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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