’94 Week: What Millennials Should Know About… TLC’s ‘CrazySexyCool’

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VIBE spotlights some of music’s most essential timepieces for Gen Y

TLC
CrazySexyCool
(1994)

Most Slept On:
“Let’s Do it Again”
TLC was bound to get a little nastier. Compared to their 1992 debut, Ooooooohhh…On the TLC Tip—which had a certain playground goofiness to it despite its mature sexual references—CrazySexyCool is much more sophisticated and TV-MA. “Red Light Special” tends to be considered the most shamelessly dirty song on this album, but “Let’s Do It Again” is equally worthy of being the soundtrack to a climax. Around the 3:08 mark is where the Chilli moaning starts.

Other Songs A Then Teenager Shouldn’t Have Been Listening To:
—“Red Light Special”
—“Take Our Time”

Still The Best Song:
If you want a personal essay on why women cheat, just listen to “Creep.” It’s the single that’s probably remained the most relevant over the years, and it’s also a seamless breakdown of a cheating woman’s thought process: “Though I might mess around, it’s only ‘cause I need some affection. Yeah.”

The best scene in the Vh1 biopic, Crazy Sexy Cool: The TLC Story (a decent refresher of TLC’s backstory) is when Lil Mama, as Left Eye, lights a match and throws it on a pile of sneaker boxes that her NFL boyfriend just bought for another woman—what he gets for “messing with all these bitches,” according to Lil Mama/Left Eye. During this dramatic sequence, “Creep” serves as the backdrop to her rage and the song’s trumpet instrumental bridge is extended for a few minutes. The whole scene made me realize how perfectly sexy and unapologetic “Creep” was at the time.

Bet You Didn’t Know:
Buutttt Left Eye wasn’t exactly pro-revenge-cheating. Her philosophy: “Instead of telling her to cheat back, why don’t we tell her to just leave?” A very logical thing.

These Things Called Interludes…
You’ve probably heard Kendrick Lamar’s album, good kid, m.a.a.d city, which means you’re aware of skits, and you understand why Kendrick’s rare inclusion of them made the cypher complete. In the ’90s, a project was naked without the presence of interludes. TLC’s previous glaring hip-hop influence is subtler on CrazySexyCool, but it shows up on their interludes as a thematic reminder. Cue Busta Rhymes on “Can I Get A Witness.” Also notable is that one of the most classic R&B albums of the ‘90s starts off with a rap from A Tribe Called Quest’s Phife Dawg.

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Lines Best For Status Updates (Especially for Girl Power):
“So I creep, yeah, just keep it on the down low”
“I gotta be in love or something like that”
“What was it in a line that made me fall for you”
“I’m a woman, every woman, I just what I want, I know just who I am”
“Don’t go chasing waterfalls”
“Goodbye, goodbye to all the fake people in my life”
“Tell me your secrets and I’ll tell you mine”

Synopsis:
In retrospect, the visual H20 effects in the “Waterfalls” video weren’t that great. The production of CrazySexyCool (the majority by Dallas Austin and Jermaine Dupri) doesn’t hold up that well in this era. And, yeah, T-Boz was never the best singer. As teenage girls, we were all listening to songs that were much too mature for us from three cool, weird “feminist-rapping-singing” (as Arsenio Hall once described them) characters who seemed like they were just being themselves.

Everything from the cover of CrazySexyCool to the videos made you want to be like them. I found out they weighed 105 pounds and I wanted to weigh exactly that many pounds. I wrote Left Eye’s rhyme from “Waterfalls” and “Switch” in a black-and-white composition notebook. More than anything, this album is appreciated as a nostalgic relic of girl-group dominance.