Ain’t to proud to grow
Since the tragic death of their bandmate Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes in 2002 and the subsequent release of their album 3D, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas’ have kept a low profile, public appearances reserved mostly for one-off awards shows or acknowledgements of their huge achievements.
Yet 26 years after first forming in Atlanta, people still want to hear what TLC have to say; a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign for this album hit its $150,000 target in just 48 hours.
Even so, a mere nostalgia trip wouldn’t serve anyone. Although there’s a sentimental thread of 1990s R&B audible throughout – as well as numerous references to the past, as heard on the slick thud of opener No Introductions – there’s also a sense that Watkins and Thomas are striving to compete with their younger peers, many of whom have been influenced by them. It’s an odd position to be in, but the duo work through it with aplomb. Haters is a clear standout, an anthem promoting positivity and self-love that sounds like the streetwise older sister of Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off. Scandalous takes their sultry, sexy blueprint and holds it to a match until it ignites in a gutsy kick of glitchy futurism; Snoop Dogg features on Way Back, an ode to their longevity, resilience and friendship that name-drops “James Brown and Michael J”, while the joyous party disco-pop of It’s Sunny subtly samples Earth Wind & Fire’s September.
Like their previous hit Unpretty – one of several old tracks unnecessarily tacked on to the tracklist as a reminder of how great TLC were – songs such as the empowering Perfect Girls prove that TLC were always worth listening to for more than just their music.
Their fifth and allegedly final album, proves that they’re still crazy, sexy, cool. officialtlc.com