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.

Announcement, Interview, News

TLC Say Their Ideal Choice For Verzuz Would Be Boyz II Men or BBD / T-Boz Clears Up Misconceptions

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TLC are the epitome of girl power! So much so, that they never see other female groups as competition and always give props to their peers. Instead, they would rather go head-to-head with male groups like Boyz II Men, who were just as successful as TLC at the peak of their careers in the 90’s.

TLC would playfully rival Boyz II Men with their succeses, trying to outdo each others’ record sales. To this date, they both have the same amount of top ten Billboard hits and number one singles. When it came to the groups like SWV, En Vogue and Xscape, TLC had nothing but support and respect for them.

Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas were special guests on T.I‘s hit podcast ‘ExpediTIously‘ (recorded back in April shortly after Tionne’s 50th Birthday when the COVID-19 lockdown began) airing on August 13, 2020 to set the record straight on a number of things — one thing specifically being to clear up a misconception that his previous guest Jermaine Dupri put out, stating that he was the reason T-Boz got her iconic low register singing style.

TLC-Xscape-JermaineDupri TLC-ARMY.COM

“The reason why it’s important for me to say something, as a black woman in this industry — for both of us to not sleep our way up, suck our way up, and for me to do this off of my talent”, Tionne states regarding her statement. “Certain accolades that you’ve worked hard for, you can’t let people take that from you”.

“The other day when JD was on your show — some things were very inaccurate. It was like a revision of history — that’s when somebody changes what happened in the past and makes it different. I have proof, facts are facts.” Tionne goes on to state that she appreciates what Jermaine did for her, but she wants to set the record straight on how she started her deep singing style, auditioning for Ian Burke and Rico Wade before Jermaine had ever heard her sing.

“When I first met Lisa in Second Nature, Rico and Ian came to my house because a girl named Crystal wanted to start a group”, Tionne says. “Lisa stayed out in the car, so I hadn’t met her yet (she was QT at the time). When they came in I did my dance, my ATL thing.” She sang the 1987 hit song “Still A Thrill” by Jody Watley, which also helped her know she can sing deep, and 1990’s “Wanna Get With U” by Guy. “I was rocking the low notes since I was 17 years old”.

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T-Boz in 2nd Nature with Lisa and Crystal in 1990

Jermaine hearing T-Boz singing deep led him to place her on demo’s for his upcoming group at the time, Kris Kross. Tionne praised JD for helping her feel comfortable singing low after producing her first demo, “I Got It Goin’ On“, and not fearing being called gay for singing deep.

“I came out [with TLC] and they thought I was gay anyway because of the way I was dressed, but back then I didn’t wanna fight a fight that wasn’t mine, but my mom said it doesn’t matter what people think, as long as you and God know”, Tionne says. “So JD did have a good idea to just keep it as my thing. He made me feel confident doing something that I was already doing and it turned out to be great for us”.

After this week’s highly anticipated Verzuz episode with Brandy vs Monica, is the world any closer to receiving a TLC Verzuz episode? Musicians like SWV and Xscape have offered to go up against TLC in a Verzuz battle, but TLC have other plans for the suggestions. “People compare us to other girl groups just because we’re girls, but I think we’re all different”, Tionne states. “In my opinion, we never like to be compared to females — there’s no competition, we support each other”, Chilli adds. “We felt our competition was more with boy bands, so I’d say maybe TLC against Boyz II Men or something”.

TLC SWV XSCAPE VERZUZ 2020
Previous Verzuz ideas with SWV and Xscape

T-Boz reminds us that they have always shared love with the females, by adding Christina Aguilera, Destiny’s Child and Blaque as openers to the FanMail tour in 2000. “We were never in competition with them”, she insists. As for the Boyz II Men Verzuz, T-Boz had this to say to them, “We’re calling you out, come get some! Let’s go, Verzuz!”

Dealing with coronavirus

Chilli: We have a lot of TV stuff we’re working on behind the scenes. Sadly, we’re supposed to be on the road right now. The tours are all cancelled until next year. Hopefully they find a vaccine soon or something.

T-Boz: I’m scared to take it, I’m not taking it!

Chilli: I get the flu shot every year, I don’t play! I’m not opposed to a vaccine, I just don’t want to be the first to take it! I’ll wait a while. Get oregano oil and cod liver oil [to boost your immune system]. Regardless of the news, they do not understand this stuff. When I go to the grocery store, masked up and keeping my distance —

T-Boz: Respecting the rules!

Chilli: A couple of people I’ve had to tell to get back. But even kids with nothing on, it doesn’t have to be a professional mask. We need to take this seriously. Boost your immune system and stay safe.

T-Boz: On a serious note, there’s people like me with sickle cell disease with no cure; my mom has cancer right now and my daughter has Lupus. It suppresses our immune system. So there’s people like us who can’t fight off stuff like that who can die. So, when you’re not respecting the rules you affect people’s lives tremendously, people like me who can’t afford to catch anything.

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Spitting bars and group roles

T-Boz: Lisa was always the rapper. But we did a [rap] song on the first album.

Chilli: Marley Marl! Do you remember him, the producer? We did a song with him, and said you should all rap. I was shaking in my boots!

T-Boz: I sounded like a man! I sound manly as hell! I know why they thought I was gay now, they were coming for me!

Chilli: I was very proud of my rap, I was so excited, it came out good. Lisa told me that she was proud of me. That’s the only time that happened. Everybody came in the group already doing their thing. Lisa was a rapper, she doesn’t sing. That’s the special thing about this group, we were like three solo artists put together, and it just works. That’s our formula. We respect each others lanes.

Beating SWV to be called TLC

T-Boz: What’s funny is SWV were TLC at first [Taj, Lelee, Coko]. But they didn’t legally lock it in, so Pebbles got it. So they became Sisters With Voices.

Chilli: That was the name of their group, yes. It was like whoever came out first. We just happened to beat them to the punch with that one.

What are your thoughts on TLC Verzuz with Boyz II Men or BBD?

Announcement, Competition, News, Poll

Xscape Challenge TLC and SWV to a Verzuz Battle!

TLC SWV XSCAPE VERZUZ 2020

The R&B groups of the 90’s aren’t done with the topic of a girl group 90’s Verzuz battle just yet. Tamika Scott of the group Xscape today (July 29, 2020) gave Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins a public reply, in response to T-Boz saying she would willingly battle the any of groups back in May. “It would have to be in a ‘nice and love’ way, a friendly competition”, she insisted.

Tamika reached out to T-Boz via Instagram, to inform her that she has the blessing of her group mate Tameka “Tiny” Harris and SWV member Lelee Lyons. Tamika said, “Okay T-Boz, I hear you… I spoke with Tiny last night and I spoke with Lelee today. We’re here for it, let’s do it for the culture! Let’s have some fun ladies!!”

It is currently unclear how three groups could carry out a head-to-head challenge, but if the technicalities can be figured out this would be an epic Verzuz episode, breaking the boundaries and making new rules for a three-way challenge for the first time.

As long as one member from each group agrees, this could finally happen. The Verzuz team have already teased some interest in the acts included in this challenge, so it’s just a waiting game.

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👀 Text us at (718) 866-1775 and tell us #VERZUZ

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Would your money be on TLC, SWV or Xscape?

Music, News, Poll, Rumor, Tribute

VOTE: Which Group Would Make The Best Verzuz Battle With TLC?

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Verzuz has quickly become one of the most powerful quarantine-friendly entertainment platforms going. Ever since March 2020, music artists have been having a blast taking part in Verzuz challenges, set up by Timbaland and Swizz Beats. In this online series on Instagram, two artists engage in a face off with a selection of their biggest hits for a friendly competition with each other.

In the past, the series has featured some memorable battles, kicking off with The-Dream vs Sean Garrett, Ne-Yo vs Johnta Austin, Ryan Tedder vs Benny Blanco, Scott Storch vs Mannie Fresh, T-Pain vs Lil’ Jon, Erykah Badu vs Jill Scott, Nelly vs Ludacris, Bounty Killer vs Beenie Man, 112 vs Jagged Edge, and most notably the Babyface vs Teddy Riley battle, which was infamously overwhelmed with technical difficulties and over performing on Teddy’s side. Once they rescheduled and ironed out the kinks, the show later ran smoothly, much to the delight of the fans.

The Verzuz Instagram highlighted a comment Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins made this week on a post regarding a TLC Verzuz battle with the girl groups SWV and Xscape, which she co-signed and it went viral on the blogs. Since then, thousands of fans have shown their approval to the suggestion. “Text us at (718) 866 -1775 and tell us“, Verzuz stated on the post.

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👀 Text us at (718) 866-1775 and tell us #VERZUZ

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The suggestion was actually presented to her last month on her 50th birthday (April 26), by her brother Carnoy “Koko” Watkins. He suggested that TLC should do a Verzuz battle with Destiny’s Child, although Tionne initially protested and said there are other groups besides them.

That would be fun“, T-Boz said. “It would have to be in a ‘nice and love’ way, a friendly competition.” The Spice Girls could also be considered, as a battle between the two biggest-selling girl groups in the world would be an iconic moment.

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TLC in 1999 (Photo: Ron Davis)

Girl groups aside, TLC could even battle a male group. With the strength of their solid catalog, they have the capabilities the battle against boy and girl groups. Candidates like Boyz II Men and BBD, who were also considered to be their competition at the peak of their careers.

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Lelee of SWV comments on the Verzuz

Not only is being part of a Verzuz battle great for the culture, it will also give the featured artists a major boost in their music sales and streams. Jill Scott and Erykah Badu saw their streams triple after their battle on May 9, whilst Babyface saw his Instagram followers rocket from a modest 420k to 1.1 million, after his rescheduled battle with Teddy Riley on April 20. This is now known as the Verzuz effect.

A lot of people call it battles — we’re battling enough in the world today“, Swizz Beats said about the Verzuz series. “Let’s flip it around by celebrating each other with these amazing songs that changed the world“.

Who do you think TLC should do a Verzuz battle with? Vote below!