TLC will forever go down in history as one of the greatest girl groups of all time. As we celebrate 50 years of Hip Hop this year, you can’t forget what these three ladies did as a unit. While they may have had their differences, T-Boz, Chilli, and Left Eye were sisters and treated each other as family, and their legacy will live on forever.
Thankfully, Lifetime is premiering the TLC Forever documentary, as T-Boz and Chilli wear their hearts on their sleeves and tell their story for the first time on camera. While most fans may associate TLC with their timeless hits — including “No Scrubs,” “Creep,” “Waterfalls,” “Unpretty,” and many more — there’s so much that transpired behind the public eye that affected each member individually… including the tragic loss of Left Eye, T-Boz getting diagnosed with sickle cell and a brain tumor, Chilli getting an abortion at age 20, and so much more.
The Source had the pleasure of attending the first look screening of TLC Forever before it premieres on Lifetime on Sunday, June 3rd at 8pm PST. Taking a seat inside Theater 68 in Los Angeles, California, the two-hour film was followed by a highly-anticipated Q&A with Chilli. Unfortunately, T-Boz wasn’t feeling well and could not make it.
When asked her favorite songs to perform, Chilli says she likes “all the uptempos, because we’re also dancers. So I love, love love. I’m happy when it’s time to slow down a little bit, but I’m not excited about it. Alright fine, we’ll do ‘Unpretty’. We’ll sing ‘Red Light Special’, fine. But I’m ready to get it back up there.”
This then became a question of her most underrated songs from TLC, with “Let’s Do It Again” taking precedence.
“I love that song,” she states. “First of all, it was always so much fun working with Babyface. He’s the best, and he brings out the absolute best in every artist he works with vocally. You’d think he’s a vocal coach or something. On ‘Diggin’ On You’, the register I was singing in, it’s in between your falsetto and the head is right in here. I remember when he first was telling me to do it, because the key, I had to do it that way. And I got a headache. I’m like, I feel like I’m about to pass out. He’s like ‘you’ll get used to it,” and he’s right. It’s just I had never done that before. That’s what I mean, you know, is so awesome that you can work with different producers who really understand the vocals, teach you and show you.”
While TLC has left its mark on music, they were also known for their trendy, out-of-this-world style.
“Mind you, I never wore tight clothes anyway. I was always drinking weight gain shakes, asking my mom: ‘why can’t I gain weight? When are my hips gonna pop out more?’ I’m 16, asking these questions. She’s like, oh it’s gonna come’. I’m 18, it hasn’t come yet. I’m eating all this food because they say when you go to college, you gain the freshman 15. I was so excited! My freshman year, I didn’t gain one pound. Not one pound. I was getting constipated,I’m sorry. You know when you’re not eating enough fiber and veggies, it’s going to be a problem. Just forget it, it’ll happen when it happens.”
She continues, “When I got in the group, Tionne and Lisa were already having the baggy pants. I didn’t go as big as what they had on at the time, so I started with 32’s. Then I worked my way up to 33’s, 34’s. We all have a sense of style. At that point, it all started coming together. We knew we didn’t want to dress extra girly. It was great that when I got in the group, we all had the same mindset. We felt the same. We didn’t want to dress like that. Once we got the rhythm of what we liked, it was on from there. We’d go shopping at the Gap and buy all these big clothes. Come back home, cut them, write stuff on it. Pinning things on it. We made it our thing.”
Chilli also recalls that when the second album came out, that’s when they met Julie Mijares, who designed all the iconic looks. She explains, “Because she understood that we didn’t want to dress a certain kind of way, but we needed to grow. She was able to help bridge us over like that.”
What Chilli loves most when TLC was on the road is “looking out into the audience and seeing these young girls. I love kids, babies, I love them so much. When I see that, it really warms my heart. It makes me even more proud of the work that we’ve done, because you don’t know if your music is going to be timeless or have that type of longevity. Time tells you those things. It’s been a couple of decades and the kids, they like it. I think too, our lyrical content is what anybody can relate to.”
This turned into a discussion of how their song “Unpretty” is extremely relatable in today’s age, where people are constantly comparing themselves to what they see on social media.
It’s human nature,” Chilli explains. “It’s a different time, but it’s the same thing. It’s the same thing. We all go through the same stuff, and that’s the truth. Even if I don’t go through everything that you’ve gone through, at some point in our lives, we’ve gone through something that’s the same. Especially women. That’s why so many people can connect with us, because they can relate.”
The convo then turned into how amazing TLC fans were, especially when it comes to young females taking after their fashion style. Chilli was then asked who her favorite artists were.
“I have several favorite artists. Seal is always going to be one of my favorite artists of all time, because I respect his writing skills and how he puts a whole song together. There’s harmonies and everything. Him and Sade to me are the same really. When you listen to their lyrics, you have to go back like wait, what did you say? In one of his songs, ‘Don’t Cry’, he says ‘I’m your sedative, take a piece of me whenever you can.’ Ooh, that’s deep. See if somebody really loves the other person. [laughs] Of course, y’all know Michael Jackson is my what?”
At this point, she jokes that the crowd isn’t real fans, as she fills in the blank: “come on, he’s my husband!”
Takeaways from the special event: Chilli is a different breed. Her humility shines through every time she speaks, from when she started at age 20 to now: a grown, strong-minded, Christian woman who prides herself in raising a man. Her aura reminds you of how important it is to be kind, take care of your mental health, and stay passionate in whatever you love to do.