Following the epic premiere of TLC‘s intimate concert documentary Once In A Lifetime Sessions this week on Netflix, the girls have gone one step further to surprise their fans!
Tonight (Aug 2) it was revealed by Candace Wakefield, the talented singer-songwriter and vocal producer who assisted the girls on last years #1 self-titled album, that they are indeed working on some new music!
“Got to work with BOTH my babies today“, Candace said excitedly on her Instagram. “I’ve always worked with them separate. It’s always a pleasure working with legends.”
She went on congratulate the ladies, stating that they did an ‘amazing job today‘ in the Los Angeles studio, signing off by saying new music is coming soon!
Once In A Lifetime Sessions is an original and unique music documentary series giving viewers the chance to get up close and personal with a specially chosen selection of today’s most celebrated music icons – including Moby, TLC, Nile Rodgers and Noel Gallagher.
Filmed on location at some of the greatest studios around the world, the Sessions highlight the craftsmanship, artistic depth, incredible skill and talent of the artists whilst also showcasing their catalogue.
Each episode is dedicated to a single artist or group and features both an intimate live performance and a vinyl recording session. These are woven together with exclusive interview footage and a masterclass exploring the stories behind some of the most memorable songs of all time.
As one of the world’s most successful female groups of all time, TLC have stormed the charts all over the world.
In Once In A Lifetime Sessions with TLC their incredible story is told through their own words and music, citing their meteoric rise to fame as well as their heartache in tragically losing a member of the band.
Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas and Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins are filmed at The Village Studios in LA where they reflect on their rise to fame, their involvement in female empowerment as well as the time they held infamous record producer Clive Davis hostage…
This Session sees TLC perform live in West Hollywood in front of an intimate crowd, wowing the audience with an unrivalled set list of global hits including; What About Your Friends, Baby-Baby-Baby, Creep, Red Light Special, Diggin’ on You, Fanmail, Silly Ho, Meant To Be, Joyride, Haters, and their timeless classic Waterfalls.
In the vinyl studio session, TLC lay down new covers of their most recent tracks Way Back and It’s Sunny, as well two of their most famous hits Unpretty and No Scrubs, before delivering a masterclass giving insights and stories behind their songs to provide fans with a long awaited once in a lifetime experience.
R&B trio TLC has nothing left to prove. In addition to their four Grammy wins, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes (who passed away in a 2002 car accident) have sold more than 65 million albums worldwide.
The threesome’s first four albums all went multi-platinum, and despite now more than doubling that number, their 1994 smash CrazySexyCool is still the only album by female group to receive diamond certification (10+ million in sales) from the Recording Industry Association of America.
After a 15-year hiatus during which Lopes was never replaced, Watkins and Thomas started a Kickstarter campaign earmarked for what would be the band’s farewell album.
The campaign garnered more than $430,000 — some $280,000 above the $150,000 goal — including a $10,000 contribution from New Kids on the Block and $5,000 from Katy Perry.
Watkins and Thomas intend to keep their word on the album as their swan song, but look forward to continuing under the TLC moniker.
This weekend, the pair appears at their first-ever Pride Festival where they will close the San Diego event with a headlining performance on Sunday night.
PACIFIC recently spoke with Watkins from her L.A. home about it all.
PACIFC: How are you?
TIONNE “T-BOZ” WATKINS: I can’t complain — not at all. Things have been really good. I’ve just been running myself crazy lately. I’m doing the TV show between every live performance and I sometimes ask myself, “Oh my god, what did I do?” But really, it’s a blessing. At least I’m working, right? (laughs)
Yeah! It started in 2016 for just a few episodes. But they called me back three times! Now, I have a whole life there. It’s so fun. And it allows me to get home to have dinner with my kids. It’s a great job for me. And my kids love it.
And that’s kids, plural. With a teenage daughter and all of your work, quite the commitment to adopt a baby boy!
It’s crazy! But I had said year after year that I wanted a boy. And that’s after I almost died with my daughter — I went into a coma for three days. But I’m hardheaded. I was like, “I think I can do it again.” And my family said, “Oh, hell no. You’re not doing that again.”
I wanted to adopt another little boy before, but the mother we were talking to reneged. And I ended up in the ICU and lost my spleen. So I thought it was meant to happen like that because I got really sick. But then my mom told me that this time, (the woman) had another baby and wanted to give it up. We talked to her for two months, made sure she really wanted to do it this time, and it happened.
Great result, but that had to have been difficult.
It was one of the most stressful times in my life. I thought being sick was stressful, but having your child from day one and knowing that someone could still strip that baby away from you, it was the most stress I’ve felt in my life.
But really, it’s all kept me younger. And I really was second-guessing myself at first. People just made so many negative comments about my age. But I’m dancing like I’m 19 years old all over the world and that doesn’t bother me! (laughs)
There’s never been a perfect time to do anything in my history.
My son, Chance, and the adoption just turned everything around for me — and came at the perfect time. He’s really the inspiration for songs like It’s Sunny and Way Back on the TLC album. I just put that positive energy into it.
But like you said, I have a 17-year-old as well. So it’s crazy. I have the emotional teen and the terrible two. So I have a double dose of it right now. (laughs)
Speaking of the album, you guys have said it’s your last. Is it?
It’s the last studio album. But I won’t say it’s the last of TLC. We both really want to do a residency and are currently in negotiations for the right deal. And I think that we both would be down with contributing a song to a compilation album or something like that, but as far as studio albums go, we’re done.
It’s hard. With Lisa, and people holding her vocals hostage, it’s a lot. And it’s stressful. We don’t want to go through all of that. We just really wanted to give fans what they’ve been asking for, and that was another album. So that’s what we did.
And now you’re going to be a part of San Diego’s Pride celebration.
I’m excited. It’s my first time. And honestly, the last few years have been our first time ever doing festivals, period. In the past, we’ve always been on some kind of full-blown tour. But we’re just now getting into spot dates and festivals. It’s awesome.
Great that you chose San Diego to kick it off.
I hosted a solo thing a while back and had a ball. But I’m excited to see what it’s really all about.
People are just so judgmental these days. And they’re judging those who are showing their own reflection and real truth. I just want people to be able to be free and who they are. And we want to support that.
TLC headline the San Diego Pride festival on July 15 at Balboa Park. Get your tickets at https://sdpride.org
TLC had the pleasure of being chosen as the headline act at this years Mighty Hoopla festival, held at Brockwell Park in South London, which serves exclusively as TLC’s only show in the UK in 2018.
This is one of a very few occasions where a female act has been selected to headline a major music festival. Times are changing, for the better. Kudos to Mighty Hoopla for giving the girls the opportunity.
The weather held out beautifully the whole day, bringing out the best of the festival, maintaining the high spirits and eclectic atmosphere amongst the attendees.
The festival line-up boasted a female-majority roster of established artists with varied music genres, including Nadine Coyle (Girls Aloud), Louise (Eternal), Lily Allen, Belinda Carlisle and Spice Girls‘ Melanie C, who paid a loving tribute to Left Eye before performing their UK #1 duet, 2000’s “Never Be The Same Again“.
8:30PM dawned shortly after Lily Allen’s hour long set, blessing us with the main attraction: T-Boz and Chilli, with Left Eye laced effortlessly throughout the performance, in the form of photo collages and her original raps, left to play out in her memory.
From the start, the girls, both donned in beautiful golden toned outfits, set the tone of what to expect; a powerful, high energized trip down memory lane, opening with their debut 1992 hits, “What About Your Friends?” and “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg“.
They took it down a notch with the smooth “Diggin’ On You“, before upping the anté with the club anthem “Silly Ho“, slightly revamped to feature a modern beat sample from the Kendrick Lamar 2017 hit “Humble“. It went down a treat. The crowd went wild .
Rather than giving a male audience member the usual “Red Light Special” lap dance on stage, Chilli opted to invite rapper Q-Boy to dance with her during her bridge.
They took it back to 1992 with “Baby-Baby-Baby“, before diving straight back into 2017, with the anti-bully track “Haters” from their latest album.
The self-love anthem “Unpretty” came next, with the audience singing their hearts out in unison, before the girls took a short break to allow the dancers and band to show and highlight their talents.
The set features a new set of vibrant visuals, produced by the hip-hop choreography duo Nappytabs (Napoleon and Tabitha D’umo), the team behind the Jennifer Lopez Las Vegas residency and television show So You Think You Can Dance?
The opening trumpets in the Grammy winning #1 single “Creep” lit up the stage and set the tone for the excellence that followed. New track “It’s Sunny” was next, with it’s infectious chorus and Earth, Wind & Fire sample.
TLC gave their 2017 hit “Way Back” a 2018 remix, with a catchy ‘TLC’ chant and a sample of the 2001 hit “The Next Episode” by Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, the latter of whom features on the song with the girls.
Chilli asked the audience if she could talk for a minute. As soon as she mentioned her frustration at guys who try to talk to her from the passengers side, the whole crowd was sent into a frenzy, as they knew it was time for “No Scrubs“!
Factors beyond their control meant their set time was delayed, therefore they couldn’t perform beyond the venues curfew, omitting the ode to the fans “Joy Ride” and “Fan Mail“.
That didn’t dent the flow of the night, as they launched into the show finalé, and Left Eye’s favorite song, “Waterfalls“, with the audience singing along loud and proud with the girls.
They bowed and thanked us all for being there, while Chilli hung around a little longer throwing love heart shapes with her hands even when the music had stopped.
One thing is for sure, after this much love from across the pond, this will not be the last time TLC will be touching down on British soils. They love us, as much as we love them.
Salt N Pepa talked to Paper Magazine back in 2015 about their feelings towards TLC during the 90s and the legacy of Left Eye!
Pepa: I remember hearing the group’s music for the first time and we were like “Who are these three new girls coming out?” It was brilliant because they’re R&B; singers, and then you had Lisa who was an emcee. I thought that was awesome, and I knew they were gonna be a hit and make timeless music. Lisa had the “it” factor and she was so free-spirited. That’s what reminded me of Salt-N-Pepa.
Salt: I’m very good at knowing the “it” factor when I see it. When I first saw Beyoncé I was like OMG diva yes! Same thing with TLC and Left Eye in particular. She stood out to me as a brazen, bold, in your face kind of individual. She really was that way in person and it showed on camera.
Their first video “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg” struck me, and they also reminded me of Salt-N-Pepa, too. They were young, they were cute, they were about female empowerment, they said whatever they wanted to say. I fell in love with them from “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg” so I wasn’t surprised that they went onto mega stardom.
Pepa: Their whole style, their attitude, they were very focused. I just knew this wasn’t going to be a one-hit-wonder. To this day, we still play “Scrubs” in our shows. We have to support each other at all times, support women like us.
Salt: I remember being on the set with them when we did a song together with Pebbles [Perri Reid] — they were Pebbles’ protegées — and we barely spoke. I don’t know if they were dumbstruck or fans, but women sometimes do that; we don’t approach each other in music, which I think is a crime.
Now that I’m a more mature woman, if I see another female celebrity, I’m going to go up to them and say “Hey girl what’s up.” But sometimes you get the I’m-a-bigger-star-than-you vibe, so you have to be open.
So I remember us not talking. Years later, Chilli, T-Boz, Pep, and myself did a photo shoot together. And Chilli brought up a time when we were at the Grammy’s and never spoke. She said, “We really looked up to you guys, and we were hurt that you guys didn’t even come up to us.” I was apologizing; I don’t know why that happens with women. We need to be banding together. I don’t feel [competitive] now as a mother and as a more mature person.
I think as Salt-N-Pepa we can be really instrumental in bringing women together in hip-hop and saying it doesn’t have to be like this. Coming up with Lauryn Hill and Queen Latifah, it wasn’t like that. We were all really cool with each other. We were just a bunch of girls coming up in a male-dominated genre of music and we clicked with each other naturally.
Pepa: Now there’s so much more room for females in the industry with us showing that it could be done and with TLC showing that it could be done.
Salt:Women have been fighting to be heard and to be taken seriously in every area: business, music, it doesn’t matter. The struggle continues. Me and Pep are still finding ourselves in situations that I’m sure Left Eye had found herself in and I’m sure that’s why she was screaming. It was like, “I’m a black woman, and I matter.” Sometimes it may have been perceived as spoiled or like a tantrum, but it was really her saying, “see me, I’m not just an artist,” which is a struggle for me.
I’m a producer, I’m a writer, I compose music, I’m a mom. There are so many aspects to me besides being an artist, but sometimes in this business you have to fight to be seen as anything else. Sometimes you feel like a puppet, and I think that’s how she felt. She was not just a recording artist; she was an artist in many ways. We make up our video concepts, there’s so much stuff that we do that we don’t get recognized or credit for and it’s very frustrating.
I’ll tell a story that Russell Simmons doesn’t like: one time I was standing near him, and he didn’t know what Salt-N-Pepa looked like. Somebody happened to ask him what he thought of those Salt-N-Pepa girls and he was like thumbs down, not gonna last. Years later, he tried to sign us to Def Jam. But that’s how it is.
I always say desperation stinks. It’s a very smelly emotion. When you’re willing to say no, turn down money, and piss people off and not care that they call you a bitch, that breaks barriers. I love what Taylor Swift is doing. I’m not only a fan of the music, I’m a fan of her being a young woman who is going hard for what she feels she’s worth. You have to stand in your worth and be able to walk away.
At the end of the day you keep your self-respect and make a statement to the world. That takes a lot of courage because sometimes you’re wrong, but you still leave with your integrity. I was very immature when I was young. Left Eye did some immature things, but at the end of the day, she was saying, “I’m here, I’m important, I matter,” and that’s what I loved about her. She made her statement, she made her mark, and she’s unforgettable.
Pepa: She was very clear on her direction in life. You will definitely remember Left Eye: the eye-patch, the condoms on the shirt. She was just so alive and in your face with it. She was boisterous and had a good attitude that you need in this male-dominated world. She’ll never get lost.
Salt: To me, her legacy is to live out loud. She was authentic, she was herself, she was unapologetic about who she was. We would all like to be that way and sometimes we shy away from that because we’re afraid of being judged. She was judged, but she was willing to be judged. That’s what I really loved about her.
Anything that’s self-destructive, that’s chasing a waterfall. We wanted to make a song with a strong message – about unprotected sex, being promiscuous, and hanging out in the wrong crowd. The messages in Waterfalls hit home. I think that’s why it’s our biggest hit to date.
When it first went to radio, nobody got it. They didn’t understand what we were talking about. It needed the video to bring the words to life. Even I don’t think I really fell in love with the song until I saw it. The moment I did, I knew it would be a hit.
The timing was perfect. Organized Noize produced the track. They’d been working with Outkast and Goodie Mob and that funky, soulful sound that was their signature. CeeLo Green sang backing vocals – way before he was a big star. P Diddy did some interludes on the album, CrazySexyCool, too. But obviously, once our voices got on there, it became a TLC record.
The song made us much more relevant – not just a fun girl group. We were bringing awareness to subjects people were nervous talking about. It was groundbreaking for us: from then on, we were seen as the real deal.
We definitely wanted to be role models. We felt like a lot of females didn’t have other females pulling for them – so every song we put out was a girl-power song. We told it from a woman’s point of view. Women liked that and men respected it.
AIDs is still out there. You still have bullying. You still have drugs. But you have to continue to bring awareness so that people can become more responsible and want to do the right things. You can never have too many records like Waterfalls.
Tionne ‘T-Boz’ Watkins, singer and songwriter
I always loved what you’d call alternative music. Nirvana, Kurt Cobain, Duran Duran, Billy Idol. Bennie and the Jets by Elton John was my thing. I was born in Iowa and moved to Atlanta when I was a child.
Every time I tell people I’m from Iowa, they go: “There’s black people there?” I actually have a T-shirt that says: “Yes, there are black people in Iowa.”
I wanted Waterfalls to be our version of alternative music. When I heard an early version, I thought: “My god, this is perfect.” It was so left of what we’d done on our first album. It was amazeballs.
When we had finished recording it, we played it for Clive Davies, the big kahuna at the label. He was the boss of Arista, which distributed our label La Face. He didn’t like it. He said it was too deep. He didn’t think people would bump up the street to it.
So we went to LA Reid, who ran LaFace. We bought a giant poster and wrote on it: “Please believe in us, we’ll make the best video ever.” He went against Clive and put up the money. We called in F Gary Gray to direct the video.
The first time he showed us the concept – which showed a kid getting killed selling drugs and a guy contracting HIV – we started crying.
AIDS was an epidemic at the time. Not long after the song came out, I was doing a book-signing and a man came up to me and held my hand. “I didn’t kill myself because of you,” he said. “I felt like nobody understood. But I felt like you guys understood how people can end up in my situation.”
The day before recording, I’d been in a car with Lisa [“Left Eye” Lopes, who was killed in a car accident in 2002]. We saw a beautiful rainbow. That’s how her rap starts: “I seen a rainbow yesterday.” She’d been through a lot with the house burning down, she’d been locked up in the centre for drug and alcohol treatment.
That was serious, what she said was real. It was for herself and everyone else who had been down the wrong path, chased the wrong things. And she really did see that rainbow – and it made her feel good about life and remember how precious it is. That song still has meaning 25 years on.
I will never forget the day we filmed that video. I can’t swim. It was 6am and I’m on this little plastic thing in the middle of 80,000 tonnes of water, in the lake where they shot Jaws at Universal Studios. That’s why my feet are planted. I do not move. I was so worried about falling in.
When we showed the video to Clive, he was like: “I knew it would be great!” And we were looking at him like: “What? Hush up!” We eventually fired people and got out of our deal. We were so underpaid. We made a lot of people wealthy. Being a black woman in the industry means you have so much going against you.
I’m not fearful about anything. If I believe in something and want to to talk about it, then that’s what we’re doing. I’m just happy that we were able to succeed in what we set out to do – make a difference.
TLC sat down with Beats 1 on April 25, 2018, the 16th anniversary of the passing of the beloved Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes.
On Cardi B Paying Them Homage
T-Boz: “I know she wore my outfits at the Grammys and she wore Lisa’s hair. It was our whole Grammys-TLC feel when we were on stage, and she said Left Eye on one song, and paid homage to TLC on another song — our “Creep” song and then our name, too. She did it twice and she also paid us love on our page. So a lot of love — it was awesome.”
On TLC’s Legacy
T-Boz: “It’s really an honor. You never think people are going to be — like, you always wish that, you want that. We would always say, ‘we want to be trendsetters. We want little girls to dress like us.’ But when you actually see them do it for Halloween, and have birthday parties, and generations — the grandma, the mom, and the daughter — all at the concerts. It’s really amazing. We’re blessed to be 25 years in, and people are still doing it.”
Chilli: “We are really blessed. And like she said, as an artist when you’re new coming out, your dream is to be able to have that type of effect — a positive one — on everybody, and to have that longevity. You don’t know if that’s going to be your story, so time tells that, and it has. It’s been 20 plus years, and even Bruno Mars, for that matter — the video that he had featuring Cardi B — it was almost like our “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” video, and he had on a TLC t-shirt! It’s amazing and it’s a blessing for us to see that. It makes us feel really good and lets us know, OK we did it right. We’re still doing it, so yes, it is awesome.”
On The Anniversary of Left Eye’s Passing
Chilli: “First of all, when you think of the word anniversary — I mean, I know that it’s a date that something took place. But when you think about that, you think of happy times.
When people celebrate the anniversary of a wedding, or a marriage, or a relationship of any kind, and it seems like to me it’s all something cheerful, and there’s nothing cheerful to me about her passing. I mean nothing. We don’t go out of our way to do anything like that. I mean, when her birthday comes around, yes, we talk about that, but not the death.”
T-Boz: “But we celebrate it all year round. I mean really because we always incorporate her in everything we do. We always keep her memory alive. We showcase the great things, like why people loved her. So yeah, like when anybody else’s mom or sister dies, I don’t know a lot of people who celebrate cake or anything.”