Chilli of TLC still chasing waterfalls at Hollywood Casino but ‘no scrubs’ allowed

Hear our full conversation on my podcast “Beyond the Fame.”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews TLC at Hollywood Casino (Part 1)

She put the “C” in “TLC,” but Chilli doesn’t want “no scrubs” at TLC’s concert! The top-selling girl group of all time plays Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races on Aug. 27.

“If we can’t go on stage and bring all of the energy and dance and sing our butts off, we can’t do this,” Chilli told WTOP. “I saw the chemistry between the three of us [early on at a 1992 photo shoot]. … I knew it, I was like, ‘We’re going to be the biggest girl group of ever,’ and they just looked at me like I was crazy, and I was like, ‘I’m telling you!'”

TLC was formed in Atlanta in 1990 by Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, who quickly replaced Crystal Jones with Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas for a trio in 1991.

“They were on the verge of looking for a third member,” Chilli said. “L.A. [Reid] told his then-wife wife, Pebbles, about me. … Upon meeting them the very first time, we put together a routine. That’s where we established T-Boz with this unique, rasp sound, I sang a song by En Vogue, and Lisa rapped, so that night everybody knew their role.”

Their debut album “Ooooooooohhh … On the TLC Tip” (1992) featured hit singles like “Baby-Baby-Baby,” but their next album “CrazySexyCool” (1994) entered the stratosphere. It wasn’t just multiplatinum, it was a diamond seller that won Grammy for Best R&B Album, featuring hits like “Creep,” “Red Light Special,” “Diggin’ on You” and “Waterfalls.”

“On the hook, the chorus, CeeLo Green is singing with us,” Chilli said. “Radio didn’t get it at first. They were like, ‘Don’t go chasing waterfalls? What?’ The video is what brought the lyrics together. When the video came out and people got a chance to visualize everything, then it was like, ‘Oh my gosh! That’s what they’re saying?’ It touches so many people.”

TLC’s third album “Fan Mail” (1999) was also a smash, featuring hits like “No Scrubs.” The song starts by describing the term: “a scrub is a guy who thinks he’s fly, also known as a Buster,” then mocking them for “hanging out the passenger side of his best friend’s ride trying to holler at me.”

“When I first heard the song, it had a couple more cuss words, so I took those out and said, ‘We’ll just keep the two that’s necessary,'” Chilli said. “I instantly knew even before I heard the lyrics when I heard the music. … I was like, ‘This is the one!’ A lot of guys were upset with us. They say a hit dog will holler, so I guess that’s what was happening.”

The album also featured the song “Unpretty” with the lyric, “You can buy your hair if it won’t grow, you can fix your nose if he says so, you can buy all the make-up that MAC can make, but if you can’t look inside you, find out who am I, to be in the position to make me feel so damn unpretty, yeah, I’ll make you feel unpretty too.”

“We all have our own insecurities,” Chilli said. “Kids are sweet, but they can be mean. … It’s just awful the things you go through during those adolescent times. Now more than ever because of social media, our song just stands the test of time. … The song encourages people to embrace … imperfections because that’s what makes you unique.”

Tragically, Left Eye was killed in a car accident in Honduras in 2002, but the group pressed on with a fourth and fifth album, “3D” (2002) and “TLC” (2017), and is still touring today.

“It goes back to just your faith, our faith in Jesus Christ because we are prayers, we pray,” Chilli said. “You don’t fully get through something like that. I don’t know how you can. We both miss her to this day. We’ll miss her as long as we live and we still love her. Time helps, but you never get over it 100%. … TLC forever!”

WTOP's Jason Fraley previews TLC at Hollywood Casino (Part 2)

Hear our full conversation on my podcast “Beyond the Fame.”

Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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