Kickstarter has become increasingly popular to fund projects, from rompers for guys to a new techno jacket. The website is also well known for crowdfunding albums, the latest being TLC’s final, self titled album.
This album is the closure the band needs, and it’s their last major creation. It’s been quite a long time – fifteen years, to be exact – since they have released something of this magnitude. It’s a perfect way to end the production of new music and give fans one last gift before their departure from the main stage.
The current line-up of the band consists of just Rozonda “Chili” Thomas and Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins – no replacement for the late Lisa “Left-Eye” Lopes. Thomas and Watkins collaborated with new and old songwriters and producers to create 11 full-fledged songs. Kicking off everything is “No Introduction,” and it’s pretty straight forward. Rather than serving as a song, it acts a reminder to people that the well-established girl group has come back swinging. In the lyrics, there allusion to some of their old songs with, “We don’t need no scrubs chasing waterfalls.” It refers to “No Scrubs” and “Waterfalls,” their arguably most popular songs. After listening to this first track, I was admittedly worried – were they going to sound like the TLC I remembered? All my fears subsided as soon as I heard the next song.
“Way Back” was the single dropped from the album, and it featured Snoop Dogg on a smooth track that seems as if it could’ve been taken straight from the days of Crazysexycoo or Fanmail, just with an updated twist. While Chili and T-Boz have vocals that play off of each other, Snoop Dogg slides into the middle of it all perfectly. The groove and rhythm is undeniably catchy, and every single voice melts together and oozes with harmony.
While sampling from “September” by Earth, Wind, & Fire as well as “Sunny” by Bobby Hebb, TLC has come up with “It’s Sunny.” They took something old and made it new but most importantly original, an ingenious technique only successfully pulled off by established bands. There’s an optimism and brightness to this tune that makes it stand out. So often now we’re greeted by doom and gloom in the music we listen to, and this song is a reprieve from it all.
This girl group has always been extremely gung-ho about drawing attention to unrealistic expectations for women in society. Drawing from past inspiration in “Unpretty” comes “Perfect Girls.” It reiterates the fact that “Perfect girls ain’t real,” and brings up points about self-esteem that feel all too real in this day in age. Some messages are timeless, and there was a reason TLC felt the need to broadcast their message on last time before signing off.
“Interlude” is an interesting piece and intriguing piece. The group decided that a TLC album wouldn’t be the same without the touch of Lopes, who died in a car accident in 2002. They choose a sound bit from one of her interviews and modified it, making a tribute to her that was in all regards perfect.
Towards the end are two contradictory songs, “Scandalous” and “Aye Muthafucka.” The aforementioned all deal with a guy, but how they regard him are drastically different. The first reveals the love-hate relationship she has with him. Meanwhile, the second is pretty ostentatious in it’s feelings of disgust. The same polarized trend is reflected in the sound. An electronic, modern envelops the first almost entirely while the last stresses the vocals.
All in all, this album displays the old TLC we all know and love – their R&B style mixed with pop – but it also gives us a side of the group we hadn’t really seen before. It lived up to all of my expectations, and it was a solid way to end the legacy of TLC.