DAR Music: TLC's CrazySexyCool

(Compiled By @TrueGodImmortal, @JADBeats, and @CherchezLaPorsh)

1. Intro-lude 
2. Creep
3. Kick Your Game
4. Diggin On You 
5. Case Of The Fake People 
6. CrazySexyCool- Interlude 
7. Red Light Special 
8. Waterfalls 
9. Intermission-lude
10. Let's Do It Again 
11. If I Was Your Girlfriend 
12. Sexy Interlude 
13. Take Our Time 
14. Can I Get A Witness-Interlude 
15. Switch 
16. Sumthin Wicked This Way Comes 

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal 
-In music, there have been a number of great female groups that changed the course of the genre. Whether it was their style, their fashion, their voices, or their image in general, we have seen many great female groups impact R&B in a major way. There is probably no other group in the genre that fits that description like TLC. Comprised of Left Eye, Chilli, and T-Boz, this fearless group of three came onto the scene in 1992 with their debut and never looked back. Much like most R&B groups, their debut was just an appetizer to what they could do. Signed to LaFace Records and Arista, being under the tutelage of Babyface and L.A. Reid put TLC in position to be bigger stars than anyone could have imagined and after their multi platinum debut, they set out to make history on their sophomore project.

Enter CrazySexyCool.

When you think of TLC from their debut, you think of playful, fun, with a hint of sex appeal thrown in. For the trio, having their slightly immature image be the focal point on their second album was not an option. With CrazySexyCool, we got to hear more sultry sounds, more smooth tracks, and the focus was more on Chilli and T-Boz, as Left Eye was missing from a number of songs due to her personal issues at the time. Recorded mostly in Atlanta, CrazySexyCool would go on to feature producers like Organized Noize, Babyface (of course), Jermaine Dupri, and the buzzing Puff Daddy, who had just hit big with Bad Boy Records and his production prowess (though Puffy didn't produce much of the actual songs himself). The features would come from Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest (on the intro), along with verses from two of most enigmatic MCs in the rap game, Busta Rhymes and Andre 3000. Every piece of the puzzle seemingly came together for CrazySexyCool, and led to the music being the best in TLC's career. With that, we wanted to go back 23 years ago and revisit the classic highest selling album from a female group. Let's take a look at CrazySexyCool.

It’s no secret that the 90’s gave us classics in every genre. It’s also no secret that those classics were from artists and groups that not only had incredible songs, but also had a great production team and an ability to sing with passion and emotion that remained relevant as the years passed. TLC was one of those groups and “CrazySexyCool” was one of those albums.

Even though TLC didn’t get off on the best foot with their debut IMO, their sophomore project was an instant hit putting TLC on top charts and breaking records. They were nominated for six Grammys, the album went eleven times platinum and a couple of their singles topped the charts for weeks at a time. So what made this album so great? That’s easy. All of it from the incredible vocals of T-Boz and Chilli to the intermittent rapping of Left Eye, these ladies embraced “sexy” in a respectful and tasteful way.

Since there was an entire team on production and writing, I have to share the credit, but there isn’t a better group or artist who could have delivered each one of these songs. My favorite track on this album and in the entirety of R&B is “Red Light Special”, as the slow “bump n grind” style beat is perfect backdrop for the coy and sexually charged lyrics. Of course, T-Boz and Chilli have the perfect raspy voices which made this a highlight. Of course fans got “Diggin On You” and “Creep”, which were in the same vein but a little more fun with a bit more bounce. I think for most people “Waterfalls” was the go to track and although I didn’t love the song, I did appreciate the catchiness of the chorus and how much fun it was to sing along with. A surprise for me was the cover they did of Prince’s “If I Was Your Girlfriend”, as it’s no easy task but TLC managed to do it justice and made it enjoyable all the way through. From beginning to end, TLC gave us a harmonious, balanced and polished album. They came a long way in the short time since their debut but this album exhibited their confidence and maturity.

90’s R&B definitely had a signature sound. We were certain that every project (without fail) would use the same horns, guitar lines and tempo so that was never enough to create a classic album. What TLC did was bring a unique image along with some tremendously consistent vocals and an appealing group dynamic. Left Eye was the bridge to the hip hop side and T-Boz and Chilli perfected smooth silky vocals. There aren’t many albums in the genre that are instant classics but these ladies did it with this album. ”CrazySexyCool” had something for everyone and they appealed to absolutely everyone! This album deserves every accolade, award and all the credit it has gotten.

"CrazySexyCool", the 2nd album from TLC was inspired (the title) by describing them each with Left Eye being Crazy, Chilli being Sexy, and T-Boz being the Cool. This time around, they were a little toned down from their aggressive, New Jack Swing sound to a more softer R&B hip hop sound. Being that Left Eye was going through personal issues and rehab, she wasn't able to be on the album as much, but when she was, she made sure to stand out on tracks like "Switch" and her eclectic offbeat spoken word verse on "Sumthin Wicked This Way Come", where she touches on letting go of bitterness and marching to her own tune, regardless if you like it or not. She also gave us one of the most inspirational and memorable verses ever on "Waterfalls", which is a stand out track and video that touched on the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

In Left Eye's absence, T-Boz & Chilli got to showcase their more vulnerable, sexual sides and vocal range on songs like "Creep", "Red Light Special", "Diggin On You", and "Let's Do It Again". They also recorded their famous intro to the classic Nickelodeon show "All That" while making this album. Behind the great musical content of this album was bad business and drama. Left Eye burning down her boyfriend's home, TLC filing bankruptcy even after selling 11 million copies earning 75 million dollars for the label but only getting $50,000 each, them holding Clive Davis at gunpoint for more money  (which sort of worked), it was all drama surrounding the making and the fallout of this album.

There were features on here that added a nice hip hop touch like on the opener “Intro-Lude” where A Tribe Called Quest’s own Phife Dawg raps about each of the ladies style and gives them props. On the "Can I Get A Witness" interlude, Flipmode's own Busta Rhymes is giving his take on how crazy, sexy, and cool he likes his women. On the album's closer "Sumthin Wicked This Way Come", Outkast's own Andre 3000 opens the track touching on gang violence and how he wouldn't be here if he made the wrong choices. More credit should be given to TLC for the popularization of hip hop soul. They perfected that sound and balanced it out well amongst the trio. This album has sold almost 15 million copies worldwide making it the top selling female group album in America and the 2nd highest worldwide. This album is still going strong musically 23 years later and aging well, which makes it timeless.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
-For me, this album was a testament to not only the musical execution of TLC, but to the greatness of Babyface. While many loved the Organized Noize produced mega hit "Waterfalls", or the bouncy Dallas Austin produced "Creep", my favorite songs on the album were produced and written by Babyface. Whether it was the instantly recognizable Babyface on "Let's Do It Again", or the seductive sound of "Red Light Special", or my absolute favorite, the smooth "Diggin On You", Babyface gifted the trio with some of his greatest creations as a songwriter and producer. However, while Babyface was the genius behind the songs, there's no way those songs would have worked if they were delivered by anyone else. These songs had to be made by TLC, and they were the perfect fit for the amazing Babyface sound.

Aside from those songs, I really enjoyed the Andre 3000 verse on "Sumthin Wicked This Way Comes", as I found it to be one of his best and a gem for those who clamor for rarely discussed Andre 3000 verses. Granted, a verse on an album that sold 15 million is not rare, but it tends to be slept on within the history of 3000. I think CrazySexyCool set a new standard for women in R&B and also made other artists take notice of just how powerful these three women. They weren't just faces and voices, they were talented in their own right, and without them, I don't think LaFace Records becomes as big as they did. However, after this album, it was revealed that their label was screwing the ladies over money wise, which probably is the cause of having such a large amount of songwriters and producers to pay on the back end. Whatever the case was on the business end, it has no effect on the music. When it's all said and done, CrazySexyCool is one of the greatest R&B albums in the history of the genre and my personal pick for the greatest R&B album ever from a female group. Scratch that, the greatest album ever, regardless of genre, from a female group. That's historic.



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