Tag Archives: LeftEye

Exploring Lisa LeftEye Lopes’ Legacy after VH1’s CrazySexyCool – plus TLC’s song about Pebbles on BBC Radio (1995) #demtlcguls

Like countless others; watching VH1’s CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story transported me way back into the 90s.

Lisa LeftEye Lopes in Touch magazine
Lisa LeftEye Lopes in touch magazine

While watching the bio-pic, although it was made well and with love, I don’t think you could do all three ladies justice.  Their stories and characters are worthy of one film each!  My only criticism is that LeftEye was made out to be the crazy caricature that she strived to not be.  All three ladies were crazy, sexy and cool.  Anybody who dug past the media headlines, or has seen her speak in her own words in her documentary could see that there was a lot more humanity, creativity and depth to LeftEye.

She didn’t burn the house down because she was crazy, she was a victim of domestic abuse.  She didn’t wear tape on her mouth (in Creep) because she was stubborn or selfish for her solo career, she disagreed with the message of cheating on your partner.

The film reminded me just how strong my respect for LeftEye still stands  eleven years after her death. Her desire to help others express themselves through the arts is still evident in the groups she was nurturing at the time. Her rap on the DARP remix of Creep still gives me goosebumps and I admired that her aspirations were worth more to her than the money thrown her way.

One of the most memorable performances by female rappers.

When LeftEye spoke about her influence on TLC (the sign language in UnPretty, her Waterfalls contribution, their look in videos, the reason behind FanMail and its cover) or any decisions she made in her life; she came across really sweet, reasonable and understandable, which is why I hope the new fans discovering TLC learn more about her following the success of CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story.

As I reflect back on what I use and abuse And detect that I need some clues to get through. To those that accuse me of never being true I lose if I play into this game and never know the rules. So how do I bring out the me nobody sees?
– Lisa LeftEye Lopes, UnPretty (Don’t Look Any Further remix)
Drew Sidora (T-Boz), Keke Palmer (Chilli), Niatia ‘Lil Mama’ Kirkland (LeftEye) and the real TLC
Drew Sidora (T-Boz), Keke Palmer (Chilli), Niatia ‘Lil Mama’ Kirkland (LeftEye) and the real TLC

The TLC Story was emotional to sit through, knowing certain things that were going to happen to them. The first time I heard the name Pebbles in connection with their career, was one Friday afternoon after school during the Diggin’ On You promotion; LeftEye and Chilli were being interviewed on the radio. What I recorded was hilarious:

So, the  fact that TLC were deprived of their earnings by Pebbles is not a big reveal, but it has caused the most uproar.

Seeing Rochelle Aytes  as Pebbles was like watching  the evil twin of Suzanne de Passe (Vanessa Williams portrayed her in The Jacksons: An American Dream). I did like the casting, the actors were terrific and Evan Ross playing Dallas Austin was very complimentary, but, Dalvin (of Jodeci) wasn’t as lucky. One last note about the characters –  I am still racking my brain trying to figure out who was depicted bad-mouthing LeftEye at the Grammys – because I am certain I remember seeing that dress on someone that night. Has the internet figured it out yet?

TLC had the technical ability, the sisterly bond and evident drive in their performances that created magic on stage. I couldn’t have been less prepared for how good Niatia ‘Lil Mama’ Kirkland (LeftEye), Drew Sidora (T-Boz) and Keke Palmer (Chilli) could perform together as TLC and that was the highlight for me because I cannot separate the music from TLC’s performances.

Memorable: TLC at the Nickelodeon awards
Memorable: TLC at the Nickelodeon awards

Discovering TLC one school morning is one of the most memorable moments of 1995 for me. I didn’t have MTV at the time (my excuse for discovering them late), but seeing a snippet of Creep on a US Billboard chart feature blew me away so much, that I don’t remember anybody else who was in the top five with them.

I had to know more about these girls, their look – sexy tomboys; their dancing – natural and in sync; their sound – unique voices over a cool fusion of hip hop, soul and funk, all encapsulated in a clip which probably lasted only five seconds. I scoured HMV in search of their music and from then on I studied their album booklets, recorded their music videos (No Youtube back then), kept up with their interviews and really wanted to see them live – sadly my parents weren’t too keen on that after catching the Diggin’ on You video.

So as I watched the film, it was like the  DeLorean took me back and I was eleven again, enraptured with excitement ready to watch TLC’s live performance at the VMAS in 1995. That night they accepted multiple awards in unique style,  reading their thanks from a roll of toilet paper, including a sarcastic thank-you to  Pebbles.

The only two memorable people that night were TLC and Michael Jackson, so, from the same radio interview, here’s a snippet of them talking about Chilli’s Michael Jackson experience!