritual video with Lisa in Malibu, which features a scene with Lisa and Melanie performing tai chi moves together while Lisa lays down her iconic verse, once again proving why she was the perfect choice for the track.

Following the success of the single in March 2000, Melanie invited Lisa to promote the single with her in London for a couple of performances and interviews to help keep the track at number one for a second week!

At the time of the promotional run, Lisa told Top Of The Pops: Backstage how she felt about being part of the success with Melanie. “Now that we might be number one twice in a row, I feel like I’m running a marathon and I’m almost at the finish line!”, she says excitedly.

The solo recognition also meant a lot to Lisa, as she was seeking to launch her solo career in the UK. “It is important. I’m going to be coming back over here to do a solo project of mine, so it is always good to be recognised and especially if you can make that number one slot”.

Lisa and Mel C also stopped by at BBC Radio One, where Lisa further discusses her need to have her voice heard solo. “I’ve always wanted to do a solo album. I am an emcee, and I love TLC — but I’m very limited to the amount of work that I can actually do. It’s usually a few songs, 16 bars here and there, and I like to really strut my stuff.”

“But as far as the rumors, we’re fine. We haven’t broken up. We went through a little something last year, but it’s not the first time that we’ve been through something, it’s just the first time that it was publicized”, Lisa explains.

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“The issues that have existed?”, Lisa continues,  “personal differences when it comes to business decisions and the direction that we move forward in. It’s one group, with three different people with three different visions, so which direction do we go in?”.

Mel C co-signs with Lisa about the struggles of being in a group. “We have earned the right to yell at each other”, Lisa jests. “You spend so much time together that you become like sisters”, Mel adds. “And no matter what’s said you still love each other. You iron out your differences and you sort it out”.

“Never Be The Same Again” will always be special to Mel C, not just because it blessed her with her first number one, but because Lisa was a part of it with her. “This will always be a very important song to me, obviously being my first UK No. 1 and really launching the whole album to new heights, but also sadly losing Lisa was so tragic, she was so young and such a huge talent, so I feel very lucky I was able to work with her and we have this piece of music, that we worked on together, forever”.

Melanie eventually got the chance to meet the rest of TLC in 2018 at the Mighty Hoopla in London, 19 years since she first worked with Lisa. Fans can always live in hope that the two biggest girl groups in history unite one day on tour. Lisa would have loved the idea.

Melanie C’s new single, “Who I Am“, is out now.
Announcement, Appearance, Interview, News, Television

Chilli Promotes TLC Concert On British Television While T-Boz Issues Statement Against False Information About Left Eye

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The UK were blessed with a surprise dose of TLC this week!

Chilli made an exclusive and debut appearance on the British breakfast television show, Good Morning Britain, on January 24, 2020 to talk everything TLC and to promote their upcoming show in London this summer on the 25th anniversary of their best-selling album, ‘CrazySexyCool‘.

T-Boz was unable to join her in the interview, which was a live satellite transmission from their studio in Los Angeles, as she had to take her daughter, Chase Rolison, to the hospital. So, Chilli held it down for her sister on her own.

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Chilli talked to hosts Ben Shephard and Kate Garraway about everything, from what she thinks about her UK fans and the weather, to how the ground-breaking hit “Waterfalls” was created and continuing the group to honor Left Eye.

She explained how they came up with the iconic dance to accompany the major hit. “It was born from a dance called the Bankhead Bounce, but we had to slow it down for “Waterfalls”, and put a little lean to it”, she told the presenters.

Chilli said it was a blessing that TLC’s music has stood the test of time and continues to sound as fresh today as it was back in the day. “When you’re in the studio working, you hope and you pray that you have timeless music. You don’t know at the time, so only time can tell you. It’s been a lot of years later and people still love the song. I think the lyrical content is what people can relate to and understand, so that helps, too”.

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TLC at the MTV Video Music Awards in 1999

When asked about whether they have ever been asked to hire a new 3rd member to replace Left Eye, Chilli reassures us that no member of TLC can ever be replaced, implying that people are finally understanding that fact, after continuing to tour as a duo with T-Boz over the years, keeping Lisa’s legacy alive and never muting her raps.

Chilli was surprised by Kate Garraway questioning her about Left Eye taking a day release from ‘prison’ to record for “CrazySexyCool”.

In 1994, Lisa was sentenced to five years probation at a diversion center after she set fire to her ex-boyfriend Andre Rison‘s trainers and subsequently burned down their home.

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TLC perfoming in 2019

Clearly astounded by Kate’s line of questioning, a perplexed Chilli asked: ‘Did you say prison?’

She then asked: ‘Jail?’ before simply laughing at Kate and brushed off the subject completely.

However, she did add: ‘We weren’t able to record at the same time, but she was very much a part of that.’

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T-Boz, who saw the interview later on, was also disappointed in Kate’s questioning, and took to her Twitter to make a statement. “It’s quite disappointing that Kate Garraway of Good Morning Britain decided to bait Chilli (who handled it very well) by disrespecting Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes in the midst of spreading false information during an interview.

T-Boz went on to school Kate on the facts of the subject she was trying to refer to during the interview. “Lisa was in a diversion center not “Prison” and that is completely unacceptable. It’s CLEAR Kate didn’t do her homework and stood by her preposterous statement. Sadly, Chilli never got a chance to promote our June 29th upcoming show at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire which was the point of the interview.”

GMB viewers were quick to pick up on the tension, as they took to Twitter to comment on the exchange.

 

#Ooops! “Did you say prison?” I don’t think Kate was supposed to go there. #GMB’ wrote one viewer.

While another remarked: ‘How to screw up an interview 101. Well done Kate #TLC #GMB.’

With a third tickled person simply adding: ‘That’s a no then.’

Tickets to TLC’s one-off show in London this summer at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on June 29 are still on sale. Get your tickets HERE 

Appearance, Interview, Lifestyle, Movies, News, Television

T-Boz On Her Love For Her Son, Family Health Shock, Movie Plans & The Joys Of TLCBD

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Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins was a special guest on Fox Soul’s ‘On The 7 with Dr. Sean‘ on November 19 to promote the launch of her new health care range, ‘TLCBD‘.

T-Boz truly opened up to Dr. Sean in one of the most open, laid-back and honest interviews she has done in a while. During the interview T-Boz hits out at critics who constantly highlight the fact she adopted her son, Chance.

She also reveals that her mother Gayle Watkins is currently battling Cancer and her daughter Chase Rolison was recently diagnosed with Lupus. This remarkable woman is the epitome of a Champion!

Where the ‘CrazySexyCool’ title came from

Left Eye actually came up with this. It’s funny, because they would always call her crazy, I would be cool, and Chilli is supposed to be sexy. But Chilli always thought she was cool! And Lisa was like, ‘well T-Boz always be crazy!’. So, it’s kinda like the modern version of I’m Every Woman. So everybody has a crazy, sexy and a cool side. So, we just put the names to who dominated that name. So that became the album cover. I’m Every Woman, we all have those sides to us.

Left Eye’s memory

She’s my sister, so it’s just like losing a family member, but they’re always with you. Because even when I work, we’re still TLC. We built this together. Even if she’s not here physically, we keep her spirit alive through every show and everything that we do.

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

I’m supposed to be excited, because that’s like the Superbowl of Thanksgiving! But I have never worked on Thanksgiving. My family comes first. So me and Chilli saying yes to this was like pulling teeth, I’m telling you. I’m still dreading the hours, because if you think about it, because with my sickle and flying thins your blood, and usually I fly a day ahead of time to give my blood time to settle down and my blood. But I’m flying 6 hours there, in the cold, which is a no no, to be up and ready at 4am my time and 6 hours back. So, the things that we do for this industry to be standing in the cold waving at everybody, to sing only a minute and a half is as long as I’m gonna be on stage. But because it’s 50 million viewers, it’s still an honor. But it’s a lot. And I’m missing my family, so I don’t like that part.

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Family comes first

If you’re a family person like I am, those are the memories and the things that you can’t get back. And I’m not willing to sacrifice those things. I’m not sacrificing raising my child for this industry. If, God-willing, those things will come back again, or I can say I was blessed to do them. I will never work on my kid’s birthday’s and stuff like that. This year was the first time that they messed up on this last tour, they booked a tour on my child’s birthday and I was hot! So, you know me, ‘I’m cancelling, that’s it!’. But they made it worth my while, and they made it up to my son and they did this whole day, so I was like okay, as long as my little one says it’s okay. The whole crowd sang happy birthday to Chance, so he had two birthday parties. He was hot stuff on tour.

How AIDs rumors forced her to open up about her sickle cell

It really kinda happened by accident. Now we have social media, right? Back then, if a rumor got around it really had some staying power, period, because we didn’t have all the avenues that we have now to get the rumor out. So, they started saying that I had AIDs and when I would go to the hospital, instead of helping me people would be nosey, ‘does she have lesions’, just doing everything else but taking care of me. My thing was, I don’t care what I have, I’m sick, it just became a Circus,  put it that way, and I wasn’t getting the attention that was needed. One day, I got this call from Linda Anderson, and she worked for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America, and she was like, do you want to be the spokesperson, and I said no, because I used to hate talking in front of people. But I figured I had a bigger purpose, so I had to face my fears. What’s bigger? Helping to change lives with your story or you  being afraid to talk? It’s bigger than my fear. That’s really small on the Richter scale.

I kept wondering why did God allow me to do the things that other people that have the same thing — I made it, they didn’t. My cousin’s dead, I’m not. Like, why am I still here? I have to have a purpose. Because I would not talk about my disease, I would just deal with what I had to deal with and move forward and not look back. It’s with growth you start learning about yourself and why you’re here, you start questioning things. I was never a ‘why me?’ type of person. I’ve never been a woe is me kinda person. I don’t feel bad because I always feel that there is someone else worse off than me. At least I have good days, there are some that don’t have none at all.

Stressed by her mother and daughter’s recent health conditions 

I’ve been stressed out to no end lately. My mom says you can’t change how people act, but you can change how you react. My mom has cancer right now, and she just had surgery. My daughter just got diagnosed with Lupus and Sjogren’s and she was in the hospital. They thought she had a blood clot, like when it rains, it pours! And I’ve got a slumlord at the same time! And I’ve got to move while all this stuff happening. So that’ll make you angry. Especially with people being ignorant at times like that, when you’re dealing with life and death and here comes this idiot talking about nonsense or getting lawyers, like wait a minute, what? When the devil tries to mess with you boy, me. So I had to sit down and woo sah, and look at the bigger picture and what’s most important. Sometimes things get hard, but I’ve been through worse things than this. So just chuck it up and do what you gotta do. So one day I’ll be like, ‘arrgh!’, and then the second day and there on I fight back.

Misconceptions of being healthy with sickle cell because she’s got money

I hate when people say — it’s such a misconception, and I wish that people would educate themselves before they start talking. Social media has given a platform for all the crazy people to talk. They’ll say, ‘the reason that your healthy with sickle is because you got money’. What? Money can’t buy a cure right now, because there is none. Even if they got the best people in the world — there’s no cure. You can’t buy knowledge. You can’t buy someone to not be ignorant. Money can’t buy anything like that. I’m healthy now, because I work my behind off to get this way. I educated myself, I became my own advocate. I stood up for what I believe in. I don’t let doctors practice medicine on me anymore and almost kill me. I started learning, my body myself, if you wanna live, that’s the best thing to do because you’ll die up in the hospital these days. The medical field — don’t get me started. I will argue a doctor down in a minute. My doctor will be laughing because I’ll be like, ‘you can leave’. He’ll be like, ‘T, you kicked out four people!’. I’m like, ‘yeah, because they were pretending to know what they were talking about’. Let’s just keep it a buck — you don’t know! And I’m fine with that. But the God-like complex and the pride won’t let them say they don’t know. Shut up, get out my room.

Her son Chance is her dream come true

I always cry when I talk about this because I love my son more than anything. I said my whole life that I was going to have a son. And that boy is my son. I had a box of clothes — and this is how I meant it — and I saved all these clothes for when my son was going to wear  them. I’m telling you, this boy looks like us, he acts like me, this is my son. God gave me that boy. He is four years old. I know that’s my son, he was meant to be my son. And that’s why I hate people now, why I told it, because the press wouldn’t leave me alone. They just kept being nosey, like ‘well we didn’t see you pregnant, we know you gained some weight but we don’t know about your’ — it’s just too much. So I felt forced to have to say something, and I’m such a private person. I hate now on social media they’ll be like, ‘oh that’s her adopted son’. Do you say that’s her c-section daughter? Do you say that’s my vaginal canal son? No you don’t. That’s my damn son. I named him Chance because he gave me a second chance, too.

Future biopic plans on her own life journey 

We’re working on a movie about my life, now. I did a book (‘A Sick Life‘). I want this movie moreso to be about a girl with sickle cell, just to show all of the things that we go through and what I go through now. I just want it to be a good movie without it just being my story, but it being my story will be the cherry on top. Because it will be a triumph and a sucess story of how you can do this. Because I don’t care what kind of disease you have in life, you have something foreign inside your body that you don’t want to have. You don’t want to deal with it but you’re made to deal with it. People with Lupus, Cancer, HIV — whatever it is. So we all agree on one common chord — we don’t want this disease. So I want this to be about all of us, whoever is sick, whoever is going through anything. So they’ll be able to relate to it.

Appreciating fan support over the years

It feels like my work wasn’t in vain. Like all the times — when my grandmother was dying and you feel like crap and don’t want to get up there. I had just gotten out of the hospital. I remember the HBO special (FanMail Tour 2000), I was literally rolled in a wheelchair out of the hospital bed. They had me on a lot of Demerol, so when I got up on the stage I was like, ‘oh my God [woozy)’, but it’s like 30-40,000 people, and I had to pretend I wasn’t sick. So, those are the times that make me say I didn’t do all this for nothing. Those times that I pushed through, it really mattered.

Her CBD business, ‘TLCBD

What is CBD? It’s not weed, that is such a misconception. The one’s that I sell don’t have any THC in them. It comes from the cannabis plant, and anybody who hears that will think, ‘they’re over there smoking them tweeds’. It’s not like that. It’s about 48% of the plant extract that comes from it, and it’s the organic part of the plant. The THC is what makes you high, so it doesn’t contain THC. It helps with a lot of things. For people with anxiety, for pain, some mental issues — it’s a lot of things that it can help with.

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I never tell anybody anything that I haven’t tried on myself. I took this 2-3 years on  myself. My partner is a chemist, because a lot of brands that are out there are synthetic — it’s fake, if it has any CBD at all. Think about money and medicine, everybody wants to try the hottest thing, ‘everybody’s talking CBD, let’s do it’, but it’s not right. I was watching on the news station that did a special, out of 13 CBD lines only 3 were real. And out of those 3, only 2 had the amount of CBD that was said. Some didn’t have any CBD at all, some were totally unhealthy and would make you sick over a certain amount of time, and some just had lesser amounts than what was promised.

My brand is called TLCBD. Usually I hate stuff like that, but this one made sense. Tender loving CBD. A play on words, TL-CBD! I used to ruin every tour. They’d be like, ‘T-Boz is sick again, she done messed up the tour’. I remember Beyonce with Destiny’s Child saying, ‘T-Boz is sick, ya’ll’, everybody would say it and it was true. I would be weak, sick — the next thing you know the tour is over. Tours with Destiny’s Child, Christina Aguilera, Bobby Brown, MC Hammer were ruined — until I got on CBD.

CBD helps to build my immune system and it protects my spleen — I grew two baby spleens on my dead spleen, so the doctor didn’t remove it. I take CBD daily under my tongue 3 times a day, it’s like oil. We have different things, because some people don’t like putting drops [in their mouth]. We’ve got gummies, for people who like candy. We’ve got sour gummies, sugar-based gummies. For me, the sour gummies have a little aftertaste,  but it’s medicated so of course. I have to be careful as I want to eat the whole thing, then I remind myself this is medicine. When I did get sick, it wouldn’t be for as long, and it doesn’t hurt as bad. I use our pain balm and rub it on my knee, because I have a torn meniscus.  The sickle cell pain goes to the weakest part of my body. So I rub the balm on, and use the tincture under my tongue, and the next day I feel good.

Purchase your CBD goods at SHOPTLCBD.COM 

Watch the full interview: