While there have been many incredible girl groups to grace the MTV screen, one will always stand out above the rest, especially for ‘90s kids. TLC’s fame stemmed from their urban roots, vocal talent and feisty media presence; they are the second best-selling girl group of all time, following close behind the Spice Girls.
Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and Rozanda “Chilli” Thomas formed TLC in Atlanta, Georgia in 1991. They recorded four multiplatinum albums, and the 1994 album CrazySexyCool is the only album by a female group to receive diamond certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). They were highly influential in the music industry, paving the way for groups like Destiny’s Child, En Vogue and 3LW.
While they recorded the hits, TLC also held strong to what they believed in, almost to a fault. Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes was known to be the “crazy” one, and that was evident when she burned down her then-boyfriend’s mansion allegedly because she had been enduring months of physical abuse at his hand. She also came up with the plan to break into the girls’ studio, Arista Records. Under extremely exploitive recording contracts, TLC remained in their debt even after the album sales from CrazySexyCool earned 75 million dollars. Lopes encouraged the group to take their records and merchandise back from the studio and hold Clive Davis, the manager, at gunpoint and demand their money; he did end up changing their contracts slightly. Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins spoke out after the incident, discouraging others from committing the same act: “I wouldn’t say do what we did… thank God we didn’t go to jail. Educate yourself. Learn about the business you’re getting into.”
TLC stood up for themselves in an industry and world that tried to treat them as lesser than they were, but they also stood up for others. Lopes received the nickname “Left Eye” because in the early music videos she would tape a condom over her eye to promote safe sex. Their fans praised them for being willing to discuss the importance of contraception and the impact of AIDS. One of their most loved songs “Waterfalls” is actually in honour of AIDS victims, and they had to fight to get the money for the video because their studio did not agree with the message. They later became spokespersons for HIV/AIDS awareness.
Here are 10 of the best TLC lyrics that promote believing in your dreams and staying true to yourself.
“You can buy your hair if it won’t grow, you can fix your nose if you say so. You can buy all the makeup that M.A.C can make. But if you can look inside you, find out who am I to be in a position to make me feel so damn unpretty.” – Unpretty, TLC
“Well you want my heart and all my time, well it won’t be there if you can’t deal with my mind. ‘Cause a girl like me won’t stand for less, I require plenty of conversation with my sex.” – Baby, Baby, Baby, TLC
“Every now and then I get a little crazy, that’s not the way it’s supposed to be. Sometimes my vision is a little hazy, I can’t tell who I should trust or just who I let trust me.” – What About Your Friends, TLC
“Don’t go chasing waterfalls, please stick to the rivers and the lakes that you’re used to. I know that you’re gonna have it your way or nothing at all, but I think you’re moving too fast.” – Waterfalls, TLC
“Well is it me or can it be I’m a little too friendly, so to speak hypothetically say I supply creativity to what others must take as a form of self-hate only to make an enemy, which results in unfortunate destiny. They dog me out then be next to me, just ’cause I am what some chose to envy.” – What About Your Friends, TLC
“Being that I am the kind of girl I am, nobody can make me do what I don’t want to. I can be myself a lot and I’m proud of what I got, so I’ll never change for you.” – Hat 2 Da Back, TLC
“Dear lie, you’re dumb. You think you’ve got the best of me, you think you’ve won, misread my vulnerability.” –Dear Lie, TLC
“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. Girls have an image too, but when they’re mad at you there’s no telling what they’ll say to hurt you.” – His Story, TLC
“Goodbye, goodbye to all the fake people in my life. I never wanted you around me, so be on your way now. You better think twice before you let people in your life.” – Case of the Fake People, TLC
“Dreams are hopeless aspirations in hopes of coming true, believe in yourself, the rest is up to me and you.” – Waterfalls, TLC
Author: Selena Doner
Selena Doner is a freelance journalist who is passionate about environmental issues, social justice, arts and culture, and travel.