ABOVE PHOTO: TLC’s T-Boz and Chilli in the press room for The MOBO awards. (Picture by: Henry Harris/Shutterstock)
By Mesfin Fekadu
NEW YORK — For T-Boz and Chilli, TLC is a marriage and divorce is not an option.
The top-selling girl group is released its final album on Friday. Although they don’t plan to record new music, “That doesn’t mean we’re done though. That doesn’t mean we won’t do a residency in Vegas,” T-Boz said.
“We have a body of work and when you (have) timeless songs like ‘Waterfalls’ and ‘No Scrubs’ and ‘Unpretty,’ you should be able to (tour), you know. The white rock bands do it all the time. Why can’t we?”
Of the potential Vegas residency, Chilli said: “We’ve had some people come and reach out, but it just got to be right.”
For now they are focused on “TLC,” their fifth album and first in 15 years. They recorded the project over the last two years. It features Snoop Dogg, a song sampling Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September,” producer Ron Fair and help from T-Boz’s brother, songwriter-producer Carnoy “Ayo Kayo” Watkins.
In an interview with The Associated Press, TLC talked about their music, dating while in a girl group, Beyonce, Ed Sheeran and the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes.
Haters gone hate
TLC, which launched a Kickstarter fund in 2015 to raise money for their final album, earned more than $430,000, though they initially asked for $150,000.
“We were in disbelief,” Chilli said. “We were so shocked.”
Katy Perry and thousands of fans donated to the project, which thrilled the band. That was in contrast to the reaction the group received when Left Eye died in 2002, T-Boz said.
“When Lisa first passed, so many people, especially ones you wouldn’t think would turn on us, kind of counted us out, but her passing didn’t really hinder our ability to sing and dance, and our talent didn’t leave, we just lost a group member,” she said. “So you find your new normal and you put it back together and to see that people believed in us touched my heart the most.”
Beyonce’ fan girl moment
TLC has big fans in artists like Drake and Lady Gaga, but Beyonce’s fan girl moment really surprised T-Boz and Chilli.
The group said Queen Bey showed her love to the veteran girl group at the season 10 finale of “American Idol” in 2011.
“This is the first time this ever happened. Like, she just rolled up on us and was like, ‘Thank you for everything,’” Chilli said.
“’That was some of the best times of my life’ is what she said,” T-Boz added.
“We were like, ‘Oh really? Never knew that! People said that she said stuff like that in interviews, I just didn’t know. … That was like real humbling and just like, ‘Wow, really? OK girl!’”
The group also has a fan in rapper J. Cole, and they collaborated on the 2013 hit, “Crooked Smile.” Cole almost worked on a song for the new album.
“We ran out of time ‘cause we would have had a song with J. Cole. … He wanted to do one authentically from scratch,” T-Boz said.
TLC has been known for its loud and outspoken videos, from the futuristic outfits in “No Scrubs” to the condom eye patches in “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg.”
But they said the video for the No. 1 hit “Creep” – the first single on their 1994 sophomore album, “CrazySexyCool” – was filmed three times.
“We didn’t like them; scrapped them and started again. … We were like, ‘If we come back out, we need to make a statement,’” T-Boz said. “It wasn’t strong.”
Then the group watched the video for Salt-N-Pepa and En Vogue’s “Whatta Man.”
“And Lisa turned (around) … and I remember her going, ‘That’s what it should look like it,’” recalled T-Boz, imitating Lisa’s squeaky voice. “And then we were like, ‘Yeah!’”
“It just came together and it was like we evolved into these women instead of these little girls. We had a little more sex appeal.”
The group also said they shot the video for 1992’s “What About Your Friends” twice.