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TLC is an American girl group whose original line-up consisted of Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas. Formed in Atlanta, Georgia in 1991, the group was very successful during the 1990s and early 2000s in spite of numerous spats with the law, each other, and the group's record label and management. They scored nine top-ten hits on the Billboard Hot 100, including four number-one singles "Creep", "Waterfalls", "No Scrubs", and "Unpretty". The group also recorded four multi platinum albums, including CrazySexyCool (1994) which still remains the only album by a female group to receive a diamond certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). TLC also became the first R&B group in history to receive Million certification from the Recording Industry Association of Japan (RIAJ) for FanMail (1999).
Having sold over 65 million records worldwide, TLC is the best-selling American girl group of all time and second to the Spice Girls. VH1 ranked TLC as the greatest female group, placing them at number 12 on the list of 100 Greatest Women in Music. Billboard magazine ranked TLC as one of the greatest musical trios, as well as the seventh most successful act of the 1990s. The group's accolades include five career Grammy Awards, five MTV Video Music Awards and five Soul Train Music Awards. Twenty years after their debut, TLC was honored with Outstanding Contribution to Music at the 17th MOBO Awards and Legend Award at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards Japan. All three members of TLC are considered irreplaceable by the other members, and each of them have contributed equally to the group. Following Lopes' death in 2002, instead of replacing her, the remaining members chose to carry on as a duo. In 2017, they are set to release their final album as TLC, but have clarified that they will not split up following the album's release and will continue to perform together.
1990–91: Formation and early years
In 1990, Atlanta, Georgia–based record producer Ian Burke and one of his clients, a teenager named Crystal Jones, came up with a concept for a girl group with a tomboyish, hip-hop image, similar to the blend of contemporary R&B and hip hop music of new jack swing act Bell Biv DeVoe. Jones put out a call for two more girls to join her in this trio. Her request was eventually answered by Tionne Watkins, a native of Des Moines, Iowa, who had moved to Atlanta with her family at a young age, and Lisa Lopes, a rapper who had just moved to the city from her native Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with a small keyboard and $750 ($1,375 today). Calling the group 2nd Nature, Jones, Watkins, and Lopes began working with producers Jermaine Dupri and Rico Wade on demo tape material.
Through a connection at the hair salon where Watkins worked the group eventually managed to arrange an audition with singer Perri "Pebbles" Reid, who had started her own management and production company, Pebbitone. Impressed by the girls, Reid renamed the group TLC-Skee, with "TLC" being an Initialism for the names Tionne, Lisa, and Crystal. Reid arranged an audition for them with local record label LaFace Records, run by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and Reid's then-husband, Antonio "L.A." Reid.
Antonio Reid saw potential in Watkins and Lopes as performers, but felt that Jones should be replaced. According to Jones, things began to unravel for her after Pebbles denied the group the opportunity to take home the contracts that Pebbitone had drafted. Jones did not want to sign before having the contract reviewed by others and perhaps a lawyer. In contrast, Watkins' recollection of Jones' departure is that both she and Lopes asked Jones to leave the group before their initial contracts were negotiated.
On February 28, 1991, Watkins and Lopes signed production, management, and publishing deals with Pebbitone, with Perri Reid becoming their general manager. As they looked for a replacement for Jones, the two-member TLC-Skee made its first recorded appearance on a track for LaFace act Damian Dame's self-titled 1991 LP. Pebbles found the third member in Rozonda Thomas, one of Damian Dame's part-time backup dancers.
Thomas was signed to the act in April 1991, at about which time the group's name was shortened to TLC. To maintain TLC's name as an acronym for the girls' names, Watkins became "T-Boz," Lopes became "Left-Eye," and Thomas became "Chilli." The girls were then signed to LaFace in May through the production deal with Pebbitone; their records would be distributed by Arista Records/BMG. TLC was immediately set up to go into the studio with Reid and Edmonds, Dallas Austin, Jermaine Dupri, and Marley Marl producing their first album. The new trio debuted as backing vocalists on "Rebel (With a Cause)," a track on Jermaine Jackson's sole album for LaFace, You Said (1991).
1992–93: Ooooooohhh... On the TLC Tip and early success
Their debut album, Ooooooohhh... On the TLC Tip, was released on February 25, 1992, by LaFace/Arista Records. The songs on the album are a blend of funk (Watkins), hip-hop (Lopes), and R&B (Thomas), similar to the "new jack swing" sound popularized by producer Teddy Riley in the late 1980s (and TLC's sound was sometimes cited as an example of the "new jack swing" genre). The album was a critical and commercial success, being certified quadruple-platinum for shipments of four million copies in the United States. It scored three top-ten singles on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg", "Baby-Baby-Baby" (peaked at number two), and "What About Your Friends", as well as the top 30 single "Hat 2 Da Back".
TLC's debut album, chiefly written by Dallas Austin and Lisa Lopes, consisted of playful lyrics, with some female-empowering songs. It was characterized by Watkins' low-register contralto vocals, Thomas's higher-register mezzo-soprano vocals, and Lopes's quirky soprano raps. The musical formula was augmented by the girls' brightly colored videos and curious costuming: each girl wore wrapped condoms on their clothing (Lopes also wore one over her left eye in a pair of glasses).
During TLC's first national tour, as MC Hammer's opening act, Lopes and Thomas discovered that Watkins had sickle-cell anemia, an ailment which she kept a closely guarded secret until she became very ill while TLC was touring the Southwest US. Watkins continued to battle her condition and eventually became a spokesperson for the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America in the late 1990s. She was hospitalized, Lopes and Thomas stayed with her and some concerts were cancelled. At the conclusion of the tour, TLC—who had received very little money up to this point—decided to take more control of their careers and thus informed Pebbles that they no longer wished her to be their manager. Reid released the group from its management deal, but they remained signed to Pebbitone, and Reid continued to receive a share of their earnings. Also in 1994, TLC played the musical group "Sex as a Weapon" in the New Line Cinema feature film House Party 3, starring Kid 'n Play.
Lopes began dating Atlanta Falcons American football player Andre Rison shortly after the release of Oooohhh... On the TLC Tip, and by 1994 the two were living together in Rison's upscale double-story home. Their relationship was allegedly filled with violent moments, and Lopes filed an assault charge against Rison on September 2, 1993. Rison denied battering her. Lopes was also battling alcoholism at the time. She had been a heavy drinker since the age of fifteen. After another fight between the couple in the early morning hours of June 9, 1994, Lopes tossed numerous pairs of Rison's newly purchased shoes into a bathtub, doused them with lighter fluid, and lit them on fire. The fiberglass bathtub quickly melted and set the structural frame of the house on fire. Lopes was arrested and indicted on charges of first-degree arson; she was sentenced to five years of probation and a $10,000 fine. Rison eventually reconciled with Lopes, and they continued dating on and off for seven years.
1994–97: CrazySexyCool, career height and bankruptcy
TLC's second studio album, CrazySexyCool saw the group reunited with producers Dallas Austin, Babyface and Jermaine Dupri, as well as new collaborators Organized Noize, Chucky Thompson and Sean "Puffy" Combs. Lopes was released from rehab to attend the recording sessions, but the finished album featured significantly less of her raps and vocals. An R&B and hip hop soul album, CrazySexyCool featured hip-hop beats, funk, deep grooves, propulsive rhythms and smooth production Released on November 15, 1994, CrazySexyCool was critically acclaimed, with Rolling Stone ranking it among the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. CrazySexyCool debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 and spent over two years on the chart. The album sold over 11 million copies in the United States alone and still remains the only album by a female singing group in history to receive diamond certification from the RIAA. With worldwide sales exceeding 23 million copies, CrazySexyCool became one of the best selling album by a girl group and was later only outsold by the Spice Girls' Spice (1996).
All four singles from CrazySexyCool reached the top five on the Billboard Hot 100—"Creep" and "Waterfalls" peaked at number one, "Red Light Special" reached number two and "Diggin' on You" reached number five. "Waterfalls", an Organized Noise-produced song that features an old-school soul-based musical arrangement, socially conscious lyrics criticizing drug dealing and unsafe sex, and an introspective rap from Lopes, became the biggest hit of TLC's career. Its million-dollar music video was an MTV staple for many months and made TLC the first black artist to win MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year. At the 38th Grammy Awards, TLC took home Best R&B Album and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group for "Creep". Billboard also crowned TLC as the Artist of the Year at the 1996 Billboard Music Awards.
In the midst of their apparent success, the members of TLC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on July 3, 1995. TLC declared debts totaling $3.5 million, some of it due to Lopes' insurance payments arising from the arson incident and Watkins' medical bills, but the primary reason being that the group received what they called a less than favorable deal from Pebbitone. After Arista Records, LaFace, and Pebbitone recouped their investment for recording costs and manufacturing and distribution (common recoupable charges in most record contracts), both Pebbitone and LaFace Records went on to charge for expenses such as airline travel, hotels, promotion, music videos, food, clothing, and other expenses. According to the members of TLC, ironically, the more successful the album became, the more they were in debt. In addition to this, managers, lawyers, producers, and taxes had to be paid, leaving each member of the group with less than $50,000 a year after having sold millions upon millions of albums.
TLC sought to renegotiate their 1991 contract with LaFace, under which they received only .56 cents (split three ways) per album sold —considerably less than most major label recording contracts. They received less for each single sold. TLC also wanted to dissolve their association with Pebbitone. LaFace Records refused to renegotiate their deal midway through the contract, thus prompting TLC to file a bankruptcy petition. Both Pebbitone and LaFace countered that TLC simply wanted more money and were in no real financial danger, resulting in two years of legal debates before the cases were finally settled in late 1996. TLC's contract was renegotiated with LaFace, and Pebbitone agreed to let them out of their production/management deal in exchange for Pebbitone receiving a percentage of royalties on some future releases. By this time, Pebbles had separated from her husband. TLC also bought the rights to the name TLC, which was previously owned by Pebbles.
TLC recorded the theme song to Nickelodeon's popular sketch comedy All That which was produced and co-written by Arnold Hennings which ran for ten seasons. The group appeared on the soundtrack album of the Forest Whitaker's 1995 film Waiting to Exhale with "This Is How It Works" (a song written by Babyface and Lopes) and was set to re-enter the recording studio the following year after signing a new contract with LaFace and with distribution handled by Arista. Watkins began to release her solo effort with "Touch Myself", a single from the soundtrack album of 1996 film Fled; It reached the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100. Lopes also collaborated with fellow female rappers Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott, Da Brat and Angie Martinez on Lil' Kim's single "Not Tonight". It peaked at number six on the Hot 100 and was nominated for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group at the 40th Grammy Awards.
1998–2001: FanMail and members feud
Preliminary work on TLC's third studio album was delayed when friction arose between the group and their main producer Dallas Austin, who was by this time dating Thomas and helping to raise their young son Tron. Austin wanted $4.2 million and creative control to work on the project, resulting in a stand-off between the producer and the artists. During this period, Thomas appeared in the independent film HavPlenty, while Watkins co-starred with rappers Nas and DMX in Hype Williams's 1998 film Belly. Lopes started her own production company, Left-Eye Productions, and signed Blaque, a female R&B trio. Under her guidance, Blaque released their 1999 self-titled debut album which was certified platinum and contained two top-ten singles on the Billboard Hot 100. Lopes also hosted the short-lived MTV talent series The Cut (1998) which featured then-unknown recording artists Ne-Yo and Anastacia. TLC eventually began working with other producers for their third album, until finally negotiating with Austin, who produced the bulk of the album. Lopes always had an idea of a futuristic-feel for the project, which Austin incorporated into the album. Titled FanMail, the album was released in February 1999 to another critical and commercial success. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart and was certified six-time platinum by the RIAA for six million copies shipped in the United States, and worldwide sales exceed 14 million copies. "No Scrubs" was released as the lead single and became a worldwide hit, topping the singles chart in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the United States. The album's second single, "Unpretty", became TLC's fourth number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100. The other three singles also received decent radio play: "Silly Ho", "I'm Good at Being Bad", and Edmonds-written ballad, "Dear Lie".
At the 42nd Grammy Awards, FanMail received eight nominations, and won three awards: Best R&B Album, Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, the last two for "No Scrubs". At the Lady of Soul Awards the group was honored with the Aretha Franklin Entertainer of the Year Award. The group went on a worldwide tour, the FanMail Tour, which grossed more than $72.8 million and became the highest grossing tour by a female group. The group had a PayPerView special of their tour which at the time became PayPerView's highest grossing televised special.
During and after the release of FanMail, Lopes made it known to the press on multiple occasions that she felt that she was unable to fully express herself in TLC. Her contributions to songs had been reduced to periodic eight-bar raps, and there were several songs in which she had no vocals. Studio session singers such as Debra Killings often sang background vocals for the group's songs, something Lopes also wanted to do on songs in which she didn't rap. In late 1999, Vibe Magazine published a letter written by Lopes that challenged her groupmates Watkins and Thomas to all record solo albums and see which album performed the best:
"I challenge Tionne "Player" Watkins (T-boz) and Rozonda "Hater" Thomas (Chilli) to an album entitled The Challenge... a 3-CD set that contains three solo albums. Each (album)... will be due to the record label by October 1, 2000... I also challenge producer Dallas "The Manipulator" Austin to produce all of the material and do it at a fraction of his normal rate. As I think about it, I'm sure LaFace would not mind throwing in a $1.5 million prize for the winner."
The ladies eventually settled the feud, and The Challenge was never taken up. After the conclusion of the successful FanMail tour, the ladies took some time off and pursued personal interests. Lopes was the first to begin recording her solo album, Supernova. The album was released in Europe and the first -and only single- "The Block Party" reached the Top 20 on the UK Singles Chart. The song was released in the United States a few weeks prior to the scheduled album release. However, when the song did not perform well, the album's release was canceled for North America and no further singles were promoted. In 2000, Spice Girls member Melanie C collaborated with Lopes on the single "Never Be the Same Again"; it became an international hit reaching number one in many countries.
2002–06: Lopes' death, 3D and R U The Girl
Following the unsuccessful debut solo album, Supernova, Lopes started working on a second solo album. On April 25, 2002, before the album was completed, Lopes died in a car crash while filming a documentary in Honduras, which would later be released as The Last Days of Left Eye in 2007 on VH1. After taking a hiatus following Lopes' death, Watkins, Thomas, and Austin decided that they would complete the remainder of their fourth album, to be called 3D, which also featured production from Rodney Jerkins, The Neptunes, Raphael Saadiq, Missy Elliott and Timbaland. A decision was also made that TLC would retire after the release and promotion of 3D, rather than replace Lopes and continue as a group. However, ultimately they chose to carry on as a duo. Lopes appears vocally on 3D as she had already completed her vocals for two songs for the new album. Another two other songs featured her vocals from previously unreleased songs. Several of the songs eulogized Lopes. "3D" was released on November 12, 2002.
Upon its release, 3D debuted at number six on the Billboard 200 and was certified two times platinum by the RIAA for two million shipped in the United States. It failed to generate success overseas, with exception of Japan where it reached number two and achieved platinum from the RIAJ for 200,000 copies sold. The album's lead single, "Girl Talk", peaked at number 28 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it their lowest-charting lead single ever. Its music video featured Watkins and Thomas alone in live-action segments and Lopes in animated segments. It was followed with "Hands Up", which became their first single not to enter the Hot 100 chart (peaking at number seven on the Bubbling Under R&B/Hip-Hop Singles), and "Damaged", which reached number 53 on the Hot 100.
In June 2003, more than a year since the death of Lopes, at Zootopia, an annual concert hosted by New York radio station Z100 held at Giants Stadium, TLC appeared in what was announced to be their last performance. The group, introduced by Carson Daly, showed a video montage dedicated to Lopes, and went on to perform songs against video footage of Lopes performing the same songs, and wearing the same outfits, that were appearing onstage. Nevertheless, TLC made a comeback in February 2004 as a featured artist on a Japanese charity single entitled VOICE OF LOVE POSSE with other Japanese artists. In 2003, LaFace released the first TLC's greatest hits album entitled Now & Forever: The Hits with a new song, "Come Get Some", featuring Lil Jon and Sean P of the YoungBloodZ. However, the compilation was not released in the United States until June 2005. The album debuted at number 53 with 20,000 copies sold.
On June 25, 2004, Watkins and Thomas announced that they were pitching a reality television show that was eventually picked up for development by UPN. R U the Girl with Watkins and Thomas debuted on UPN on July 27, 2005. Despite media speculation that the winner of the series was to become a new, permanent member of TLC, Watkins and Thomas have vowed to never replace Lopes with a new member. The winner of the show, 20-year-old Tiffany "O'so Krispie" Baker, recorded with Watkins and Thomas on a new song, "I Bet", and perform it together in a live concert finale in Atlanta. Roughly 4.1 million viewers tuned in for the season finale of R U The Girl on September 20, 2005. "I Bet" was released to radio and iTunes on October 4, 2005, but failed to make onto the charts. The song later became a bonus track on Now & Forever: The Hits.
2007–14: Hiatus and CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story
On August 20, 2007, a new greatest hits album was released in the UK called Crazy Sexy Hits: The Very Best of TLC. The album fared better than previous compilation Now & Forever: The Hits, peaking at number 57 on the UK Albums Chart. On June 24, 2008, Watkins and Thomas made a special appearance on the BET Awards. They, along with the original members of En Vogue and SWV, performed in Alicia Keys' tribute to girl groups. On April 4, 2009, the group performed a 13-song set in Japan during the 2009 Springroove music festival. On October 17, 2009, TLC performed their set to the 10,000 audience at the Justin Timberlake and Friends benefit concert, held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in the Las Vegas Valley, U.S. On May 25, 2011, TLC also performed for the season finale of American Idol.
In 2012, Watkins and Thomas appeared in British pop group Stooshe's music video for their cover version of "Waterfalls". It was later be included in Totally T-Boz, a docu-series chronicling Watkins's move to California, health issues and solo endeavors. Stooshe later performed "Waterfalls" at the 17th annual MOBO Awards on November 3, 2012, where TLC was honored with Outstanding Contribution to Music. On June 23, 2013, TLC received the Legend Award at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards Japan, at which they also performed a medley of their hit singles. On June 19, 2013, to celebrate their 20th anniversary in the music industry, the group released a Japan-exclusive compilation album entitled TLC 20: 20th Anniversary Hits, which includes remastered versions of their old songs; as a gift for their Japanese fans, they also recorded a new version of "Waterfalls", enlisting Japanese singer Namie Amuro to sing Lopes's part. The decision to record with Amuro was raised as an issue by Lopes's family, who felt "betrayed", as they were not informed about the vocal replacement. Watkins and Thomas subsequently stated that they had been unable to gain clearance to use Lopes' vocals for the new version of the song, but that Lopes would've approved of having Amuro on the track.
TLC was featured on "Crooked Smile", the second single from American rapper J. Cole's 2013 album Born Sinner. It peaked at number 27 on the Billboard Hot 100, giving TLC their first top 40 hit in over a decade. The collaboration won the "Impact Track" award at the 2013 BET Hip Hop Awards and was nominated for MTV Video Music Award for Best Video with a Social Message at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards. TLC signed a new recording contract with Epic Records and released an American version of the compilation album 20 on October 15, 2013. The album included one new recording, "Meant to Be", written and produced by Ne-Yo. The song served as the soundtrack for CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story, a TLC biographical telefilm, which premiered on VH1 on October 21, 2013. Directed by Charles Stone III, the film starred Keke Palmer as Thomas, Lil Mama as Lopes and Drew Sidora as Watkins. The film uses the newly rearranged songs from TLC 20: 20th Anniversary Hits. The premiere broadcast garnered 4.5 million viewers, a five-year ratings high for VH1. In November 2013, TLC had three albums charting on the Billboard 200 including 20 at number 12, CrazySexyCool at number 108 and Now and Forever: The Hits at number 169.
On November 24, 2013, TLC performed a highly anticipated rendition of "Waterfalls" at the 2013 American Music Awards, with Lil Mama delivering Lopes's part, including the rap segment. Subsequently, TLC performed "No Scrubs" with Lil Mama on the Dancing With The Stars television show. In January 2014, TLC appeared at VH1's "Super Bowl Concert Series" performing at the Beacon Theater in New York City. TLC announced the first Australian tour of their career in April 2014 that will consist of shows in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth. The group will be performing a set of their hits & will include visual and vocal representation of Lopes for the performance. On December 12, 2014, TLC released a new Christmas song entitled "Gift Wrapped Kiss".
2015–present: Main Event Tour and final studio album
TLC have been working on their yet-untitled fifth studio album, set to be released in 2017. They have reportedly been working with producers such as Rock City and long-time collaborator Dallas Austin, as well as on a collaboration with pop star Lady Gaga for a song titled "Posh Life", which Gaga initially wrote with Austin for herself; however, Gaga proposed a collaboration with TLC, as the song was inspired by the group and Gaga felt it would be disrespectful for her to release the song, as it was akin to TLC's sound. Other confirmed track titles include "Pretty Little Scar" and "Breaking Bad". Other guest artists, such as Lil Mama, are expected to appear on the album.
On January 19, 2015, TLC announced their plan to release their fifth and final album with the launch of a Kickstarter campaign. They asked fans to help finance the project by donating a pledge of at least $5 to reach their goal of $150,000. In less than 48 hours, they surpassed their goal and become the "fastest most funded pop project in Kickstarter history". Among other artists who donated were New Kids on the Block (donating $10,000), Katy Perry (donating $5,000), Soulja Boy, Bette Midler and Justin Timberlake. The Kickstarter campaign raised a total of $400,000. In an interview published following the end of the campaign, Watkins and Thomas clarified that they would never split up following the release and promotion of the album, and that they would continue to perform together as TLC.
In May 2015, TLC embarked on a North American tour with New Kids on the Block and Nelly titled The Main Event Tour. On September 24, 2015, the group announced via a blog post on their Kickstarter that the album would be released in 2017. They have petitioned Lisa Lopes' brother Ron Lopes for assistance with making Left Eye's presence on the album a possibility since she had an abundance of unreleased material. The update also stated that they would embark on a tour of their very own in 2016. On the groups' Kickstarter page, they have said that 12 songs needed to be finished and recording would end at the end of March. Watkins stated in an interview that they have written 36 songs for the album. On April 2, 2016, TLC announced that they have delayed the deadline for finishing recording for their fifth studio album. TLC's manager, Bill Diggins, confirmed that the album is definitely coming in 2017 and is at least 2/3 of the way complete already. He then went on to say that TLC is recording until they're happy with the project.
In June 2016, T-Boz announced that they had completed the album. Their manager said that 15 tracks were slated for a first quarter 2017 release. On September 21, Thomas was interviewed by Toronto music station 93-5 The Move about the new album. Thomas stated that they are possibly doing a song with rapper J.Cole. She was also asked if Left Eye will appear on the album by using unreleased raps, she states "Actually on the last album after she passed away we went through a lot of her raps and used those then. I don't think so because we've already done that."
On October 28, 2016, TLC released two new songs off of the new album called "Joyride" and "Haters" in Japan. The former hit number one on the iTunes R&B chart in Japan. For the first time ever, on December 8, 2016, TLC performed "Sleigh Ride" with surprise guest Missy Elliott along with their latest song "Sunny" on Taraji's White Hot Holidays, a holiday special on Fox hosted by actress Taraji P. Henson.
On March 1, 2017, it was announced that the group will indeed release their final studio album in the summer. It is rumored to have collaborations from Dallas Austin and Kandi Burruss.
Vibe believed that there would be no "all-black female R&B group having a chemistry, cultural and commercial impact as remotely comparable as TLC" and dubbed CrazySexyCool as "the blueprint for female ensembles to follow." The Philippine Daily Inquirer called TLC "the most influential female group the world has ever seen." Singer Beyoncé, the former lead singer of Destiny's Child stated that "TLC has influenced just about every female group that's out there now, and they definitely influenced Destiny's Child." Craig JC from Clutch wrote that TLC were "big and influential" during the 1990s, and that their contemporaries such as SWV, Total, Blaque, 3LW, Brownstone, 702, Jade, Xscape and En Vogue did not have TLC's crossover appeal." David A. Keeps from Rolling Stone explained the impact of TLC:
TLC's career has been filled with both hits and headlines. The group was one of the few R&B acts to build a strong identity out of its initial success, and they exerted more control over each successive record. Their music – particularly the 11-million-selling CrazySexyCool and the 6-million-selling FanMail, both of which won two Grammys each – set the standard for contemporary R&B. TLC helped to pioneer a deft blend of acoustic and computer sounds that paved the way for groups like Destiny's Child, as did their image as independent women. Whether addressing AIDS in "Waterfalls" or the struggle for female self-esteem in "Unpretty," they showed themselves able to take serious issues to the top of the pop charts.
TLC is the best-selling American girl group of all time with 65 million records sold worldwide. According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), TLC is the best-selling female singing group in American music history, with 22 million certified albums. CrazySexyCool remains the only album by a female singing group to receive the RIAA diamond award. According to Billboard, TLC is the second most successful girl group of all time on the Billboard charts, behind only The Supremes.
Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins (1991-present) – lead vocals, background vocals
Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes (1991-2002) – rapping, background vocals
Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas (1991-present) – lead vocals, background vocals
Crystal Jones (1991)
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