TLC is not only the biggest-selling female group in the United States, but their tour stats go unmatched, too. 2000’s ‘Fanmail Tour‘ remains as the highest-grossing tour by a girl group in history, ever.
Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas are ensuring they remain as one of the world’s greatest live acts. Ever since returning to the concert circuit in 2013 after a lengthy hiatus, they have been touring consistently, doing a mixture of spot dates and major tours, both nationally and overseas.
Their current major tour, sponsored by Live Nation, is their fourth tour in five years, and see’s them on the road with rappers Flo Rida and co-headliner, Nelly. The tour kicked off on July 23 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Their home town Atlanta was the second spot on the summer amphitheater tour on July 24.
TLC’s return to Atlanta was long overdue. The girls last performed in the city at the tail-end of 2017, to celebrate the New Year at the city’s annual Peach Drop celebration at Woodruff Park .
T-Boz and Chilli had promised fans that this tour would be something fresh and exciting to experience, and they kept their word. Everything has been updated and refreshed, from the choreography and stage production, to updated mixes of their hits and additions to the set list with some fan favorites. Proving that they are listening to the feedback from the fans.
Flo Rida opened the night in true Flo Rida style, cranking through his 50-minute set, performing his ever popular hits, “Whistle”, “Right Round”, “Club Can’t Handle Me”, “Wild One“, new track, “Snack“, and his debut hit, “Low“.
Nelly, who alternates the closing spot with TLC on different nights, took the second spot at the Atlanta gig at Cellairis Amphitheater at Lakewood. Nelly blazed through his energetic 75-minute with his classics, “E.I”, “Country Grammar”, “Ride Wit Me”, “Hot In Herre”, “Just A Dream” and “Dilemma“.
Nelly has a few surprise guests during his set, in the form of some of Atlanta’s greatest rappers of his era. Jermaine Dupri joined Nelly to perform his 2005 smash, “Grillz“. Big Boi also came out to perform “Kryptonite” with him. T.I. even made an appearance, performing his own smashes, “Whatever You Like” and “What You Know“. Nelly’s cousin, J-Kwon, performed his infectious single, “Tipsy“.
TLC, the night’s main attraction, graced the stage at 9:45PM, delivering a solid 75-minute set of nostalgia and some recent bops from their latest release. T-Boz and Chilli, along with Left Eye‘s presence in her original vocal playbacks, kept the majority of the audience on their feet.
The show opened with the classic, “What About Your Friends?“, which featured a new, energetic dance break in the middle. “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg” followed shortly after, before taking things down a notch with the smooth, “Diggin’ On You“.
Things got straight back up with the club anthem, “Silly Ho“, and the “Baby-Baby-Baby” remix. After a moment of thanking fans for their loyalty and support, they launch into “FanMail” and “Joy Ride“, both tracks solely dedicated to the fans.
For the first time in their live shows they sing the hook from “Crooked Smile“, their 2013 collaboration with J. Cole. They have only ever performed the song once before at the iHeart Music Awards that same year. T-Boz gave a few words about her struggles as a young girl before launching into “Unpretty”.
The ladies take a short break, allowing their four talented dancers to do their thing and show the best of their talents.
The medley came next, consisting of a mix of classics and rarely performed tracks that the fans adore, giving each album some appreciation. Starting with “Hat 2 Da Back“, followed by the amazing “Kick Your Game” and “Come Get Some“, concluding with the superb hook to “Girl Talk” from the 3D album.
The girls kept the momentum flowing with performances of the seductive “Red Light Special“, the uplifting “It’s Sunny“, the summery vibes of “Way Back“, and then T-Boz and Chilli talk about a deadbeat guy who is hanging on the passengers side of a car next to them at the traffic lights, before launching into the worldwide anthem, “No Scrubs“.
As they get halfway through their mega smash, “Waterfalls“, the ladies stop and ask the audience to honor their sister, Left Eye, and put the lights on their phone’s up in the air (dubbed as ‘Lights For Left Eye’), as they played her rap in full and danced the classic choreography while her video played out to the crowd.
A great start to a phenomenal joint tour with 3 top acts, sharing 12 #1 singles amongst them. Stay tuned for more surprises that may pop-up along the way! The tour concludes on August 31 in Irvine, CA.
Chilli took a moment to talk to Melissa Ruggieri for AJC just days ahead of TLC’s second date in Atlanta, on their fourth national tour in 5 years, this time with the boys — Nelly and Flo Rida!
T-Boz and Chilli perform a fresh mix of their hits on July 24 at the Cellairis Amphitheatre in Atlanta. Find out what to expect on the latest tour, as well as celebrating album anniversaries, celibacy and more!
Q: You did the “I Love the ‘90s: The Party Continues” tour a couple of summers ago and now you’re heading out with Nelly and Flo Rida. Do you like these group tours and getting to hang out with other artists?
A: Because I’m an artist, I love it. When (TLC) first got started, we always did fun things together – with Boyz II Men, Destiny’s Child, Christina Aguilera. It makes for a fun tour. People get to see everybody that they love and it makes it more exciting. We’ve done a few tours with Nelly before, he was on (2015’s) “The Main Event” tour with us, and we did some shows together in Australia. But this is our first time working with Flo. He is the sweetest guy. He is so polite, always on time, his people respond so fast to email. He’s so professional, which is the way it should be, but it’s usually not that way. He’s very humble. I love people like that.
Q: Since the tour is just starting, do you know if there will be any interaction among the three acts during the show?
A: We thought about that and had some cool ideas before the tour started, but we couldn’t get anybody on board. We are creative and think outside of the box and everybody doesn’t always think like that, and that’s OK. We really did want to do something very different. It would have started a new trend. Maybe we’ll wind up doing it on another tour with someone else. But it’s all good. All of us are very blessed to have these great songs that people love and it means different things to them.
Q: Where does TLC land in the performance lineup?
A: We’re co-headlining with Nelly, so we’ll take turns with closing. I really love the second spot (in a show) because everybody is in their seats and they’re energized. As it gets later and later you get tired and it’s hot. You’re still enjoying the concert, but it’s a lot different than an hour earlier.
Q: Atlanta is only the second date of the tour, so it will hardly feel as if you’ve left home.
A: It’s always nice to have your folks there. It makes me sing and dance a little harder.
Q: This is the 25th anniversary year of “CrazySexyCool” and 20th anniversary of “Fan Mail.” When you think back on those records, what comes to mind?
A: It is a blessing. There are a lot of amazing songs that are great for the moment, but they don’t have the lyrics to endure. When you make these songs when you’re recording them, you don’t know they have these legs – only time tells you that. We’re blessed to have a few songs like that…When I see the little girls out there who are, like, 8, and I tell you “No Scrubs” is coming, they are jumping up and down. I wish I could hold all of them and bring them on stage! I never get used it.
Q: It’s so cool to see everyone from Weezer (“No Scrubs”) to Bette Midler (“Waterfalls”) covering your work.
A: And Taylor (Swift) with “Unpretty” and even the coaches on “The Voice,” when they did “Waterfalls” (in 2017). It is such an honor to see that, especially when your peers respect you. It makes us feel good about the body of work.
A: (Laughs) I spilled the beans too soon on that! I thought I could talk about it, but I really can’t yet. It’s definitely something we’re currently working on, and it’s a process. But we’re very happy that we’re putting together a team and will be able to check that off the bucket list…The only people who know our story is us. I can sit down and share things with my friends, but it’s still not Tionne telling them, too. Only we can tell our story 100 percent.
A: It was actually a very pleasant experience. I would not have signed on to do something like that if it was going to be ratchet. We all love some ratchet TV sometimes, but I don’t want to be a part of anything like that! I spoke to Kim prior to agreeing to do it and I’ve always been in that family with Viacom, so it was nice to reconnect. There were some challenging moments, of course – it’s TV. But I think that the show is definitely something refreshing. You’re still getting reality TV, but it’s positive. We’re not cussing each other out, none of that stuff is going on. I would have jumped off that boat otherwise! I’d be like, I’m done. But it’s just positivity between women; you’ll see that exists, because what you usually see on TV is the complete opposite. We shot it in February. It was a gorgeous yacht. We had a whole team of people helping on the ship. It’s crazy! I was trying to help them!
Q: When did you make the life changes to be celibate and become so spiritual?
A: Honestly, I have gone back and forth through the years. When you know what’s right with the truth and you go against that…maturity can come at any age, and when you really get it, you say this important to me and my faith to God. It’s not easy. I’m a human being. But I put forth every effort to try to do the right thing. I feel really good when I do the right thing. It’s a great feeling. It gives you a different kind of strength that you didn’t know you had. We’re so used to getting into whatever that weakness is and then you give that temptation so much more power. I love sharing the knowledge, especially when it’s something healthy for you. I ultimately want everybody to become their best self. I’m not one of those Christians who’s like, you better read the Bible. It’s a different approach because people are in different places in their lives. The last thing I want to do is push someone away from the truth.
TLC and the boys — Nelly and Flo Rida — fresh from their joint performance of hits on Good Morning America, stopped by for a catch up on Sway In The Morning.
The trio of hitmaker’s touch on everything from career longevity, accolades, possible future collaborations and the importance of owning your own masters!
Nelly on Lil Nas X being removed from Billboard Country chart
Nelly: It wasn’t right. Especially when you think about a lot of the genre’s of music that black people have been infiltrated by. We’ve had several artists that have infiltrated hip-hop and R&B. Vanilla Ice had a top rap chart and Eminem has just been killing it, but it happens. I didn’t know we were worried about the color in 2019.
Inspiration behind Flo Rida making music
Flo Rida: I think just growing up in Miami, where it’s a gumball of different cultures. And at the same time, we had the people who paved the way, like the 2 Live Crew, Trick Daddy and Trina. So, it was just to hear myself on the radio for the first time. It just came with the territory about being passionate. I was somebody who was a big fan of music and lots of different genre’s. Growing up in a household where my sisters sing gospel music, so watching them entertain gave me the passion to work hard.
TLC out in the public
Chilli: We’re very approachable. We don’t walk around with an entourage. We’ve never been that way. Most times when people see us, they’re like ‘do you know who you look like?’, they’re thinking there’s no way you’d be out by yourself.
T-Boz: ‘T-Boz wouldn’t be in Target’. Uhh, yes I would!
Chilli: Yeah, they’ll say stuff like that!
T-Boz: The diamond award is really special! We’re proud of that one.
Chilli: That’s the most special to us. They’re all amazing. At the end of the day, I don’t think any type of award makes you as an artist. It’s just a blessing to be able to do what we do, have the longevity and the catalog that we all have. Artists pray for stuff like that. When you’re in the studio recording, you don’t know if it will have longevity but time will tell you that.
Sway: What’s the diamond award?
Chilli: It’s for ‘CrazySexyCool’ and we may — we are very close to getting one more for ‘Fanmail’.
T-Boz: But you have to sell 10 million in the States to get one, and not too many people have.
Nelly: Yes you do!
T-Boz: Do you have one too?
Nelly: Gotta know that!
T-Boz: Hello! Let ’em know, Nelly! Do you have one or two?
Nelly: We’re close to two. ‘Nellyville’ is close, but ‘Country Grammar’ is diamond. I got that plaque like two years ago.
T-Boz: But after this tour, we’re gonna get that second one, because those sales go up when you go on tour.
Thoughts on Taylor Swift not owning her masters
Nelly: It’s hers. It’s your work. It depends on whatever you do. If you’re an athlete and somebody has your shoes, but somebody else has control and the option to sell it.
T-Boz: And you have to ask permission to use your own stuff. We were in that situation with Sony. We re-recorded all of our own music. And we own our version of our masters, and we licence out our version. So, — Sony!
Chilli: And it sounds exactly the same, you can not tell the difference.
T-Boz: So, Taylor, honey, just re-record your stuff and licence out your version. You’ll be good. Because, we make some money off of our publishing now! I own all of my publishing now, I’m so excited this year! You don’t even know!
Re-negotiating after a first deal
T-Boz: That’s what we were in [a production deal]. But, how we got screwed, we didn’t get the chance to re-negotiate the second contract, she kept the same terms.
Sway: From the first contract. And now you’re 20 times more valuable.
T-Boz: And that’s ‘CrazySexyCool’ and that’s our biggest selling album, so you can understand why we were upset and holding people hostage and stuff.
Nelly: And setting houses on fire — naw that wasn’t that!
T-Boz: There you go! Everyone’s not arsonists in the group, you know!
Chilli: That was an accident! He didn’t have any shoes for her, so..
T-Boz: That wasn’t the first fire, this one just ignited!
Possible TLC, Nelly & Flo Rida collab
Nelly: It’s hard, but we’re definitely talking about it. We’ve talked about it. We’ve got things in motion. But it’s just getting in there — it’s the time.
T-Boz: I know we’ve been on the road doing spot dates for two weeks. And then we have to go right back in rehearsal. It’s hard, because we don’t usually split up rehearsals. So, we’re learning new material, and going back to old and press, it’s a lot.
Chilli: It’s crazy, but I think it’s a not so bad problem to have.
Nelly: Yeah, you could be sitting at home! (laughs)
T-Boz: So true. It’s a good lot. It’s a blessing. I got money in my pocket (laughs). But it’s stressful, though. I’m not gonna lie.
Nelly: A lotta artists at home! They ain’t touring this summer! (laughs)
Chilli: The one thing I will say is, with all of us together, everybody can come. Mom, dad, grandma, little kids — it’s definitely that tour. We feel very honored for this package to be together. It took forever to get this thing together, but we did it!
Nelly: Good family affair, man, all but about a minute and 30 — when Chilli starts — gotta be an 18 and over for a minute and 23 seconds! I’m just joking! ‘Kids, go with your momma, I’ma watch this!’
T-Boz: It’s uncomfortable, though! Like, we try not to gyrate on “Red Light Special” no more, and the kids be staring — I can’t do it! I stopped gyrating!
Chilli: We do it in a different way!
Sway: What about us though? I can’t come to a TLC concert with no moves and gyration!
T-Boz: I just twirl around in a circle! We still gyrate a little, just not as much. A little gyration ain’t hurt nobody!
Chilli: In taste!
How the tour came together
Nelly: The girls called and said, ‘yo, we’re going on tour!’ I said ‘oh okay, I’ll be ready’!
T-Boz: We had toured with Nelly together with New Kids On The Block a couple of years ago, and again in Australia. So, we had to find the perfect third person, like, who has a lot of hits, and Flo was perfect! And he said yes, so I was like, ‘awh shoot, it’s happening now!’
Chilli: I called him personally, like, I’m so happy you said yes! I was happy.
Flo Rida: When I heard about it, you didn’t even have to work that hard. When I heard it was ya’ll two, I was like, I’m on.
Current music evolution
Nelly: I understand hip-hop was created by the youth, for the youth. And I understand it has a history, I don’t judge it because I didn’t want to be judged when I first came out. The kids can party to whatever they want. If you don’t like it, there’s another radio station. Some of it I rock with and some of it ain’t for me.
Flo Rida: I appreciate social media, the fact that your everyday Joe can get a chance. I love what’s going on. That’s one less person I have to feed. I can money off this.
T-Boz: I have two statements — I think there is room for everybody, like Nelly says. But, I also think it’s a little different in the aspect that, the originality isn’t the same anymore. A lot of people sound alike. Like, Snoop had his style, and Nelly had his style. Now, everybody sounds the same. Back when we came out, there wasn’t a lot of that. That’s the change I’ve seen, but like he says, there’s room for everybody now.
Chilli: I agree with her 100%, just the originality and the variety is just kinda — not all of it, some people will stand out. But, for the most part, it’s kinda all the same.
Nelly: I blame that on society wanting to make money off of it. Whatever’s winning, is gonna cause a greater demand for it. Now, people have gold singles and I haven’t heard their record on radio!
T-Boz: I’m proud of being a trendsetter though, and you should be, too. I’m proud because of that. I’m never gonna feel bad about that.
Nelly: And that’s why we’re doing a tour, twenty-something years later together!
T-Boz: Hello?! Okay!
Tickets to the TLC, Nelly & Flo Rida tour are on sale right now, head over to LiveNation.com for more details on the hottest show of the summer… a WHOLE LOTTA HITS!
TLC said ‘Good Morning America‘ in style, as they gave the morning television show the ultimate dose of girl power, performing a fresh medley of their greatest hits!
T-Boz and Chilli took to the stage and performed a remix of their best-selling hits “No Scrubs” and “Waterfalls“, before their tour partners Nelly and Flo Rida followed shortly to perform a medley of their greatest hits.
The trio of musicians rejoined the stage together at the end to get “Low” to Flo Rida’s debut hit!
The superstars also took some time out for a Facebook Live interview for GMA in the shows green room.
“We talk about relatable issues that everybody can relate to, no matter what age you are”, T-Boz says about why their legacy stood the test of time.
T-Boz also offers some advice for up and coming musicians in the industry. “Be true to yourself. Respect yourself, and don’t compromise your integrity, morals or character for nothing or nobody”.
“That sounds like life, for me!”, Nelly exclaims. “It works”. Chilli adds, “And that’s a hard thing not to do. Don’t get lost in it”.
Nelly touched on what made him a fan of TLC. “TLC is ground breaking, not just for women, but for music in general. They were one of the first groups to take full control of who they are., and not be afraid to be aggressive and say, ‘no, this is how it’s going to be'”.
Their ‘HitMakers’ tour kicks off across North America this summer on July 23 in Tuscaloosa, AL and concludes on August 31 in Irvine, CA. Tickets are still available at LiveNation.com so don’t miss out, it’s going to be special!