Today's R&B Stars Prove TLC's Influence Is As Strong As Ever
On Wednesday night's (March 7) episode of Star, TLC teased a track from their final album expected to be released this summer.
Short and sweet, "Way Back" brings out wispy vocals from T-Boz by bridging the gap between the group's signature sound and groovy instrumentals used in R&B today. Plugging the track to a series on a girl group is a no-brainer, but it's also a crucial way just how much one of the biggest girl groups of all time can still have an alluring effect on the culture.
Just last month, TLC celebrated the 25th anniversary of their debut album, Ooooooohhh… On The TLC Tip. Standing the test of a quarter-century’s worth of times, TLC’s introduction to the world reigned supreme over the 90s. Rozanda "Chilli" Thomas, Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and the late Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes were down, real, and curated a sound heard in the R&B stars of today so much so that we've found three women who have indirectly captured the spirit of the legendary artists.
Keke Palmer – On The Real Tip
To be unapologetically blatant back then was equivalent to sporting a scarlet letter—rhythms had to match radio and looks had to be as sexy as Jessica Rabbit. Keke Palmer may have taken on the role of Chili for VH1's biopic of the superstar group, but other than playing a part in hit TV film, the entertainer has never given her fans anything short of the same realness. Palmer also does so on an even deeper level with the assistance of our social media-crazed age. If someone, celebrity or your average Joe, attacks her womanhood or any issue dear to her heart, the VIBE Vixen cover star speaks up. She's also not afraid to be the butt of any joke, even if it's pretty much on the nose.
Teyana Taylor – On The Style Tip
As we witnessed, the trio brought themselves in a parade of velour track suits, extra-long white tees and airbrushed stylings to the masses. When TLC stepped on the scene, their appearance was the most controversial and unconventional thing about them. Often incorporating condoms into their baggy threads, the ladies always sent a message with their coordinated, colorful get-ups. Teyana Taylor's style evolution is very much the same as she coasted through the loose but fitted skateboard-tomboy look in the mid-2000's and found her calling for finer threads in life towards the 2010's. Her sound as demonstrated in her underrated debut album, VII, presented a more mature and contemporary side to Harlem native and her acting roles have done the same (a la VH1's The Breaks).
The world might love her now for her killer body in Kanye West's "Fade" visual, but the entertainer has always killed the catwalk, red carpet and your IG timeline with her fashion sense.
Kehlani – On The Chill Tip
While we all have our separate reasons for liking TLC — the way they dressed, their distinct style of music, or their attitude—it's the collective of those very things that make them the world's favorite girl group. They weren’t just their style or women who enjoyed talking about sex or promoters of individuality. They were all those things wrapped up in one. One multi-faceted phenom that has their chill-like spirit is Kehlani.
The Oakland native holds their mission statement in her hands and debut album, SweetSexySavage. The CrazySexyCool inspiration is something that we’re all the way here for.
The Grammy-nominated artist stepped onto the music scene bringing all of herself, nothing less and nothing more. She bares her deepest struggles and brightest joys with the rest of the world to inspire the little ones to “always stay bright” despite the highs and lows. She owns her sexuality on wax but reminds us that she’s still “shy and just a little awkward.” And of course, she’s “A.I. with the designs, du-raggin’,” but can switch it up and get grown when she feels like it.
TLC was more than just a girl group, they were and still are, a movement. They brought real, in every aspect, to the culture in divine, hip-hop feminine form. But most importantly, their legacy and truth inspired a new generation who will inspire the next. They forever gave hip-hop a major key that it was missing with the “Sexy, Tomboy Hip-Hop Woman” spirit that was conceived with their debut album and continues to rebirth itself over time through new talent.