Announcement, Interview, News

T-Boz: “The Industry Turned On Us When Left Eye Passed, But We Proved TLC Is Forever!”

The legendary Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins stopped by for a chat with Jason Lee and DJ Damage at Hollywood Unlocked: Uncensored for a catch up with the guys about her monumental career so far, as well as an update on what she’s doing now to build on her ever-growing legacy.

Tionne didn’t hold back and spoke her mind, which is what we love about her! Some people may not be aware, but despite the super success of TLC, when they tragically lost Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes in 2002, the industry lost faith in the girls’ ability to continue successfully as a group, including their very own record label boss, L.A. Reid, who signed them to LaFace Records in 1991.

“When Lisa died, the whole industry turned on us. Everybody. They were like, ‘it’s over for them, they’re never gonna do it again'”, Tionne admits. “I kept saying, nah bro, that still doesn’t hinder my talent and my passion to sing and dance — it’s in my soul. You just have to find that one person to say yes, and find your new normal. We all know that it’s never going to be the same again, but you find your new normal and that’s what Lisa would have wanted us to do. And I have kids to feed, so why would I stop? It’s TLC forever, whether she’s physically here or not”.

TLC also had to prove themselves to tour promoters to show them that they can still put on a ground-breaking, energetic live show. Tionne gives props to VH1, who gave them a shot and hired them for the VH1 Superbowl Blitz in 2014, which was a televised concert that allowed the world to see exactly what a TLC show looks like. Little did we know that acts like Drake, Nelly and T.I. pulled out on the girls before the show, but they proved that they could rock a complete concert on their own.

“Doug E. Fresh came through and Misty Copeland”, Tionne says. “I was like, maybe God wanted it this way, so that we can prove to people that we don’t need nobody else to rock a show”. Tionne has her suspicions that other artists possibly doubted them too. “I sometimes wonder was it because you don’t know if you’re gonna look sucker free Sunday standing next to us if it may be over, or you just don’t wanna be a part of that. But it’s all good, because it turned out exactly the way it was supposed to be — that was one of the best concerts, and we got the highest ratings, and that’s what put us on the map, again. Everyone and their mama started calling us to perform again after that, when they saw that we can still do it”.

When times got tough in her career, Tionne quickly found out who was truly there for her, and who was only there to take advantage when things are going good. “If you ever got really sick in the hospital, or had a death in the family, there’s certain times in life when you see who really has your back and who does not — we’re basically a dollar sign, and you never really cared in the first place”, Tionne explains. The only industry figures that really cared are her friends Leslie Braithwaite, Shanti Das and Kawan “KP” Prather.

Tionne touched on how she is coping with managing her TLC career during the current Covid-19 crisis. “They want me to do a virtual show. TLC is supposed to shoot something too, but I’m like, ain’t nobody coming up in here”, Tionne reveals. “We did a show with CW and the iHeart network [Iconic: TLC]. They sent me a big trunk, because I was like, no, the sound guy can’t come, you label it [jokingly sings the alphabet]. I put it together — I did good though!”.

Tionne has serious reasons for needing to take social distancing seriously, aside from her own health, in which her immune system is already compromised because of her sickle cell disease, but she also has to make sure her mom Gayle and daughter Chase Rolison are kept safe also because of their health conditions. “I’ve got a pre-existing condition, I ain’t trying to die! My mom was dealing with cancer, and my daughter has two diseases — sjogren’s, which is a cousin to Lupus — and Lupus, from which she almost lost her life at the beginning of year. She was in the hospital for almost ten months”, Tionne says. “So, I can’t take any chances on anything, so I’ve been a hermit. I’ve seen so many movies it’s ridiculous”.

Any good TLC fan knows that the girls are mommies first before anything else, and Tionne is having an amazing time raising her kids Chase, 19, and her son, Chance, 5. “It’s amazing — I just turned 50, which I was told I couldn’t, ever. I’m proud to tell people my age, I was told I would die by 30, I would be disabled and I wouldn’t have kids and I’ve superceded all of that”, Tionne says. “I was happy [to reach 50]. Chilli won’t even pick up the phone [on her birthdays] so you can’t wish her happy birthday. She is not happy! She changes her number like hot cakes”.

Tionne has always wanted a son and even kept a box of clothes for a boy, so Chance has truly been a gift in Tionne’s life. “I always said that I wanted a son, and I would have a box of clothes and people would say, ‘girl, you’re so crazy’, and I would say, no, when I have my son, he’s going to wear this”, Tionne reveals. “God made that baby for me, trust me on this. He looks just like me, everything about him is just like us. So, I know that God tailor-made him for me, and I had been asking him for years. I opened that box and my baby put wore those clothes just like I said. So, I believe in words and manifesting things into existence. He keeps me young because he’s fun — he’s a character”.

She is now planning her return to ATL after living in LA for years. “I move back to Atlanta next month [November]. For a lot of reasons — I have more of a support system there”, Tionne admits. “I don’t like the earth moving and swaying, I don’t like running from fires.. I don’t like it. I never liked LA”.

On the ever-popular topic of Verzuz, Tionne reiterates that she would prefer to go up against a male group, as she feels no other girl group could compare to their style. “We always competed with guys — we never looked at women as competition. Apart from maybe Aaliyah, there were no other women out with swag like that”, Tionne admits. “I don’t think there will be another TLC. There will never be another T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli. We had a chemistry that was so special, that’s why we would never replace Lisa. No heffa belongs in between us two.”

Tionne praises Destiny’s Child and reveals that she was actually supposed to choreograph for them when they were the Baby Dolls, but she had to go on tour. “I always knew Beyoncé was going to be Beyoncé, though! I could tell Beyoncé was the star”, Tionne admits. She also feels that if TLC were to do Verzuz with another girl group, Destiny’s Child would be a good fit. “I don’t know if Beyoncé would do it, but Kelly might, I don’t know. For some reason, Swizz Beats and Timbaland are not biting on it. The fans started it more, so it’s not like I said ‘hey, can I do one?’. But to me it’s just a friendly competition, it’s just a time to make people happy in a crazy world with covid right now and it makes people feel good”

Tionne also reveals that she has filmed an upcoming epsiode of ‘Drop The Mic‘ with DJ Cassidy. “He did all the old school first and all the rappers like MC Lyte and Doug E. Fresh, Rob Bass. They were rapping over the tracks on Zoom, it was awesome”.

Tionne loves the TLC Army fans! And although she doesn’t always understand why fans like to see TLC shows multiple times, she reveals some of reasons that makes them stick around. “One of them wore [a shirt] ‘this is my 33rd concert’, and I was like, what would make someone see someone 33 times, I don’t understand?”, Tionne says. “So, I asked her she said because our lyrics saved her life or I’ve heard something we said in an interview that stopped them taking their own lives. They said our music makes them feel good at the time that they needed it, and that makes them want to come back”.

She said she gets to connect with fans when they tell her things during meet and greets, although she’s unsure if she will still do meets in the future because of the coronavirus outbreak. “We do meet and greets before the concerts, which probably will never happen again, don’t want nobody touching me and giving me cooties since Covid been out! So, I’m not going to do anymore of those, so just know that!”

Support Tionne’s TLCBD line and check out her online children’s and women’s clothing store, Spoodles.

Interview, Lifestyle, News, Radio

T-Boz: “Police Pulled Me Over Just For Driving A Nice Car!”

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Earlier this month, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins took some time out to speak with the hit travel podcast, ‘All The S**t I’ve Learned Abroad‘, with Steph Paige and Andrea Gillis about her travel experiences and opens up about her thoughts and feelings on the Black Lives Matter movement.

Tionne can completely relate to the loss of George Floyd, who was tragically murdered in broad daylight by police last month, as her cousin Eddie Russell Jr was also killed when he was shot by Illinois police in September 2017, despite informing them that he suffered with a mental illness to deter them from using unjust force.

“The only difference with racism [today] is that it’s being taped now. There’s still people doing modern day lynching, and that’s what you’re seeing when you see cases like Ahmaud Aubury and George Floyd”, Tionne says. “I’ve looked up all of these cases — my cousin was actually one of them that was gunned down with AR-15’s and shot 18 times. They blew his jaw off and the back of his head, and he was mentally ill. They told my cousin to call her son out and they gunned him down as soon as he came out of that garage”.

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Tionne’s cousin Eddie Russell Jr

In the midst of these constant tragedies against black people, Tionne is pleased to see that the Black Lives Matter movement is also being supported by non-black people, who aren’t afraid to use their voices to help to make a change. “I’m looking at all of these races come together to fight for the same thing. Even caucasian people are saying they’re tired of black people being murdered by white cops”, Tionne says. “It broke my heart the other day when Ashton Kutcher almost started crying because his white friends kept saying ‘all lives matter’, and he said no, black lives DO matter.”

Tionne also addresses the fact that a lot of the looting and vandalism isn’t always carried out by black people. With that said, although she doesn’t agree with the looting, she does understand why it happens sometimes. “It might not be right, but I understand it. I might not like it, because I’ve been robbed before when I had my store [Chase’s Closet], but I understand why they’re doing it”, Tionne exclaims.

One of the saddest realities of living in an unjust world as a black person is reassuring the younger generation that they shouldn’t be afraid of all police. Tionne mentions how her children, daughter Chase Rolison and her four year old son, Chance, become very frightened of the police, especially with so much coverage on the brutality against the black community. “It’s a shame that when police are around my daughter she gets nervous, and when I ask her what’s wrong she says it’s because she’s black. My kids shouldn’t have to feel that way”, Tionne explains. “Being black, period, you have to have a different conversation with your child that you don’t really want to have”.

Tionne's children Chase and Chance
Tionne’s children Chase and Chance

Tionne reveals that she was also pulled over by the police just for being a black woman driving a nice car. “I’ve been pinned down with 10 cops and guns at my head. My car light had a short in it, so I pulled over and flicked it on and off, and they said I was doing a gang initiation. They had 10 cops lay me out on the car, pat me down with guns to my head. What if someone’s finger had slipped?”, Tionne says.

In another occasion, while Tionne was 6 and a half months pregnant, driving her Porsche on the way back from recording at DARP studios for a TLC record, when she was once again ambushed by police unnecessarily. “He pulls me over and asks what I’m doing in this neighbourhood and ‘you better recite your address, say it fast and you better not stutter!’. Then he asks me how can I afford this car. But I have to take it because he has a gun and I don’t and I’m being disrespected about something I haven’t done, because of his ignorant issues about the world. When the cops found out who I was, he just threw my licence at me and said that I could go”.

TLC in 1999
TLC in 1999

Addressing racial prejudice within the music industry, Tionne vents her frustrations on her group TLC being labelled as an R&B group just because they are black, despite producing pop music. “Predominantly, TLC release universal music. Our music fits every genre — except a country song, but I want to!”, Tionne confesses. “But mostly pop — “No Scrubs” is pop, “Waterfalls” is pop, “Unpretty” is pop. But when you’re black, and do a pop song, they still call it R&B — I’m not just an R&B group, don’t box me in just because of my colour. We have different fights within the industry where if you’re black you get paid less than the white groups.”

To hear more about Tionne’s revelations and experiences, including incidents in Paris and South Africa whilst travelling, and why she wants to visit Bora Bora, check out the full episode below!

Be sure to subscribe to the “All The S**t I’ve Learned Abroad” podcast on Spotify.

History, Interview, News

Jermaine Dupri: “Xscape Sang Low On First Single To Sound Like TLC”

TLC-Xscape-JermaineDupri TLC-ARMY.COM

In the second episode of T.I.‘s ExpidiTIously with Jermaine Dupri (April 9), he reminisces about the early days of his career and how he first became to work with Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, whom he met through his close friend Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, who was sleeping in his closet at the time.

The girls were in a girl group — but it wasn’t the TLC we currently know and love. T-Boz and Left Eye were in another group, calling themselves Second Nature. “I started cutting songs with ‘TL’ in my house, way before L.A. and Babyface came onto the scene”, Jermaine recalls.

“I was writing R&B songs for them, and they were like, ‘okay, let’s do it’. So, I wrote these songs for ‘TL’ and one was called “I Got It Goin’ On“, he continues. “The way I was singing on the demo, I said I want you to sing it like this. Tionne was like ‘that’s low, don’t nobody wanna hear me sing like that, they wanna hear me sang’.”

“I was like ‘nah, you’ve gotta be cool. You’ve gotta sing down here where I’m at. You hear where I’m at?'”, Jermaine said. “So, Tionne started mimicking my demo, and that’s how she got that T-Boz sound that people know of today “.

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TLC as 2nd Nature in 1990

Before TLC signed a record deal with LaFace Records, Left Eye called Jermaine to tell him about a meeting she had scheduled with Pebbles. “She said ‘JD, we’re having this meeting with Pebbles, should I take the meeting?’ I could have told her don’t go.”, he recalls. “But I didn’t have a label or an outlet to tell her to say no at the time. I couldn’t replace the opportunity. So I told her to go to the meeting, because if you get signed I’m going to do the songs. So, I was thinking as a producer as opposed to the CEO of a record company. I was thinking if they get a deal bigger than I had, then I can produce on these bigger records. So, I encouraged her to have this meeting with Pebbles, and basically said I’m caught up with Kris Kross, I don’t have the means to do both.”

Jermaine points out that if he had signed TLC at the time when he had the opportunity, it would have been a slightly different TLC with a former member instead of Chilli. “The C at that time was a girl named Crystal, who was the girlfriend of Headliner, a DJ from the group Arrested Development, another one of Ian Burke‘s groups, which is how Crystal got in the group. I don’t know what happened in that meeting with Pebbles, but she got rid of Crystal and added a girl she knew, which was Chilli, and introduced them to L.A. and Babyface.”

He is grateful for how TLC have always had his back throughout their career, never forgetting where they came from and keep him involved in their projects. He said, “I did the “Hat 2 Da Back” remix, which is the version that came out, and a couple of songs on ‘CrazySexyCool‘ including the intro with Phife Dogg, rest in peace. But they always kept me in the mix, they really remembered and never acted like that shit came from somewhere else, they remember how it started. So I was cool; I’ve got TLC. I’ve got Kris Kross. I’ve got Xscape”.

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

Jermaine mostly wrote his R&B songs with a low register in mind based on the T-Boz sound. “I was making these records with Tionne and she was singing low, so that’s all I knew when it came to R&B, as far as me writing it”, Jermaine explains. This sound went on to influence Xscape, the first group he signed to his So So Def label.

Although Xscape already had cemented their sound with LaTocha Scott as the lead singer, Jermaine wanted to inject some songs with a low register lead vocal like TLC. He presented the track, “Just Kickin’ It” to the girls, which was also the debut single for the group. However, it featured Kandi Burruss on the lead vocal, as Jermaine felt she had the lower register that LaTocha couldn’t achieve. “I had LaTocha sing on it but it didn’t sound right for what I wanted”, he admits.

Jermaine notes he feels that his influence on changing the original vocal dynamics of Xscape led to their problems with each other later on in group, which ended with the original line-up of the group going on a lengthy hiatus for 18 years before reuniting to go on tour in 2017.

“I was against them being just another En Vogue, there needs to be an edge to it than just four girls singing, all of them need to sing” Jermaine explains. “If “Just Kickin’ It” wasn’t successful, Kandi probably wouldn’t have been lead on the second album. If people liked her singing on lead, then okay”.

Do you think Kandi and T-Boz sound alike vocally? Would a TLC and Xscape collab be good? 

Catch up on the first part of the JD interview here

Appearance, Review, Television

T-Boz Reprises Her Role As Sheila On Days With A Secret Baby… But Who’s The Daddy?

Sheila's New Baby Days April Fools 2020 TLC-ARMY.COM
Tionne Watkins, Lamon Archey “Days of our Lives” Set NBC Studios Burbank 09/17/19 © XJJohnson/jpistudios.com 310-657-9661 Episode # 13820 U.S.Airdate 04/01/20

So the rumors were true, TionneT-Boz” Watkins did indeed return to her role as Sheila Watkins on the hit NBC soap Days Of Our Lives! We teased her return back in November 2019, which left fans of her character excited to have her back in Salem.

On this return, Sheila has a major announcement to make — she had a baby in her time away from Salem, and needs help to find the baby, which has been kidnapped. She needs her baby daddy to give her that help — so turns up at the door of Eli Grant (Lamon Archey)!

Eli is shocked to see Sheila back in town, and even more shocked to learn that she is claiming he is the father to her baby daughter. Lani Price (Sal Stowers) is also shocked, before Eli admits that it is a possibility as he had a one night stand with Sheila before she left town.

Episode # 13820

Eli makes some calls to his friends at the FBI and learns about a baby smuggling ring in Salem, which his new baby could have been a victim of. Meanwhile, we learn that Leo has arranged to have the baby snatched and attempts to sell her to Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith) and Will Horton (Chandler Massey). Ben Weston (Robert Scott Wilson) appears at the Kiriakis mansion with a little baby girl of color. He didn’t know the package would be a baby.

Sheila bursts into the room with Eli to rescue her baby and confront Leo for his actions. “Man, I can’t believe your bitch ass is behind this. And I thought the two of us were tight”, Sheila screams. Leo claims he didn’t know this was Sheila’s baby. Sheila continues, “But the only reason you dragged me to drag queen bingo is so you could kidnap my baby. And I lost 40 bucks. Don’t ever come near us again.” She and Eli leave with their baby.

Episode # 13820

Sheila and Eli break the news to Lani to announce they wish to be together to allow their baby daughter to have both parents together.

Lani detects something isn’t right about Sheila’s story, insisting they carry out a paternity test. Sheila quickly admits she lied and is immediately greeted by her new husband, Dr. Daniel Jonas (Shawn Christian), the allegedly deceased son of Maggie Kiriakis. He claims that Sheila was pregnant before they met, leaving questions about who the father really was if it wasn’t Eli or Daniel.

They are then greeted by Lani’s father, Abe Carver (James Reynolds). Sheila quickly informs him that he indeed is the father to her child, and that he was conceived on her last day in Salem after his 2019 Mayoral Debate. “Come a say hi to your new daughter, Baby Sheila“, Sheila gushes. Abe is left speechless.

Episode # 13820

This all sounds too good to be true, right? Well, we fast forward to the final scene of the episode which aired on April 1st. Sonny walks in to find Leo in bed with his husband, which ends with Leo saying “April Fools!” to the camera!

That’s right, this unrealistic episode was a one off prank made for April Fools Day on April 1st. This also means that won’t be seeing Sheila return for a quite a while. However, stranger things have happened. Let’s hope she makes a genuine return to the show soon.