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CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story movie, which premiered Oct. 21, 2013, gave an in-depth view into each TLC member’s lives. The movie didn't hold back showing how the girls were swindled out of their money by La Face, Chilli’s abortion, T-Boz’s battle with sickle cell anemia, and Left-Eye burning down her boyfriend, Andre Rison’s house. The movie captured the desire of three young women to be entertainers, to be famous, and sacrificing to be on stage.
The original TLC group was T-Boz, Left-Eye, and a woman named Crystal, but later Rozanda Thomas aka Chilli became Crystal’s replacement. Chilli is a nickname Left-Eye gave her to complete the name TLC. The day Left-Eye was picked by their manager Pebbles was the very day she found out that her dad had passed away.
To see how well the girls gelled together, Pebbles had them practice for the song “What About Your Friends” in which Left-Eye showcased her talent as a rapper. Seeing that the girls worked well together while individuality bringing different talents to the group, Pebbles gave them a contract. They were paid a weekly stipend of $25, which would not cover expenses in today’s economy. However, the young women were so excited to be one step closer to their dream that they signed the contract.
Stipulations were verbally added later by Pebbles, such as they would be docked $5 dollars if they cursed because she wanted them to be aware of their image. “You represent my label and I want you to be the best you can be,” she told them. Pebbles also told them that she wanted to them to see her as a a big sister that was guiding them in an industry that chews out women without a second glance.
Chilli began a relationship with the producer for La Face, Dallas Austin, a relationship that caused her to get kicked out of the group, temporarily, when Pebbles caught them kissing. Fortunately for Chilli, Pebbles could not find anyone good enough to replace her, so the young woman was brought back to the group. However, Chilli then found out the good news she was pregnant with Dallas' baby.
Although she wanted to keep the baby, she knew that she couldn’t because as Austin stated the pregnancy would affect her career more than it would his. Chilli made the heart-breaking decision to abort her baby, a scene that Keke Palmer played so well.
While shooting the video for “What About Your Friends,” the group decided to add condoms to the video as a way to raise awareness about safe sex, especially for young girls. The girl group made hit after hit; reaching the number one spot on the charts, yet they were not getting a dime. Tired of it, Left-Eye asked Pebbles, “So why we ain’t rich yet?” Pebbles gave them an unsatisfactory answer and Left-Eye asked to view their contract. Pebbles manipulated them by playing the pity card, “You don’t think I’m taking care of you?”
The conversation with Pebbles caused the girls not to mention the contract for a while. After a concert, T-boz fainted and was rushed to the hospital.
At the hospital, the group finds out that T-Boz has sickle cell anemia, something she had since she was young. The doctor told T-Boz that her life expectancy was 20 years and she would never have children. T-Boz refused to take the doctor’s words as final, as she had enough of people telling her what she couldn’t do, but she always proved them wrong and sickle cell was not going to stop her from being on stage. Pebbles, who constantly told the girls to look at her as a big sister, wanted T-Boz to be ready for the next concert the day after she was in the hospital - talk about caring.
The group went platinum, selling more than 1 million records, still having the same contract and no money. Pebbles got them cars as a reward, but the girls still wondered about their contract and decided to see their lawyer. When they met with the lawyer they found out that the lawyer was representing both them and Pebbles. The lawyer explained to them the expenses they had to pay back: rehearsal, travel, along with double fees paid to Pebbles. The girls decided to meet with L.A. Reid and tell him that they no longer wanted to work with Pebbles. However, since Pebbles created the name “TLC” it belonged to her.
Unfortunately whether they worked with Pebbles or not, they would continue not to make any money due to the way their contract was set up. Chilli resumed her relationship with Dallas even though she knew she shouldn’t. “I know I shouldn’t be with him, but it’s like I can’t stay away,” she said. However, Dallas proved not to be faithful when he got another woman pregnant, which broke Chilli’s heart. The song “Creep,” which Dallas produced, held a deeper meaning about Chilli’s relationship with him. After the song, he asked Chilli for a second chance, most likely thinking that she was indeed creeping just like him.
The movie showed how Left-Eye met Andre Rison. Before long the two began a serious relationship, until Left-Eye came home and saw him with another woman. Enraged, she slapped the woman and Rison before storming out of the house, only to come back the next day and see Rison gone, but there were a lot of purchases, for himself, on his bed. Upset, she set the purchases on fire. T-Boz heard the news of fire on TV and called Chilli, and both girls went to find the third member of their group.
Left-Eye turned herself in and explained that she didn’t mean to burn his house down; she just wanted to make a statement. “That I’m here. I got all these people around me and no one is listening. I’m not invisible you know. I’m right here," she said.
The song “Waterfall” came out after the incident and was number one on the Billboard chart for seven weeks straight. The girls were still penniless despite winning many awards. They decided to tell the world about their financial situation during an award show. Tired of asking questions and not getting answers, they decided to storm into La Face with a few friends and demand what was owed to them. When they received their money, they had to file bankruptcy and owed the company more than $100,000.
Speculations from fans and outsiders poured in during a radio segment with the group as to how they became bankrupt. Left-Eye explained in detail how their financial situation transpired. They found another manager called Mr. Diggens, who promised them what others managers couldn’t. While their financial situations seemed to be looking up; Chili became pregnant with Dallas again, but chose to keep the baby, T-Boz found love with Mack10, and Left-Eye found happiness with a guy named Larry, but there was still tension in the group.
Left-Eye felt her ideas or inputs were not taken seriously or taken into consideration at all. Left-Eye’s boyfriend Larry began telling her to branch out on her own and she began expressing that sentiment publicly.
In Vibe magazine she challenged each member of TLC to do a solo album and see whose album sold the best. A compromise was made and the video for “No Scrubs” had the galactic futuristic feel that Left-Eye always wanted. Their album Fanmail, which was dedicated to their fans, sold over 8 million copies.
Their manager wanted them to do 10 more tours, but Left-Eye wanted to go to Honduras to get her spiritual healing. She went to Honduras and began recording diaries of her feeling at peace, “I let everything go, I let everything down. I’m just myself… I can meditate and think before I do things.”
Lil Mama played Left-Eye so well in every scene that it seemed this role was destined for her. She mimicked Left-Eye from the way she talked, acted, her mannerisms, and more that it was just eerie. It was like looking at Left-Eye all over again.
The most heart-breaking scene came when Chilli got the phone call that Left-Eye died in a car crash. Keke Palmer’s crying scene was one of the best; Drew Sidora played a sobbing T-Boz great as well. Pebbles showed up to the funeral. News clips of Left-Eye's passing was shown in the movie, making viewers relive the moment.
The movie ended with Chilli and T-Boz 10 years later, with T-Boz already having a child, and catching up on old times. They enter into the studio that they used to record in when they were TLC and begin recording a new song called “Meant to Be” as pictures of them with Left-Eye were shown.
The casting for the movie was perfect and each actress Keke Palmer, Drew Sidora, and Lil Mama, did an excellent job of portraying each member.
Photo courtesy of Amazon.