Rozanda “Chilli” Thomas, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and Tionee “T-Boz” Watkins were all living in Atlanta, Ga., supporting themselves through such jobs as fast-food server and hair-stylist before their big break into super-stardom. The girls were “discovered” by singer/producer Perri “Pebbles” Reid and R&B artist Dallas Austin, who immediately signed the girls on to a management contract. Pebbitone, which was Reid’s production company, linked the girls to LaFace Records, where they signed a recording contract. Austin and Pebbles took it upon themselves to create the public persona for the then-twenty-year-old women, even though they may not have the girls’ best interests in mind. In 1991, TLC released their debut album, Ooooooohhh….On the TLC TIP.
The album proved to be quite a success as it climbed straight to the Billboard Top Ten and eventually would top record sales of 4 million in the U.S.. Many people did not take thetlc picture, t boz girls seriously, as critics saw them as mere pretty faces and not much more. However, there was no denying that the trio had garnered the support of American hip-hoppers—seeing past their “gimmicky” image. Three years after their debut, TLC released their second album together —-this time around they had completely changed their image and had experienced many other internal/external changes as well. The group received much bad publicity after Lopes set Andre Rison’s (her then love interest) $861,000 home on fire and proceeded to crack the windows of the few cars in the immediate area. Lopes was forced to pay $10,000 in fines even though the pair were back together in a matter of days, and was placed on five years probation with mandatory rehab because she revealed that she had a drinking problem. CrazySexyCool was released in November 1994, featuring an older and more mature TLC. The rap songs from the first album were absent this tlc picture, left eyetime—with a more traditional R&B sound. The album, produced by Austin, Babyface and Sean “Puffy” Combs, launched three #1 singles (“Creep”, “Red Light Special” and “Waterfalls”). In time, TLC’s record sales exceeded 10 million copies and the group was nominated for quite a few notable music awards; Grammys for Best R&B Album and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or group, MTV Video Music Award trophies for Best Group Video and a Viewer’s Choice Award…all for their song, “Waterfalls”.
As things had taken off quite remarkably for the group, within a year after the release of CrazySexyCool, TLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, in debt for almost 4 million dollars. Since their musical careers would have to take a temporary hiatus, TLC’stlc picture, chili artists were able to spend more time on individual/personal ventures. T-Boz began speaking as a spokesperson for National Sickle Cell Association, was featured in the film Belly, co-started a line of clothing, wrote a poetry book and is still in the process of making a cartoon. Chilli gave birth to a son, and captured a part in the movie Hav Plenty. Left Eye decided to stay in the public light and became the host for the MTV Talent Show, “The Cut”. She also started a record company (Left Eye Productions), and has finished her first solo album. The girls’ third album, Fan Mail, was released in February 1999—they consider this their most personal work to date, as it carries undertones of the trials and tribulations that each of them has incurred during their time together. Fans will see much more of TLC in the future, and after a three-year break….we are looking forward to having them back!!!