I remember my younger days laying in bed all day listening to R&B in my mom’s tiny townhouse in Virginia. The harmonies bounced off my bright blue walls and the bass made my twin bed shake a tiny bit as a hummed off-key to Xcape, 3LW, Destiny’s Child and TLC. At a young age, I didn’t quite understand the love stories, sexcapdes, broke men and heartbreak they sung about, but all I knew is it sounded damn good.
I played my mom’s TLC hardcopies as I was barely alive when their first two projects released, but I was Crazy Sexy and Cool and you couldn’t tell me shit. Back then, the “girl group” was in and and I was the fourth member in my head. Singles like Creep and Waterfalls were on repeat like they just came out, along with Switch, one of my personal favorites. As I recollect on the girl gang in 2017, I can’t help but to think, will they be as strong as they were in the 90s?
In R&B, we haven’t seen a successful girl group in today’s age as we did in the 90s and early 2000s. Music has evolved so much that we’re gravitating towards collaborations and features instead of girl bands when it comes to rhythm and blues. After Left Eye passed away in 2002, along with bankruptcies, and fuds, the band took a turn for it’s worst which led to a long hiatus after their third studio album 3D. The gang remained quiet until mid 2015 when remaining members Chili and T-Boz decided there needs to be a come back.
To this day, I’m still not sure who asked for the come back to TLC and why they felt like it was needed, but regardless, Chili and T-Boz were down to make it happen, but not on their own dollar. The two started a Kickstarter fundraiser which allowed fans to pitch in for the new album and requested $150,000 and ended up with a nice chunk of change at $450,000. At almost half a million, I’d think thats more than enough to make an album so good that I have to visit my mother and play it on broke down stereo in my tiny blue room, but we have yet to hear the project.
It’s now 2017 and the remaining duo are now releasing singles from their fifth studio album titled TLC. Their first lead single featured Snoop Dogg called Way Back while Haters was released in Japan exclusively. Way Back placed at 47 on the Billboard charts not making it an easy “I NEED TLC BACK” statement. While I did enjoy the 90s, or what I can remember of it, I’m not so sure I’m excited to see them back with another album and on tour.
Right now, we’re in a state of R&B where 90’s music is sampled to make a new genre. What’s “old school” is only being blasted on the radio during #ThrowbackThursday and what’s new school has taken that and created something the younger generation can relate to. We have neo-soul which Sid from the Internet mastered and a contemporary style which Kehlani mastered along with vibes I can’t quite put my finger on but love which include PartyNextDoor, SZA, Majid Jordan, DVSN and Bryson Tiller. Are we truly in the need of a flash from the past? I think not, but I’m curious to see what T-Boz and Chili have done with half a million dollars and almost two years of time.