Almost 30 years ago, T-Boz, Left Eye and Chilli graced our radio airwaves with Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip, much to the appreciation of teenage Gen-X, and to the chagrin of our elders. Today they’re considered one of the most successful girl groups to ever record an album. However, a lot has happened between what they did back then, and where they stand now.
Sickness, death and controversy has dogged the crew along the way, but according to Chilli aka Rozonda Thomas, it’s all been a part of the process. Early this month we had a very intimate conversation with Rozonda about the new Netflix docu-series Once in a Lifetime Sessions. Here’s what she had to say.
The Shadow League: What was your first impression when this project first came to your attention considering how much you’ve been through over the years?
Chilli: We were very excited initially. Like, right out the box. I just thought it was a beautiful marriage for artists and fans to get together in such an intimate way. The way they shot the docu-series, I thought it was brilliant, and we were really happy to be a part of that. It’s new. So we’re always fresh and new, and we always want to be a part of something that’s fresh and never, ever want to jump on the bandwagon.
TSL: Every generation there seems to be a paradigm in which the older generation criticizes the music of the younger generation. TLC went through this same situation. What comes to mind when you observes these types of situations?
Everybody’s got love for TLC.
Chilli: I don’t think they had a problem with what we were saying, they just thought we were too young to say it. Once they realized we weren’t 15 and 16 years old, and that we were 20 and 22 they got over that part, and I think we were good. We always had good content when it came to our songs and we felt very strongly about the fact that any song was put there in a way that made sense and people could relate to it. Not just gibberish, you know? So, but I think that when I hear older people talk about the music today, I think the problem is nobody knows what they’re talking about and it all sounds the same.
I don’t have a problem with styles, I think everybody should find their own niche style wise and just go ahead and rock it. That’s exactly what we did and continue to do.
I’m in support of great lyrical content. It is about what you say and how you say it. Right now it’s just a big concentration on drugs, a lot of drugs. Lots and lots of drugs. I mean we’ve always had songs about drugs but it wasn’t the majority. It didn’t dominate the charts. I think they have a problem that they don’t understand what the artists are talking about.
TLC’s official music video for ‘No Scrubs’. Click to listen to TLC on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/TLCSpotify?IQid=TL… As featured on Fanmail. Click to buy the track or album via iTunes: http://smarturl.it/TLCFnMliTunes?IQid… Google Play:http://smarturl.it/TLCNoScplay?IQid=T… Amazon: http://smarturl.it/TLCFnMlAmz?IQid=TL… More from TLC Waterfalls: https://youtu.be/8WEtxJ4-sh4 Creep: https://youtu.be/LlZydtG3xqI Unpretty: https://youtu.be/g2gy1Evb1Kg More great Classic RNB videos here: http://smarturl.it/ClassicRNB?IQid=TL…
TSL: As I’ve mentioned before, you guys have been through a great deal over the years. Please tell me about some of the emotional memories that were triggered by this docu-series.
Chilli: Anytime we talk about our sister Lisa it’s always a very touching moment because she’s not here and she hasn’t been for a long time. I don’t think you can never come back from something like that. A piece of your heart is ripped. It’s gone, torn forever. You just have to get through it the best way you can and move on. Those are some moments that can really be sad.
But, every time I hear my sister Tionne talk about her sickle cell and all that stuff, I really get full. She’s just so strong and is always been so positive. I just feel so blessed that she’s still here. I still have my sister right beside me so we can carry this TLC thing to the end. Moments like that because you can’t take life for granted and we all kinda get into a place where we do because, you know, we are waking up every day, when we wake up we forget to thank God for allowing us to wake up, so we just take those little things for granted. So when something is taken away from you it’s a huge and ugly reality check. I like to stay in constant reminder of how tomorrow is not promised to any of us.
TLC’s official music video for ‘Creep’. Click to listen to TLC on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/TLCSpotify?IQid=TL… As featured on CrazySexyCool. Click to buy the track or album via iTunes: http://smarturl.it/TLCCSCiTunes?IQid=… Google Play: http://smarturl.it/TLCCreepplay?IQid=… Amazon: http://smarturl.it/TLCCSCAmz?IQid=TLC… More from TLC No Scrubs: https://youtu.be/FrLequ6dUdM Creep: https://youtu.be/LlZydtG3xqI Unpretty: https://youtu.be/g2gy1Evb1Kg More great Classic RNB videos here: http://smarturl.it/ClassicRNB?IQid=TL…
TSL: You were speaking about Girl Power long before it was a thing. Now, 26 years later, we’re still discussing women’s empowerment, and rightfully so.
Chilli: Definitely, we’ve always been about girl power, that’s been our theme. The fact that we’ve stayed together despite all the years we’ve been together. It seems like it’s only been about 10, but it’s been about 26 years? And we’ve never broken up and just having loyalty to one another and to this TLC thing is huge. It does help to shape and mold toward other things in your life. You can’t do that with everything but some things are worth fighting for and sticking it out and this group is definitely one of those things for me in my life.
TSL: Tell me what it was like working in a male-dominated industry and how did you overcome?
Chilli: Just keeping fighting for what you believe in and fight what society thinks you should be when it comes from a male point of view. The way we dressed, not afraid to wear jogging pants and tie up our tops to show our abs or something like that.
Femininity was still there, we felt good about that and we fought for that. A lot of people looked at us like ‘Why’re they dressed like that? They look like boys!’ We’re like ‘No, we don’t look like boys. I have on lip gloss. I have on some poppin’ earrings right now.’ With that, on display for the world to see, definitely impacts you as an individual and how you move forward in other aspects of your life. It made me stronger because we had to deal with a lot of negativity. It all wasn’t negative, but a lot of it was. We were able to get to the top while still being our true selves.
TLC’s official music video for ‘Diggin’ On You’. Click to listen to TLC on Spotify: http://smarturl.it/TLCSpotify?IQid=TLCDig As featured on CrazySexyCool.
TSL: How has fame made relationships and dating for you?
Chilli: Even with me personally, when it comes to a relationship, people are always like ‘Chilli, why you still not married, and all this kinda stuff. And I’m like ‘I’m true to who I am, I know my self-worth 100 percent, and I know what I deserve. If I can’t get a man who’s deserving of all of this, and I can’t get the same qualities in him, then I wait. I’m not desperate to be in a relationship just so I can say I’m in a relationship with a man. All of that has helped strengthen that part of me as well and I’m grateful for that.
They can’t see the real us until we decide to show something like that. But even when you’re not the Chilli onstage or the T-Boz on stage, just us how we are outside of that. You initially see that first, and I get it, but there are some who just live in that. You can see those people pretty early on and you just gotta cut people off and keep it moving.
It’s very difficult dating someone because clearly, I can have my people call up somebody else’s people and set up a phone call, date or something, I’m really straightforward, I’ve always been that way, I ask questions early. I don’t think it’s early. I think people wait too long to find out information that they should know in the beginning.
After you spend time with someone you can catch feelings, and it’s really infatuation, it’s not so deep. It’s not anything so deep yet, but you’re so caught up in that. You’ll find yourself spending more time when you should really just exit. That’s going to be the inevitable anyway. So, I keep my eyes wide open in the dating world. It’s not fun. It’s not fun at all.
TSL: Can we expect any new music from you?
Chilli: We stated when we released our album last June that it was going to be our last album. But that’s not the last time you’ll hear from us musically. We would definitely collab with the right artist, it would have to make sense, and make songs for soundtracks, stuff like that. It just depends. But there won’t be any more studio albums.