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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Music, Review

ChartMasters: TLC’s Total Album and Singles Sales

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It’s no secret that TLC are the biggest selling female group of all time in the United States, and second only to Spice Girls worldwide. As diehard music fans, we always love to know the exact amount of sales our faves have achieved thus far.

Chartmasters.org specialise in this department and have carried out an extensive review of how popular our girls are and how their sales have fared over the years!

Through the entire 90s decade, they were unstoppable in the US. They’ve got 9 Top 10 singles, which combined lasted 123 weeks in this region. Among them, Creep, Waterfalls, No Scrubs, and Unpretty, were all #1 smashes that topped the Hot 100 for at least 3 weeks each.

The first pair came out of the classic album CrazySexyCool, quite simply the first US RIAA Diamond album ever by a girl group.

Obviously, urban music was nowhere near as global during the 90s as it is right now. TLC were no exception with no chart topper, nor single nor album, in either major market the UK, Canada, France, Germany, and Japan.

Their career was also ended abruptly in 2002 when the main creative force of the trio, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, died at 30 in a tragic car crash. The group then gained a cult aura, although the follow up albums 3D and TLC sold less.

TLC’s Album Sales

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Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip was home to 3 Top 10 hits in the US, posting an impressive chart run thanks to them. In spite of never going higher than #14, it remained 51 weeks inside the Top 50 of the Billboard album list.

This success, added to later interest created by subsequent albums, led it to 4xPlatinum status in the US. It was hardly promoted elsewhere yet since R&B music was still prominently a US thing by 1992. A huge 91.5% of its 4.72 million sales to date thus come from North America alone.

Waterfalls broke several boundaries for the trio in 1995, catapulting CrazySexyCool to much better sales abroad. On top of selling a whopping 11.8 million copies in the US, it also shifted 4.1 million more units globally.

No Scrubs was even bigger in many places, although FanMail wasn’t as consistent as its predecessor. It is still an immense seller, breaking the 10 million threshold in worldwide sales.

Even if she participated in its recording, the absence of Lisa Lopes impacted strongly, and negatively, the reception of 3D. The album also lacked of a solid single, ultimately selling 1.38 million copies.

The attempt of the group to reform and release a new album in 2017 closed in 45,000 units.

Physical Singles

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As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 3 ratio between one album and one physical single.

The string of US Top 10 hits in the US no doubt helped the TLC in amassing sizable physical singles sales during the 90s. By then, the format was still significant there, topping 100 million sales annually.

That’s how both Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg and Baby-Baby-Baby went on to surpass a million sales, almost exclusively from their native country where they got awarded Platinum.

What About Your Friends was a Gold recipient, selling less than the remaining pair of hits although it did well too. The era of their debut album was ended with a count of over 3.4 million physical singles sold.

Creep was already a huge smash, shifting nearly 1.5 million units in the US, plus residual sales in Europe and Oceania. It ended up selling well over 100,000 copies in the UK when it was newly issued after the success of Waterfalls.

In fact, we shouldn’t get it wrong, the biggest hit of this LP is the latter. A 7-weeks #1 in the US, Waterfalls was also the group’s first Top 10 hit in many countries, including the UK where it got to #4.

The song moved over 1.3 million units in the US, 725,000 in Europe and over 100,000 in Oceania. These numbers pushed it over 2 million in total.

Diggin’ On You and Red Light Special sold less but still fairly well, both a bit under a million.

The lead single of FanMailNo Scrubs, managed to become their biggest hit globally. Sales of physical singles were already going down in the US (a sharp drop of 35% from 1997 to 1999), but the song moved over 800,000 units anyway. It went Platinum in the UK, en route for more than 1.3 million sales in Europe.

The status of the group at that point led Unpretty to also move past a million units, but subsequent singles completely failed to gain traction. While No Scrubs looked like the kick off of TLC‘s best years, it happened to be instead their final true hit.

Digital songs

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If early hits of the group sounded very fresh in 1992, R&B got polished and perfected so much in later years that it now feels quite dated.

We can see it easily with their sales in digital formats. Downloads of Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg, What About Your Friends and Baby-Baby-Baby all fail to hit 200,000 units.

Looking at these numbers, it seems hard to believe the latter was 6 weeks #2 in the US, blocked only by Boyz II Men‘s End Of The Road, the then longest running #1 hit of all-time.

The status of songs from CrazySexyCool is fully different. Waterfalls and Creep are R&B classics. They both crack a million combined sales of downloads and ringtones, with the former smashing at 1.77 million. It sold past a million downloads in the US alone.

No Scrubs, another US million seller, splashes out at 2.5 million units. It’s their top selling catalog hit virtually everywhere. Unpretty comes nowhere near and happens to be mostly forgotten nowadays.

There is still one recent song, from 2013, which sold good numbers. That’s J. Cole single Crooked Smile on which they are featured. It sold nearly a million to date. It helps them to top 8 million cumulatively.

Streaming

Streaming is made up of audio and video streams. Our CSPC methodology now includes both to better reflect the real popularity of each track. The main source of data for each avenue is respectively Spotify and YouTube. As detailed in the Fixing Log articleSpotify represents 157 million of the 272 million users of streaming platforms, while YouTube is pretty much the only video platform generating some revenue for the industry. Below is the equivalence set on the aforementioned article:

Audio Stream – 1500 plays equal 1 album unit
Video Stream – 11,750 views equal 1 album unit

Equivalent Albums Sales (EAS) = 272/157 * Spotify streams / 1500 + YouTube views / 11750

Top Hits

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If the classic album of the TLC is CrazySexyCool, singles wise their catalog is led by 1999’s smash No Scrubs. The song is a modern day favorite with a massive 333 million streams on Spotify while also flying high on YouTube. It has now moved past 400,000 EAS in this format.

Waterfalls is a distant but still very solid runner up. It breaks 100 million streams with ease on both platforms. The recent single Crooked Smile does too.

The issue comes behind with scores going down at fast pace. Creep does undoubtedly well with around 75 million on both sides, but Unpretty is already very fair from the top songs.

Full catalog breakdown

If you are familiar with the artist’s catalog and want to check details of each and every song, you can access to all of them right here.

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TLC’s compilations sales

It sounds fairly logical to add together weighted sales of one era – studio album, physical singles, downloads, streams – to get the full picture of an album’s popularity. For older releases though, they also generate sales of various live, music videos and compilation albums.

All those packaging-only records do not create value, they exploit the value originating from the parent studio album of each of its tracks instead. Inevitably, when such compilations are issued, this downgrades catalog sales of the original LP. Thus, to perfectly gauge the worth of these releases, we need to re-assign sales proportionally to its contribution of all the compilations which feature its songs. The following table explains this method.

The distribution process

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How to understand this table? In the example of Now and Forever: The Hits, these figures mean it sold 1,290,000 units worldwide. The second statistics column means all versions of all the songs included on this package add for 804,384 equivalent album sales from streams of all types.

The second part on the right of the table shows how many equivalent streams are coming from each original album, plus the share it represents on the overall package. Thus, streaming figures tell us songs from the FanMail album are responsible for  55% of the Now and Forever: The Hits track list attractiveness. This means it generated 715,000 of its 1,290,000 album sales and so forth for the other records. We then apply this process to all compilations present on below table.

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Full Length related records Sales – Summary

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Here is the most underestimated indicator of an album’s success – the amount of compilation sales of all kinds it generated. Due to the dependency of sales of the original studio albums on these releases, they are a key piece of the jigsaw. These numbers are obtained by applying the method from the section The distribution process to all packages listed under Compilation sales figures listing category.

Unsurprisingly, their near 2 million sales of compilations and music videos are almost entirely powered by their big albums, CrazySexyCool and FanMail. They are each responsible for nearly a million sales of compilations.

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Please note country-specific numbers may miss sales of a few minor releases, although totals are complete.

TLC Career CSPC Results

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So, after checking all the figures, how many overall equivalent album sales has each album by Bryan Adams achieved? Well, at this point we hardly need to add up all of the figures defined in this article!

Albums CSPC results

In the following table, all categories display figures that way, e.g. in equivalent album sales. For example, singles from CrazySexyCool released in digital format sold the equivalent of 549,000 albums – 3,660,000 downloads with a 10 to 1,5 weighting.

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As a reminder:

  • Studio Album: sales of the original album

  • Other Releases: sales of compilations generated thanks to the album

  • Physical Singles: sales of physical singles from the album (ratio 3/10)

  • Download Singles: sales of digital singles from the album (ratio 1,5/10)

  • Streaming: equivalent album sales of all the album tracks (ratio 1/1500 for Audio stream and 1/11750 for Video stream)

Nearly 20 million! CrazySexyCool was close to reach the level which separates strong sellers with super sellers. It may be a matter of time though. At 19.3 million EAS, that will take a few years, but the ongoing appeal of both the album and its primary singles will continue to bring in sales.

Considering their distant rivalry, it’s also worth pointing out that CrazySexyCool edges a million ahead of The Writing’s on the WallDestiny’s Child’s top selling era.

These huge sales imply that FanMail has to settle for number 2 even if it moved an impressive 13 million EAS on its own.

It’s important to note that back then it was very difficult to create a following with urban music outside of the US. In spite of the success of its predecessor, FanMail debuted at #25 in the UK, #13 in Germany, #32 in France, #39 in Austria, #16 in Australia, etc.

It re-peaked afterwards in all these countries thanks to No Scrubs. To go on and sell again so many copies with a near non-existent fan base and general public interest is stunning.

This also means that once you fail to get a hit, you are in trouble. That’s what happened with the last two albums which add next to nothing to their legacy.

In total, the TLC stand on 40.34 million equivalent album sales. That puts them a few millions below remaining super selling girl groups, but it’s definitely a very worthy total, especially since it has been made on the back of almost exclusively 3 albums.

Singles CSPC results

The list is compiled in album equivalent sales generated by each song. Therefore, these figures are not merged units of singles formats. Instead, it includes weighted sales of the song’s physical single, download, ringtone and streaming as well as its share among sales of all albums on which it is featured.

1. 1999 – TLC – No Scrubs [FanMail] – 11,130,000
2. 1994 – TLC – Waterfalls [CrazySexyCool] – 10,210,000
3. 1994 – TLC – Creep [CrazySexyCool] – 5,420,000
4. 1992 – TLC – What About Your Friends [Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip] – 2,090,000
5. 1992 – TLC – Baby-Baby-Baby [Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip] – 1,900,000
6. 1999 – TLC – Unpretty [FanMail] – 1,450,000
7. 1994 – TLC – Red Light Special [CrazySexyCool] – 1,420,000
8. 1992 – TLC – Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg [Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip] – 1,350,000

Discography results

Thanks to our new ASR (Artist Success Rating) concept, we know that their sales represent 21.94 million times the purchase of their entire discography. Coupled with their total sales, it translates into an ASR score of 169. It is similar to the score of bands like Black Eyed PeasMaroon 5 and Destiny’s Child. The ranking of all artists studied so far is available too at this link.

Records & Achievements

  • At 19,279,000 EAS, CrazySexyCool is the 2nd most successful album of all-time by girl group.

  • At 19,279,000 EAS, CrazySexyCool is the 3rd most successful album from 1994.

  • At 13,072,000 EAS, FanMail is among the 20 most successful albums from 1999.

  • CrazySexyCool was the first album by a girl group to ever be awarded a Diamond album in the US.

NB: EAS means Equivalent Album Sales.

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

Announcement, Music, Review

Drake Releases TLC Cover On Latest Project ‘Care Package’

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“Said I got an email today, kinda thought that you forgot about me”. Emotionally charged lines from TLC‘s classic track “FanMail“. We definitely haven’t forgotten about one of the greatest highlights on their 1999 comeback album of the same name.

Nor have we forgotten that the futuristic, anthemic track was covered by the then up-and-coming Toronto singer/rapper Drake in 2010, in the form of “I Get Lonely“, for his mixtape, ‘It’s Never Enough’. Back then it was strictly only available on Soundcloud and various uploads on YouTube — until now.

Drake has decided to release a 17-song compilation of his previously unofficially released classics, titled ‘Care Package‘, giving an official platform for the songs to be purchased and streamed commercially. “Some of our most important moments together available in one place,” he stated in an Instagram post.

“I’m envious of friends of mine that have great committed relationships,” Drizzy told MTV in 2010, regarding his feelings towards the subject of feeling lonely. “When people call home to check on their girl or they say, ‘I’m not going to go out tonight. I’m just going to spend the night with my girl.’ That hits me, man. I just don’t have that. You could be lonely with a bunch of people around you.”

With everybody releasing ‘unreleased’ tracks on new projects from Drake to Nas (‘The Lost Tapes 2‘), let’s hope TLC can follow suit and drop an album of their greatest unreleased tracks, something fans are craving for, worldwide.

Check out Drake’s ‘Care Package’ below: