Five of the Best: TLC
This Friday will mark the official comeback of TLC. Fans worldwide have been waiting a long time for this moment – their last album, 3D – was released in 2002, just a few months after Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes’ tragic and untimely passing. Not only does this year mark the comeback of the group, it also marks the 25th anniversary of their remarkable breakthrough album Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip. TLC’s debut album was playful, unapologetic and affirming for young women – particularly young women across the black diaspora.
TLC’s ability to be crazy, sexy and cool through their music is why they are, and always will be, one of the greatest girl groups of all time.
With the release of their new album just days away, it’s only right that we prepare ourselves by delving into the TLC archives. Let’s be fair: their back catalogue is strong with an endless amount of vibes. But here are five reasons for you to set your alarm for 00:00 on June 30.
‘Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg’ by TLC
TLC’s first ever single. It’s fun, it’s playful and it conveys everything we absolutely adore about the 90s. The music video – bold for its time – features T‑Boz, Left Eye and Chili wearing condoms attached to their baggy clothes. TLC sing about the societal pressures that young women feel when it comes to being sexually active, but also highlight the importance of women recognising that they have agency over their own bodies and can do exactly what they want with it.
If you want a real treat, check out ‘Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg (Smoothed Down Remix)’. Thank me later.
‘Creep’ by TLC
‘Creep’ was the lead single from TLC’s second album, CrazySexyCool. Produced and written by long-time collaborator Dallas Austin, the iconic change in musical style and image marked a huge reinvention in TLC’s career. With the release of ‘Creep’, TLC showed the world that they were no longer girls – they were women.
‘Diggin’ on You’ by TLC
It’s a sunny Sunday afternoon in July, you have your friends around and you’re enjoying a few anthems whilst chilling with some rum punch – or in TLC’s case – “chilling with some Kool-Aid”. ‘Diggin’ On You’ begins to play and you have a spot of déjà vu. It is at that very moment that you realise this is exactly what it means to be “like peace in a groove”. TLC weren’t lying.
‘Waterfalls’ by TLC
Moving away from the chilled vibes is a track that is heavy, with an important message. ‘Waterfalls’ is one of TLC’s biggest tracks – if not, the biggest. It references many issues that plagued the 90s – namely, HIV/AIDs, and it was the first number-one song to ever reference this issue. Left Eye’s rap is one of the best rap features on an R&B song. And with its calm but desperate horns, memorable chorus and drum line, this song is one of the greatest R&B tracks of all time.
‘No Scrubs’ by TLC
Before Destiny’s Child’s ‘Independent Women’, there was TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’. And no list would be complete without it. Released in 1999, after the group had been away for four years, it was basically them saying, “We’re still the best of all time – in case y’all forgot”. They were the queens of reinvention and if there’s any TLC track that portrays this, it is ‘No Scrubs’.
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Image: Sony Music/PR