by Jan Peters

Although at presstime their latest LP,CrazySexyCool had not been released, TLC's expected effect on the sound of '94 was predicted to be strong. Here, then, is a look back on the group which defined the music of a number of "girl groups" who followed in their wake . . .

debut LP: Ooooooohhh On the TLC Tip

Stuffed with hot, hit singles, such as "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg," the album's first release, which placed TLC firmly on the road to platinum, Ooooooohhh On the TLC Tip set a precedent with it's bold, outspoken message of aggressive female sexuality. 20 year olds who look like 16 year olds, TLC's mode of dress, however, was anything but overtly sexual. Baggy, streetwise clothes defined their look, but the point the group was making was that yet, teenagers were out there having sex, and it was time to make them aware of the responsibilities and consequences of that action. In that effort, group members included the wearing of condoms as accessories with their outfits to inject humor into the situation. "The reality is that many of them are doing it, and we want them to be careful." said Lisa Lopes, a.k.a. Left Eye, wearing condoms over her eye.

we are who we are: feminism TLC style

TLC's lyrics showed a determination to have women free themselves from the labels given to those who dare to assert themselves sexually. On "His Story," T-Boz delivered a line which states, "Why does it have to be that we get labeled for what we do/It's hard enough for us to be ourselves without being used." Ironically, involved in an abusive relationship in her offstage life, Lisa Lopes and crew sang about women being independent enough to leave abusive relationships in two songs on the group's debut LP, "Bad By Myself," and "Depend On Myself." Still, the message was a call for women to look within themselves for answers instead of depending on a man who might not be good for them.

film action: House Party 3

TLC made their feature debut in House Party 3 as a trio of zany recording artist wannabes who all but steal the show in their scenes. Lisa Lopes in particular showed a nice comedic flair.

problems, problems

The most high-profile member of the group, Lisa Lopes' notoriety came late in '94 after a series of public arrests for fighting between her and boyfriend Andre Rison, of the Atlanta Falcons. The last arrest came when Lopes was charged with setting fire to Rison's $850,000 mansion and breaking the windows in several of his cars. In addition, TLC changed its management when they elected to leave Pebbles, their first manager, and decided on Hiriam Hicks. "The first time around, we were more or less taking direction," said Lopes in a YSB interview. "We were the ones sitting back watching everybody trying to see how things worked. All we knew to do was what we were told. Once you realize this is not just a dream come true, this is actually your career, your life, that's when you start taking it more seriously. That's when you want to be in charge so nobody messes up."

and now . . .

"Coming out this time was a lot harder than the first time," said Rozonda Thomas, a.k.a. Chilli, in YSB. "When you're a new group and you make it, it's hard a second time because you have to be accepted again. Everybody's going to criticize you even more, because they want to say, 'They ain't nothing but a fad. Can they do it again?' You've got to remain strong and not let the business overwhelm you."

From Word Up! Magazine

July 1994