TLC does it again

By Reggie Hubbard

In 1991, LaFace records changed the face of popular music with the introduction of an all female group specializing in a hip-hop based rhythm and blues.

Their experiment proved successful with the release of the multiplatinum effort, "Oohhhhhh ... On the TLC Tip." The album featured the young all female trio -- Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes and Rozanda "Chili" Thomas -- adorned in rugged street gear with condoms as accessories.

TLC wooed us with "Baby, Baby, Baby," told us about our "Friends, "and demonstrated their female assertiveness (something that I didn't particularly mind) by telling us, "If I need it in the mornin' or the middle of the night, 'I Ain't Too Proud to Beg.'"

The success of "Oohhhhhh ... " surpassed the supremacy of then divas En Vogue and paved the way for other all female singing groups such as SWV (Sisters With Voices), Jade, Xscape and Zhané.

These groups also enjoyed moderate success. In the midst of the popularity of these groups, loyal fans began to ask what happened to the talented and unabashedly sensual trio from Atlanta, Ga.

In 1993, TLC released the popular single "Get It Up" on the "Poetic Justice" soundtrack. The song showed TLC at their up-tempo best, but most people, -- myself included -- began to ask, "Where is the second album?"

In late 1994, TLC released their sophomore effort, "CrazySexyCool," thereby reasserting their rightful place as queens (or divas if you please) of the music scene.

TLC returns with the same sensuality, this time tempered with maturity and the musical genius of such artists as Babyface and Sean "Puffy" Combs.

"CrazySexyCool" has guest stars Jermaine Dupri (producer of Da Brat and Kris Kross), Phife (A Tribe Called Quest), Outkast and Busta Rhymes (Leaders of the New School).

These rappers, combined with good mid-tempo songs and amazing slow jams, make "CrazySexyCool" a listening delight.

As I listened to the album, I wondered, what makes a woman "crazysexycool"? In the second interlude, T-Boz defines the crazysexycool woman as a woman who can chill with her man and when the time comes, she can whip her thing on.

In the "Can I Get a Witness -- Interlude," Busta Rhymes attests that a crazysexycool woman will rip another's face off for her man. This may seem a bit extreme, but the woman who is crazysexycool will do whatever it takes to keep what she wants.

In the song "Creep," we see the story of a woman who still achieves satisfaction even though she has been neglected by her man, . Despite his lies, she remains with him, but when he isn't around she knows how and where to "get her groove on." As sung by T-Boz, "If he knew the things I did / He couldn't handle it / And so I choose to keep him protected ... "

The crazysexycool woman demands attention and affection. When her needs are not met, she knows how to fulfill them. In the song "Switch," Left Eye says what she does when a man begins to take her for granted or does not trust her. "If your man starts actin' up, switch and take his friend -- Erase, Replace, Embrace New Face."

"Crazysexycool" is an amazing album. The only weakness that could be seen in the album are the many interludes. But at the same time, the interludes provide excellent segues between songs and impart knowledge on what it is to be crazysexycool.

In the case of the Sexy interlude, Chili unexpectedly provides comic relief (somewhat disappointing for male listeners).

In every sense of the word, TLC is 'CrazySexyCool.'