Many R&B groups have come and gone, but TLC remain among the most beloved of the past quarter-century.
Based out of Atlanta, Georgia, group member Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins, Rozanda "Chilli" Thomas, and Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes crashed the scene with their 1992 debut, 'Ooooooohhh... On the TLC Tip' and helped revolutionize the genre.
Empowering young women across the world with their free-spirited, yet socially aware brand of music, the album sold over four million copies in the U.S. alone, turning the group into overnight stars and one of the most popular groups in the game.
Looking to beat the sophomore jinx, TLC released the follow-up effort, 'CrazySexyCool,' on Nov. 15, 1994. TLC did that and more with the LP, which would go on to be one of the highest-selling albums of the decade, selling over 20 million copies worldwide and becoming the first girl group to go diamond.
The album also earned them six Grammy nominations, two of which they won: R&B Album of the Year and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group. They dominated radio for much of late '94 into '95 with multiple chart-topping singles ('Creep,' 'Waterfalls') and some of the hottest videos to go along with them. 'CrazySexyCool' cemented TLC's status as one of the most successful groups of all-time.
Twenty years have passed since the release of this game-changer and to celebrate, we've selected and ranked the five best tracks from this classic album.
TLC get sensuous with the sexy cut 'Take Our Time.' The mega singles may have gotten most of the attention, but this Dallas Austin and Arnold Hennings-produced track is superb in its own right. The ladies make "no mistakes" on this track, from the way they coo over the beat to their steamy lyrical sex talk. Chilli takes the lead and shows she is more than capable of carrying the track with her sultry vocals. Debra Killings and T-Boz provide lusty background vocals for good measure. A perfect pick as a foreplay selection, the song proves they're worth more than standard radio fare with this slept-on, addictive ballad.
Jermaine Dupri and Manuel Seal provide a co-produced banger for TLC with the bouncy 'Kick Your Game.' Purring "I been watching you watching me and I know you want it" on the hook, each lady has their own intentions of getting scooped up by the guy they have their respective eyes on -- if his game is tight, of course. T-Boz and Chilli split vocal duties on this outing, with the latter singing, "I just wanna know if you can kick some game, come with something more clever than just your name." Left Eye drops two rap verses, spitting, "Baby come with me, you'll be mine so we can make love on the 50 yard line." That could possibly be a reference to her then-boyfriend, Andre Rison. Backed by JD's ad-libs, TLC give the listeners a dose of their ATL swag via 'Kick Your Game' and hit another one out of the park with this jam.
Every artist dreams of that one song that will take them to worldwide fame and immortalize them in music history. Well, TLC did just that with 'Waterfalls.' Produced by Organized Noize, the song serves as a cautionary tale of when chasing the wrong things in life can catch up to you in an extremely negative way. The lyrics were on the socially-conscious side, detailing a slain street soldier and a man who contracts HIV through unprotected sex with a women. The third single released from 'CrazySexyCool,' 'Waterfalls' was a massive hit, peaking at the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, holding that position for seven weeks. The video was also a fan favorite during '95, winning four MTV Video Music Awards, including the award for Video of the Year. The song is TLC's most successful single to date, topping the charts in various countries and considered one of the defining songs of the '90s.
TLC turns down the lights and get grown and sexy on the steamy 'Red Light Special. Produced and written by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, the trio's message on this record is clear: these aren't the innocent girls from the first LP, but fully grown -- and horny -- women. Just check out lyrics like, "Don't go too fast, don't go too slow, you've got to let ya body flow / I like 'em attentive and I like 'em in control," to get a taste. The second single released from 'CrazySexyCool,' 'Red Light Special' was a smash hit, giving T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli another top five appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The track received plenty of burn on video countdowns due to its popular, yet risque Matthew Rolston-directed video.
Coming off the massive success of their first album, TLC knew the stakes were high regarding the lead single of their sophomore album. But they more than exceeded the expectations with 'Creep.' Written and produced by Dallas Austin, the song finds the group singing about getting their satisfaction fulfilled on the side due to the indifference of a two-timing lover. Justifying her own infidelity with lyrics like "I'll never leave him down, though I might mess around, it's only cause I need some affection," T-Boz's unique voice is a perfect fit on top of the track's glorious horns and drums. 'Creep' is a perfect marriage of hip-hop-tinged beats and R&B vocals. 'Waterfalls' may have gotten more of the shine from the mainstream, but the real R&B heads know 'Creep' is the embodiment of everything TLC was about and remains a staple in any (credible) playlist 20 years later.