Interview, Relationships

Dallas Austin: 2Pac Tells Left Eye ‘Controversy Sells’, Channeling Chilli Break-Up Through Pink Album, Death Row and TLC’s Deal with Pebbles

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TLC‘s long-term producer Dallas Austin sat down for an exclusive chat with hip-hop journalist DJ Vlad to talk everything in his eventful career, from creating some of his biggest records with TLC and Monica, to turning down opportunities to work with Boyz II Men again because they got too big for their boots!

During his in-depth interview, Dallas opens up about his past struggles growing up, before moving to Atlanta and getting his big break at 16 years old, producing a #2 hit for Doug E. Fresh and Joyce Irby called “Mr D.J.” in 1989, before working with the group Another Bad Creation, a boy band that consisted of members between 5 and 11 years old.

What most people might not know is that Dallas was the mastermind behind the success of the 1991 debut Boyz II Men album, ‘CooleyHighHarmony‘. The group personally asked Dallas to produce the album almost entirely by himself, which also helped to further put Dallas on the map as an established producer in the business.

The success of the album prompted them to request the musical genius once again for the follow-up album, 1994’s ‘II‘. However, Dallas had other plans after discovering how their success had changed their attitudes and egos, which he didn’t like. He agreed to producing only one song for the album, which was the smash, “Thank You“.

Dallas reveals that Boyz II Men also tried to discredit the talents of Babyface, who landed them one of their biggest singles to date, “I’ll Make Love To You“. “They just got to that point where they were smelling themselves so much”, Dallas says. “From that point, I was like, I can’t believe they turned into that, really. They became really disrespectful to people and not nice. I don’t tolerate it and it shows, because after that record they tried to get me to do the second one and I said no”.

After the Boyz II Men debut, Dallas was approached by LA Reid and Babyface to produce the debut album for TLC. “In the meeting, LA looks at me like, ‘what do you think they should be’? They’re definitely not En Vogue, so let’s make them the female BBD (Bell Biv Devoe). Let’s find the right things and the right topics to make them the guys of the girls”, Dallas states.

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Dallas Austin with TLC and Babyface in 1992

Dallas reveals how he managed to get their creative juices flowing, by simply having fun in the studio, playing games and having water fights! “We recorded every moment we were having. We captured all that fun on that album”, Dallas says. He also touched on how the multiple samples used on the first single, “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg“, almost hindered it’s success.

“The radio stations were saying it’s got so much noise in it. We can’t play this, it’s got noise all over the place. And then [Left Eye] said, ‘two inches or a yard, rock hard or if it’s saggin’, and they were like, we’re not playing this on the radio. So, we ended up having to go to do the video first, so they could see what the girl’s looked like. From that point, when they see Left Eye with the big glasses come on and everything, it took the group to another level — it took off instantly after that. But before that, it was a little more difficult to get them off because of the noise and the content”.

Dallas touched on how the playful image of TLC helped to soften some of the harder messages that they were trying to deliver, such as safe sex. “I was writing the lyrics to be more edgy than what the girls were”, Dallas admits. “We knew that they were going to have a cartoony vibe when they first came out, but the radio looked at the lyrics as being too risque. So that’s why we ended up putting the condom on her eye. We’re talking about safe sex, even though she ain’t too proud to beg for sex, she’s being safe about it. There was a big [AIDs] epidemic at the time. That kinda encouraged the condoms and hanging them off everything.”

One of the biggest standout moments during the highs and the lows of the history of TLC is the infamous management deal the girls had signed with Pebbles, the wife of LA Reid at the time. “Your first album deal is pretty much like, the label is the bank, there’s no guaranteed way for them to get their money back, so they string you up in any way possible to get their money back because there’s no sure fire success rate”, Dallas says.

“At that time, to shoot one video, even a low scale video would cost $150,000. The “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg” video cost $175,000. By the time you do the shoot, go to radio — the girls also don’t know about the business set up at this point. As the group started to take off they didn’t understand that it takes more money to be successful now. When you do another video, they’re going to get better and better — the balance is through the roof. According to the deal at that time, what you’re supposed to get wasn’t enough, considering the success. The deal was based on no success. Between that, and then signing to Pebbles, and then LA, and then Pebbles management — it just became mess”.

Dallas opens up about his relationship with Chilli, which started during the first album, revealing that Chilli miscarried due to the stress brought on by Pebbles. T-Boz and Left Eye knew about it but they agreed to hide it from Pebbles, as she had a thing about girls being groupies in the industry and told the girls not to date their producers. Pebbles decided to kick Chilli out of the group once she learnt about her first pregnancy and began holding auditions for a new member to replace Chilli’s role in TLC.

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Dallas Austin and Chilli with son Tron

“I had to go to Pebbles and be like, we’re not just messing around, this is my girlfriend, it’s been going on for a year you just didn’t know it”, Dallas states. He was also against the replacement of Chilli and told Pebbles that it would not work. “We already started working, it just didn’t work out. The synergy of the group didn’t work out, the girls didn’t want another person in the group, so she kinda forced her way back in because it didn’t make any sense”.

Pebbles gave in and let Chilli stay in the group, as the girls had already cemented their line-up via their ongoing success, and on top of the relationship, the business handling came into question, after the lack of royalties for their second and best-selling album, ‘CrazySexyCool‘. “When they started to find out what they should be getting — they didn’t really find out what they should be getting, it was more like ignorance is bliss. ‘Mary J. Blige got $5 million we want $5 million’, there was no logic behind it, it was just hearsay, but they stuck to it”.

When LA heard these numbers being demanded by the girls, he said it didn’t make sense or fit in the business. They were still demanding their money, so he told them to go and ask Clive Davis, the head of Arista Records, and the parent company to LaFace Records. “The girls got 3 or 4 gangster girls from Techwood in the projects here, and they drove all the way to New York, and went all the way to Clive’s office during his meeting with Puff [Daddy] and hung up his phone, and this big ghetto girl said, ‘TLC got something to say!’ They shut the door and told Clive and LA they need to talk on the phone together, personally, so there was no BS going on”, Dallas recalls.

“That noise was the only way that they got the deal fixed, because the logical way wasn’t working. Acting the way they did worked for them, and getting on award shows reading from rolls of toilet paper thanking everybody. It embarrassed LA and them so much that they figured, okay, let’s try to work and figure this out. By the time we got to “CrazySexyCool” it panned out, obviously. But inbetween that time it was a mess”.

Dallas dives into the life and turbulent times of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, noting that the common perception of her arson incident with Andre Rison didn’t actually propel them into the limelight positively. “It took them to a whole different place, and it hurt them at the same time. They were just coming off all the bankruptcy stuff and getting into the studio”, Dallas reminisces. “She had this thing that 2pac told her a long time ago that if they’re not talking bad about you, they’re not saying nothing about you. So, she would just kinda act out even more, based off of that, even though I think that she didn’t mean to burn the house down, she had that streak in her at the time.

It ended up where they lost endorsements. TLC has never had anything — the things that they should have done as a big group they never did because of stuff like that. No CoverGirl endorsements, no Pepsi, you never see them on make up, they never even did a world tour until now. The records and the image of the group ended up being way bigger because of all that. They’d be sitting in New York, and Lisa would get into this thing where she would go back and forth to MTV, telling them that she quit, right after they finished another interview saying they were all together. At one point it seemed really dark, because she was on a misison to be her, and stand out in any way possible, and that way wasn’t really good all the time”.

T-Boz is very loyal to the people she chooses to work with, and that included Dallas Austin, whom she was close to and knew years before he worked for TLC, as they used to skate in the same spots in Atlanta. “It was hard to get T-Boz to go to the studio with anyone besides me and Jermaine [Dupri]. So, I just had the keys to it, I knew where to go next, I knew what would make us different. I knew that when we got to “Fanmail“, it was time for another change. I knew that I was gonna do an ‘Unpretty‘ type of song just from listening to music by Ani Difranco and Alanis Morrissette, it was time to take them somewhere else. But I always had the vision of what we should do next.”

One of his favorite tracks that he ever worked on for TLC was their 1994 #1 single, ‘Creep‘, because it was based on a true story — his own. “It was about this girlfriend I had at the time. I knew I wasn’t being faithful and I wasn’t around at the house. I found her cheating on me! She was like, ‘what do you expect me to do? You haven’t been there for me. I’ve been loyal to you and I just needed some attention, and you haven’t been giving it to me’. I was like, you’re right. I’m just gonna have to take one for the team — and write a song about it”.

The whole world was shocked to learn that Chilli was with a child, when she gave birth to her son, Tron Austin, in 1997 whilst TLC were on hiatus, in between albums. It was more of a shock because she never looked pregnant, so it was easily kept a secret. “Nobody knew that she was pregnant until she was 9 months. She would just wear big, oversized sweatshirts because she was so little.

It wasn’t until my mom saw her one day, spitting into a cup. My mom said, ‘ did you just spit into a cup? You’re pregnant’. What does that mean? I’ve never heard of that before. By the time my mom and them figured it out, she was 9 months gone. It kinda just came, nobody really had the chance to be — she was so afraid of what Pebbles and the girls would think that she just kept it to herself. So we just hid it for the longest”.

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Chilli pregnant with Tron in 1997

Despite it being true that TLC have never broken up, Left Eye was on a mission to express herself freely and creatively on a music project, after LA Reid silenced her debut solo effort, “Supernova“, from receiving a full release in the United States in 2001. The legal wranglings with Arista Records over not paying her what she was owed, effectively allowed her to be free to sign with another label and putting TLC’s 4th LP on hold. She chose to be affiliated with Suge Knight‘s rebirth of Death Row, renowned as Tha Row. “She would do anything to ruffle the feathers”, Dallas admits.

Dallas goes on to confess that he was involved in stirring some of the drama during the successful ‘Fanmail Tour‘. Left Eye had told the girls she wasn’t happy and that she wouldn’t be joining them that night on the tour, which upset them. Dallas went on to write a note to Left Eye, posing as T-Boz and Chilli, to tell her they didn’t need her and they quit. Left Eye frantically told them she wasn’t quitting and admits she was just saying it for effect. After the tour, she later came back to tell them of her solo wishes, which they respected, until she revealed she was working with Suge.

Throwing Suge Knight into the mix surely turned things upside down for everybody. Left Eye was using a new moniker under his label, N.I.N.A (New Identity Non Applicable). “You couldn’t do anything with her at that point”, Dallas recalls. “Her mind just started going way somewhere else, and then she just started being more and more trouble. She felt like that is where she needed to be at to support her troubles, to support her acting out the way that she wanted to. She had Suge telling her, ‘yeah you can do this and that, you don’t need them’. LA Reid was scared to talk with and deal with him, in a sense, like ‘why are you trying to break up my group?’, so we just had to let it do what it did and let her get away with it. So that was another mess. Left Eye’s manager being Suge trying to talk to the TLC’s managers, it was a nightmare”.

Dallas felt like Lisa was spiritually uneasy, and feels that her adapting a strict vegan lifestyle and her many trips to Honduras to meet with Dr. Sebi may have contributed to her changes. “Sometimes when you go vegan like that, especially back then, your mind can start going a little bit because you’re not getting what you need or something. She started going a little bit weird, then she was going back and forth to the Doctor. Something dark is going on but we just can’t figure it out, with her going to Suge and then back and forth over there and the vegan — she was just on her own planet”.

Dallas reminisces the time they were working on “Creep”, and LA Reid being upset with Left Eye because she refused to lay down a rap for the single. “She didn’t want Andre to think that’s what she was doing. She’d go outside and write a rap in her car for hours and come back with nothing. Finally she said, ‘I’m not doing it, I’m not writing a rap that says I’m cheating’. I said forget it, this is gonna make it new. Let T-Boz just sing it, and it’ll be fresh from where we came from”. Left Eye eventually wrote a rap for the remix, with a message that strongly opposed cheating.

Dallas feels that there is a void in TLC without the presence of Left Eye, but understands their decision to never replace her. “Even after her passing, they didn’t wanna put anyone else in the group, they didn’t want anyone to do her parts, it’s like kinda weird. Like, I see the two of you on stage, just throw Lil’ Mama in for a second, and they were like no, we’re not adding anybody to the group, and that’s it. You can feel the void now when they do their shows, the songs are so big and a lot of people never got the chance to see them perform, so it’s like new and exciting. You go to a TLC show and you’ll see people in Cross Colours, and it’s like everybody who didn’t get to do it before then they can do it now”.

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TLC on The Main Event tour in 2015

Dallas continued working on his projects over the years, including co-producing “The Boy Is Mine“, for Brandy & Monica, the latter being the first singer he signed to his Rowdy Records label, while she was a mere 13 years old. Dallas recalls the two not getting along, and Monica hitting Brandy in the face backstage before their first and only performance of the song in the 90’s at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Dallas also worked his magic with Pink, the mega superstar who began her journey signing with LaFace in 2000. LA Reid insisted she have an R&B debut, “Can’t Take Me Home“, however she hated it and Dallas also knew that was the wrong direction for her. He worked with her on her follow-up album, “Missundaztood“, which LA didn’t understand as it had a pop rock edge, but it was a major hit. Dallas admits that the songs he produced for the project were actually songs he wrote relating to his break-up with Chilli.

“That album was a trip, because really it was a break-up record — me and Chilli had broken up”, Dallas admits. “So all these songs that I was writing, I was writing myself out of the relationship. Me and Pink just clicked and it was the right moment and right artist to do them with at the time. I love ‘Don’t Let Me Get Me‘, that was a breakout album for her to just be Pink, not being held by the label or the scrutiny of what LA wanted her to be”.

Not many producers can boast such an iconic roster of work like Dallas Austin. He has worked with legendary artists ranging from Madonna and TLC to the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson. Dallas worked on the ‘HIStory album in 1995, including the controversial singles “Stranger In Moscow” (written while he was being hidden in Russia by the government) and “They Don’t Care About Us“, which sparked racial controversies related to the Jewish community, amid allegations of antisemitism.

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Appearance, Lifestyle, Relationships, Television

‘Girls Cruise’ Episode 6: Trinidad Traditions, Loneliness and Proposals

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The ladies finally step foot down in Trinidad and love is in the air, as one of the crew members has a crush on Lil’ Kim. Meanwhile on episode 6, while competing for the number one spot, Tiffany decides to plot out a huge surprise for Kim that’s sure to raise a few eyebrows!

Following the last episode when the group broke barriers and bonded even closer in Tobago’s Nylon Pool, they are determined to step further in to their true selves, and live it up in Trinidad on the first day of carnival!

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Tiffany takes a call from her fiancè Adam and discuss a surprise they have in store for Kim. Tiffany states that she has been brainstorming the best way to ask Kim to be a big part of her wedding.

Pretty Vee works on a video blog discussing her past, recovering from the bullying she experienced in high school. Vena wants to open up about her struggles with depression and anxiety, in the hopes that it can help somebody else cope in the future.

Upon their arrival in Trinidad, and with 12 hours to go before the carnival begins, Rome, who is acting as their tour guide in his home town, decides that the girls must take part in the traditional limbo!

Rome introduces the crew to try some local street food. “We’re gonna have Doubles”, Rome tells the girls. Explaining what they were eating, he says “This is actually an Indian recipe that was brought here. They would fry flour and then add chick peas with curry and then probably add some vegetables.” It’s the number one street food in Trinidad and Tobago.

Rome announces that the group will need to be ready at 3am in the morning to take part in some traditional pre-carnival activities. Chilli smells something sweet in the air and heads over to get some natural sweets with the group. “Seeing Rome in his element is amazing”, Chilli says. “He’s like the president here in Trinidad”.

After trying some coconut jelly, Tobias casually escorts Kim away from the group to show her some jewellery and have some time alone with her, looking at the local shops. Kim stops for some of the locals to take photos with them. Kim admits that despite the fame, she often goes home feeling lonely as she doesn’t know who she can trust, so she’s grateful for this trip with her friends.

Tiffany confides in Char about the way she wants to propose Kim the offer of being her maid of honor for her wedding. “Instead of maid of honor or bridesmaid, I wanna ask her to be the Queen of honor, that is her nickname, but it will be so much fun”, Tiffany states. “I think it will be memorable to do it on this trip. I just need your help to plan it with me”.

Kim knocks on Chilli’s door, 8 hours before carnival, for some girl talk. Chilli let’s Kim know that she can see that Tobias the chef has a crush on her. Despite him being physically attractive, Kim makes it known she isn’t interested in him in that way. “Gotta have the whole package”, Kim insists.

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Chilli then speaks about Rome’s attempts to hit on her, along with a convincing Caribbean accent. “I really like him as a friend. He’s so cool and he’s cute, but I would totally never date him”, Chilli confesses. “He would drive me crazy! Because it’s like I say I don’t drink. [Mimics Rome] ‘Come on Chilli! One drink! One drink! Get you out of your comfort zone!’ I don’t drink, why would I have one drink with you?”

Chilli touches on why she is comfortable with being alone. “There are a lot of people that are so afraid of being alone, that they have got to have somebody there. But I feel like having the wrong person there is the worst type of loneliness”, Chilli admits. “With me being alone by choice, I feel like this is a very healthy place — and I love my healthy! But I love when people are true to their feelings”.

Pretty Vee states that she was inspired to be open after hanging out with Mya, who opened up to her about her own insecurities. Mya states that she understands Vena’s comedy comes from a place of pain, and that she is happy her friend is starting to open up more. “If you live your life trying to please everybody else, you’ll drive yourself crazy”, Mya advises.

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Mya is starting to question if she is a workaholic and whether she should start to give relationships a chance, after admitting she last had a date 8 years ago. ” I had to think for a minute. What do I want?”, Mya ponders. “I’m so protective of keeping my peace, I haven’t let anybody in yet. When you love yourself so much and fill yourself with the proper kind of love so you don’t search for it in somebody else”.

Chef Tobias surprises Kim in her room with a specially prepared hazelnut meringue and a little catch up. Kim is impressed that he addressed her by her middle name, Denise. “I would say Lil’ Kim is a little bit more reserved than Kimberley Denise Jones. But if you party with me you’re gonna get all sides — and if you piss me off you’ll get Kimmy Blanco!”.

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B. Simone and Pretty Vee talk during a meal together, as they get the message from Char about Tiffany’s plan to ask Kim to be her Queen of honor. Chilli later helps to get the ceremony prepared, laying out candles with the help of Rome, who admits he never used to be very romantic.

Chilli tells Rome about her concerns about the revealing traditional outfits she may be expected to wear at the carnival. “I’m a little nervous to see the outfit because those outfits are just skimpy! They look good. Beautiful, actually. But I can’t have my little booty out”, she says. Rome questions if she never wore risque outfits over the years onstage.

“You’ve never seen TLC in concert, clearly!”, Chilli replies. “We don’t dress like that. We’re very covered from the waist down. We show a little something at the top but that’s about it. That’s just our style. We’re like prissy tomboys”.

Rome reassures her that she will have nothing to worry about, as they will ensure she has something to cover up if she doesn’t want to show too much. “They say carnival kinda makes people act devilish — a HOT ratchet mess! I don’t do those things”, Chilli adds. “But we’ll see!”.

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Kim receives a special message delivered by Jamie to her bedroom. “Dear Kim, thank you for all that you do. Meet me at the top of the bell at the boat”, the message reads. Kim heads up and is greeted by Tiffany on her knees to propose to Kim. Kim excitedly accepts her Queen of honor proposal and they hug each other. The team then get together to celebrate.

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Don’t miss day one of the carnival when the girls really get turnt up! The next instalment of ‘Girls Cruise’ will air on September 2 on VH1 at 9/8c.

Episode 6

Appearance, Lifestyle, Review, Television

‘Girls Cruise’ Episode 5 – Chilli’s Vital TLC Bond with T-Boz and Finding Talent On The Cruise

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In the 5th instalment of ‘Girls Cruise’, the ladies are sailing across to the island of Tobago! However, to avoid the cabin fever, they need something fun to do while they are still at sea, so Lil’ Kim suggests they carry out Pretty Vee‘s idea of a talent show!

Chilli and B. Simone have a heart to heart in her bedroom. B. Simone reveals how grateful she is to have Chilli looking out for her. “Mama Chilli might not turn up with the drinks, and the partying, but she does turn up when she has to look out for somebody”, she admits.

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Chilli tells B. Simone that she loves her chemistry with Pretty Vee. B. Simone tells Chilli how much they get each other, both coming from social media, and there’s no jealousy, they support each other. “We were both nominated for a BET Social Award — I won it!”, B. Simone jests. She says she has a healthy competition with Pretty Vee.

Chilli touches on the balance within her own group TLC. “You know, in my group, everybody has their favorite TLC member for whatever reason. But, we never let that get into our head”, Chilli says. “Because I truly love her, and she truly loves me, and we want each other to win 100 percent. There is no competition as far as a jealous hearted kind.”

Chilli explains that the loss of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes in 2002 brought her closer to T-Boz, her TLC sister. “Tionne and I, we have always been close. But we got closer, closer — especially after we lost our sister”. Chilli encourages B. Simone and Pretty  Vee to check in on each other to keep a strong, healthy friendship.

“Being in this business, as a woman — there’s always going to be some crap attached to that. The last place you need negativity is in your personal circle”, Chilli says.

Pretty Vee announces a Girls Cruise talent show to the crew. She pairs Mya with Tiffany, B. Simone with Char and herself with Lil’ Kim, with Chilli as the talent show judge. They spend the next couple of hours preparing their roles for the show.

Pretty Vee creates two comedy characters that will perform with Lil’ Kim — Hispanic Maria Sanchez the Jamaican gal Sharon. Mya and Tiffany went hard in rehearsals to stage a fashion dance off. B. Simone and Char were set to do a musical performance together.

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Tiffany and Mya were first in line, and surprised the crew with some fierce strutting and voguing, complete with two stunning swimsuits to steal the show.

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B. Simone and Char were next up with a freestyle, which didn’t go to plan as Char forgot his lines. B. Simone got frustrated with Char and stated that they didn’t have enough time to rehearse.

Chilli gives B. Simone some constructive criticism after she got frustrated with Char forgetting his lines. “When you are paired up like that, you guys are a team”, she tells the duo. “If someone messes up, you still go with the flow. You can’t show poor sportsmanship.”

Chilli is on fine form as the judge and demands the performers to get in line — no intermissions! Lil’ Kim and Pretty Vee throw down a comical rendition of Lil’ Kim’s smash, “Lighters Up“, with Kim on the drums.

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B. Simone and Char are given the opportunity to re-do their performance, as Char was nervous and Chilli insisted B. Simone should be more supportive towards her partner. He smashed out a beatbox and freestyle with B. Simone.

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Chilli makes the final winning decision and crowns Tiffany and Mya as the winners of the talent contest. “All glory to God, and Tiffany for doing the overtime in rehearsal”, Mya says. “Thank you to Mya for teaching me how to vogue”, Tiffany adds.

There’s only one way to end a talent show — a performance by the judge herself! “What she going to do, ‘Creep‘?”, Pretty Vee questions. “Not going to do ‘Creep’!”, Chilli replies, before instructing the musical director Rome to line up her track — “No Scrubs“! Chilli does a rendition of her TLC smash and parties with the rest of the crew.

The following morning, the crew arrive at their next destination — Tobago. They plan on bonding some more hanging out at Tobago’s ‘foundation  of youth‘ in the Nylon Pool. Mya gives Lil’ Kim a visit in her room for a chat.

Mya talks to Lil’ Kim about enjoying her performance with Tiffany for the talent show. “We just started rehearsing in my room”, Mya says. “It’s been a minute since I played around with my friends! I grew up around boys all the time”. Lil’ Kim relates as she was the only girl in her circle including Junior M.A.F.I.A.

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Mya reveals that this trip with the ladies is something she has needed for a long time. “It’s been a long, independent journey, but now I’m hanging out and spending good quality time with my own girlfriends. This is what I need in my life”.

B. Simone and Char take a moment together to reflect on their feelings towards Chilli. “I love her so much! If I could put the perfect mom in a box I’d put Chilli in a box!”, B. Simone exclaims. “She is a perfect, nurturing person. I didn’t grow up with my biological mom, I think that’s why I’m so attached to her.”

Rome announces to the crew that they have finally arrived at the Nylon Pool. Lil’ Kim tells the group that she wishes everyone would take this moment to truly open up to each other and release anything in their hearts using the circle of trust that they have all built together.

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Tiffany tells the group that she grew up in a poor neighborhood which affected her confidence as a child. Being around the girls has helped her realize that she belongs there with everyone and not to make herself smaller.

Chilli reveals that this trip is helping her work on being okay with not being in control with everything in her life. “I like being in control of my situation. I’m not a controlling person to others, but just for me and it’s stressful”, Chilli tells the circle. “Because of this trip I’ve grown a bit. I see that there’s always something to learn about yourself, something to improve all the time while you’re alive and well. So, just keep living!”.

Pretty Vee opens up about being bullied when she was a child. “It feels so scary to open up. Seeing everybody let loose and be emotional allowed me to do the same”, Vena says.

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“This right here is a reminder that you need to stay connected to people that you love”, Mya confesses. “There’s something about the environment that allowed me to let go. It was a reminder to stop for a second and enjoy balance and the beauty. Because this right here is life and don’t take it for granted.”

B. Simone reveals that she is taking the steps to find herself and gets emotional thinking about the absence of her mom. “Chilli you’ve really.. I did not have a mom growing up. When I call her Mama Chilli, I was like, do you care if I call you that? Because I really feel like that she is my mom! The bond I have with her is ridiculous”.

“This moment is a big deal”, Chilli admits. “This is not just for this trip, this is for life. We’re gonna be in each other’s lives for life.” B. Simone feels like God put each and every person on the trip for a good reason. “We’re all growing, I see it in all of us”.

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Tobago’s ‘fountain of youth’, the Nylon Pool

Lil’ Kim closes the reflections by revealing how she often feels lonely and under pressure to be the celebrity she is known for that she puts up a wall to always be in character. “I wear my emotions on my sleeves. When people don’t check in on me I feel like they don’t care”. The girls reassure her that she is not by herself.

The girls and Char have a group hug in the middle of the Nylon Pool and vow to cherish the bond they have formed and to remember where it all started.

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Don’t miss the next episode of ‘Girls Cruise’. Catch it every Monday night at 9/8c on VH1!

Episode 5

Appearance, Lifestyle, Review, Television

‘Girls Cruise’ Episode 4 – Mama Chilli To The Rescue On Her Birthday

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Every TLC fan out there knows that Miss Chilli Thomas does not like to celebrate her birthday. But being on the ultimate Girls Cruise on your birthday week isn’t the easiest way to avoid celebrating!

In the 4th episode of this wild and adventurous Caribbean cruise, the ladies continue their soul searching, bonding and pushing themselves to step out of their comfort zones!

“Chilli is queen of the day!”, Rome announces excitedly on the loud speakers to the rest of the crew on the yacht. Chilli takes a call from her son, Tron Austin, who reminds her that this is the first time she has been out of town on her birthday. But he reassures her that they can celebrate together when she returns home.

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Meanwhile, B. Simone gets to know Rakeem aka ‘Dreads’ a little better at the bar with some specially made cocktails from the barman. B. Simone eventually admits to him that she doesn’t know his real name!

Chilli knocks on Mya‘s door for a little girl talk in her bedroom. Chilli opens up to Mya about the reasons why she is so against celebrating her birthday. “I just don’t like the numbers! That’s all it is”, Chilli says.

“Let me take it all the way back”, Chilli adds. “I remember my early 20s, you’re so excited, you think you’re so grown. And then I remember when I hit 25, at that point it was just a countdown for me. I was like, ‘in 5 years I’ll be 30’. So the trip started then. And then when I hit 30, I was like, I’m done. I was like, I’m done with these numbers. I’m not celebrating anymore”.

Mya let’s Chilli know that she understands, although she believes in celebrating her age every year. “I believe in celebrating birthdays”, Mya tells the viewers. “I believe in celebrating life, no matter how old you get. Look, if I get older, and I’m celebrating my birthday, I’m celebrating the Chilli way, because I’m trying to look like that — forever!”

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Chilli reveals details of her special lunch date with Rome to Mya, telling her that he’s a sweet guy but she gave him a friendly push back, as she wasn’t on the trip to look for a date. “I haven’t known Rome long enough to know if he’s even Chilli’s type”, Mya confesses. “It’s not gonna fly if he’s not some black Jesus or something like that!”.

Mya later joins Tiffany on the deck for a catch up. It was the first time the two had some time alone together since the drama of Mya forgetting Tiffany’s name at the concert in Oistins. Mya questions Tiffany about her friendship with Lil’ Kim, and if she felt like she ever has to shrink her presence to let Kim shine.

“I have never had that thought in my head. I have never felt like that”, Tiffany insists, surprised to hear Mya’s views on her. “I’m a little taken back, because people in society pit women against each other. It’s almost like you can’t have a successful friend and have success yourself”, Tiffany says. “Kim and I have based our friendship on support, so I hope that this can be an example of what sisterhood is to Mya”.

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Mya seems unsure about Tiffany’s statement. “But, has she ever been around your circle?”, Mya asks. “Yeah. It’s like, I shine on my own, and I want my sister to shine on her own”, Tiffany replies. “Get your dreams! I call her mini Cleopatra. Break barriers! But sometimes people like to project, because I guess naturally in this business you have to be guarded — be prepared.”

The crew later get ready for Chilli’s birthday dinner. Chilli reveals to everybody that she is thankful for their friendship on the trip, as it has learned her to open up more and be relaxed around situations outside of her comfort zone.

Lil’ Kim then encourages everybody to open up about their insecurities. Mya admits that she has always missed having somebody to call and talk to. “It’s very important for us as women to stick together, because we need each other”, Mya says. “It’s so important that we uplift each other. It’s hard out here, to get through life alone. And we need that support system to uplift each other”.

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Pretty Vee reveals that she has been battling with depression, whilst Char admits that he battles with finding real friends after feeling used. Lil’ Kim talks about being controlled by her ex, the late Notorious B.I.G., and being lost when he passed away in 1997, as she had no direction without him. “I had to go to prison for a year — I grew, I matured, and I said, ‘God, I’m so sorry! I didn’t know I wasn’t listening like this!”.

Due to the stormy weather, Rome announces that the crew will be unable to leave the yacht tonight. So, they decide to get comfortable and spend the remainder of Chilli’s birthday chilling on the boat. However, in an instant, the rocky waters began making everybody feel sea sick!

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“It was like a domino effect — Vee, B, Mya”, Chilli says of the sickness taking over the crew. “We went from a birthday party to Mya and Vee passing out, Romey Rome can’t even stand up!”. Chilli offered her full support to everybody, nursing them with vital salts and some TLC!

“I had a good time celebrating my birthday, but now people are getting sick, and they need me”, Chilli says. “So, of course, I jump right back into Mama Chilli mode!”. “Kim wanted us to bond? This is the real deal!”, Tiffany exclaims.

The following day, the seas are calmer and the crew are recovered from their rough night of sickness. Chilli shares the moment with Tron on the phone. “When I tell you, the boat was like rocking and everybody got sea sick, except for me, Kim and Charles”.

B. Simone, who suffered the most vomiting that night, talks about her experience with Pretty Vee. “It hit me so quick after dinner. It was like eating and then getting on a rollercoaster. After I threw up three times, Chilli kept feeding me salt, bro”. B. Simone admitted that Chilli’s presence gave her some comfort, but she was still feeling queasy.

Lil’ Kim and Pretty Vee later have some time together in the gym and discuss how much they appreciate each other and being open to learning more about themselves through each other.

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B. Simone is greeted by Rakeem, who is checking on her to make sure she is feeling better. Rakeem takes on board her suggestions of wanting someone assertive, and invites her to join him on the jet skis, which she reluctantly agrees to.

After freaking out over the wild skiing with Rakeem, alledging that she can see sharks, B. Simone is saved by the Queen Bee! Lil’ Kim jumps on a jet ski and drives down to catch up with B. Simone. “Here comes captain slay-a-ho, and I’ve come to save a ho!”, Kim jests.

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Chilli then jumps into another jet ski with Pretty Vee and Mya at the wheel, as they head over to Kim and B. Simone, once again enjoying time outside of their comfort zones!

The ladies are now on track for their next destination — the tranquil scenes of Tobago for the world famous carnival season!

Don’t miss the next episode of ‘Girls Cruise’. Catch it every Monday night at 7/8c on VH1!

Episode 4