TLC: Crazier, Sexier, Cooler Than Ever [INTERVIEW]

Still crazy after all these years

The ladies of TLC do not mince words. Never have. Never will. And truthfully? There’s no need to. It’s refreshing—and they know it. Plus, most of the time, even when they’re coming across as being serious, they’ve having fun… sometimes at your expense.

Take today for example. Chilli, who’s just as sweet as can be, is strong-arming me about coverage. She’s mocking EBONY about not putting the group on the cover of the magazine and playfully suggesting that we need to do something about it.

“I’m good…” Chilli drawls in a Southern girl sing-songy voice, “but I’ll be happier when y’all put us on the cover. I’m saying, we’ve done a little something in our career. Just a little bit. Where is the love?”

The love is all around. And come Monday, TLC fans will likely be busting up the Internet with plenty of it. Finally, after years of teasing and behind-the-scenes work, VH1’s TLC biopic, CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story, will hit the small screen. KeKe Palmer, Drew Sidora and Lil Mama take on one of the world’s most successful girl groups of all time. The remaining members of TLC (Left Eye tragically died in a car crash in 2002) consulted the actresses on how best to pull their story off, and the team at VH1 shot filmed in hometown of Atlanta.

It’s about time this story was brought to life. Many of us remember the TLC Behind the Music episode, where the trio revealed how they went bankrupt despite being a household name and selling millions of albums. Just how well did they do? Their debut Oooooohhh… On the TLC Tip sold six million copies worldwide; 1994’s CrazySexyCool sold over 15 million, and their third album FanMail (released in 1999) moved more than 10 million.

And through all of that success came plenty of heartache. Nothing will be off-limits in this story which airs on Monday, October 2: T-Boz’s health scares, Chilli’s pregnancy and Left Eye’s untimely death. EBONY.com talks with T-Boz and Chilli about bringing CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story—and their beloved friend and bandmate Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes—to life.

EBONY: Why was it the right time for you guys to push the green light on this?

T-Boz: I think timing is everything. We had talked about it previously, and when Chilli had her situation at VH1 [the reality show What Chili Wants] and bought it up to them, they loved the idea. We joined forces with L. A. Reid again. Why not? It just seemed like the perfect time, and everything is falling into place together at the right time.

‘CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story’ trailer

‘CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story’ trailer

EBONY: We’ve pretty much known about every trial and tribulation you guys have had. What will be learned from this biopic?

T-Boz: Instead of just hearing about the bankruptcy, you’ll get to really see first hand why we were bankrupt and where the money really went. I think it will give you insight into the main things that you heard about TLC. You’ll learn financially what took place, where’s the money and who was taking money.

Chilli: I think people will really get to see how human we really are, because when you are in the public eye, you’re perceived maybe like you’re not really so much like a human. We’re like everybody else. We hurt like everybody. We all have the same problems with family or friends, boyfriends, all that stuff. So I like the fact that people will see that we’re normal and went through—and still go through—stuff like everybody else.

EBONY: You ladies have always been generous with letting the world know what was going on, even when you all were on top of the charts. We know about Chili’s abortion, T-Boz’s illness and issues that Left Eye went through. Was that strategic or organic?

Chilli: I think that was the very unique part about us and why the three of us fit—and Tionne and I fit—to this day. You have three different people, but we’re very strong individuals and very outspoken. So it was not like it was just one person and then you had two other members saying, “Nah, let’s not handle it that way,” and then you just hold it in. All three of us are very outspoken, strong-headed women. So when we weren’t happy about something, we weren’t very quiet about it.

Yes, Lisa was a little bit more… uh, she went a lot further than we went! But we just wanted to get to know what was going on. And it was authentic, even down to the things we wanted to talk about in our songs and the way we dressed. We’re just very open.

EBONY: Keke and Drew told me that they spent time with you both soaking up your personalities, but Lil Mama was at a disadvantage. What did you guys give her to help her morph into Lisa?

T-Boz: Well, we