What Prompted TLC to Lose Their ‘CrazySexyCool’ in VH1 Biopic?

TLC 'CrazySexyCool'
Courtesy of VH1
October 21, 2013 10:50 AM ET

There's a scene in the VH1 movie "CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story" that is reminiscent of the female bank-heist film Set It Off.

Upset that they had not been appropriately compensated for the sales of their sophomore album, "CrazySexyCool," the members of TLC held Clive Davis, then president of Arista Records, hostage and demanded payment.

They stormed the label with a group of female convicts and confiscated all the TLC paraphernalia in sight.

The scene is one of the most shocking moments in the film, which premieres on VH1 Monday at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

The depiction is based on a true story, members Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas and Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins told Yahoo Music in an exclusive interview.

"First of all it's funny because people get to see that in the movie, but I personally would have liked it if it would have showed a little bit more of that because that was a serious thing that we went through," Thomas said. "We talked about that."

Late TLC member Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, who died in a 2002 car crash, recruited their tough-girl backup from the halfway house where she served five months in 1994 for burning down her ex-boyfriend Andre Rison's million-dollar mansion, the surviving members said.

[Related: KeKe Palmer Talks Playing Chilli in CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story]

Frustrated with being given conflicting information regarding who controlled their payments, the women sought out the man in charge.

"'Cause we got tired of it," Thomas said. "It's like, 'OK, is it Arista? Is it LaFace [Records]? Who is it?' So we go to the top, right on up there to Clive, and we really did. We told [the girls] if you see anything that says TLC, I don't care if it's a picture, it's ours."

The "CrazySexyCool" album made $75 million, but the three members of TLC were paid only $50,000 each, Watkins said on "The Mo'Nique Show" in 2009.

Watch TLC confront Clive Davis in"CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story" trailer at 1:12 mark:

When their financial disputes led them to court, they were asked to return some of the items they confiscated from the company offices, Thomas told Yahoo Music.

"When we filed bankruptcy, we were in court, Arista wanted their plaques back, and we said, 'Well, go to the hood. Get it. Good luck with that,'" Thomas said.

"We gave them away to everybody in the projects," Watkins said. "They were so excited."

"So they kinda take that as a loss," Thomas added.

Thomas and Watkins open up about several other aspects of the movie in the three-part interview, including casting Lil Mama as Lopes, KeKe Palmer as Thomas and Drew Sidora as Watkins. Lil Mama's audition impressed them.

"We thought it was going to be harder to find Lisa, but that was the easiest," Watkins said. "Her real eyes are like hazel and she came in with these black, big contacts like Lisa's real eyes, beautiful."

The cast remade many of the videos for their hits, "Waterfalls," "No Scrubs," and "Creep," but it was the re-creation of their 1992 debut "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg" that impressed them the most.

The movie culled a lot of emotions, some so strong that Thomas and Watkins elected not to come on set for three scenes: an abortion Thomas had at the start of their career, Watkins's sickle-cell anemia scare, and Lopes's funeral.


"Just going through the script with the ladies, we had to relive it enough just doing that," Watkins said. "Just past the words, we wanted to make them understand the feeling behind each of the scenes, why we were angry or passionate about certain things, so they could play better roles."


Thomas and Watkins are definitely passionate about the Ne-Yo-produced "Meant To Be," the only new song that appears on the soundtrack.

"Our manager showed [Ne-Yo] the trailer, and he grabbed the word 'MTB' and three days later, he came back and had a song that actually explained our 20 years together in one song," Watkins said. "I had tears in my eyes. I was like, 'OMG.' It just took me down memory lane, and all the pain, the triumph, the struggle."

TLC has also recorded about a dozen more songs for a full album due out next year. Lady Gaga wrote one of the tracks. Their longtime producer Dallas Austin revealed the record during a studio session.

"'I have a Gaga song that she sang like TLC that TLC inspired,'" Watkins said, recalling a conversation with Austin. "'[Gaga's] a really big fan. But she didn't want to insult you guys by putting it out.'"

Austin arranged for Gaga and Watkins to meet, resulting in the decision for TLC to record the song, "POSH Life," an acronym for "Passionately Only Serving Him." "It's deep," Watkins said.

The other recordings are said to have the classic TLC sound. "We definitely have a lot of girl-power-type songs," Watkins said.

Watch Yahoo Music's exclusive three-part interview with TLC members Chilli and T-Boz:

Follow me on Facebook, Twitter.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

Yahoo Hip Hop Next

blog comments powered by Disqus
Around the Web
Powered By ZergNet
Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.


We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“Hungry Like the Wolf”

Duran Duran | 1982

This indulgent New Romantic group generated their first U.S. hit with the help of what was at the time new technology. "Simon [Le Bon] and I, I think, had been out the night before and had this terrible hangover," said keyboardist Nick Rhodes. "For some reason we were feeling guilty about it and decided to go and do some work." Rhodes started playing with his Jupiter-8 synth, and then "Simon had an idea for a lyric, and by lunchtime when everyone else turned up, we pretty much had the song." The Simmons drumbeat was equally important to the sound of "Hungry Like the Wolf," as Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor stated it "kind of defined the drum sound for the Eighties."

More Song Stories entries »