Now & Forever: The Hits
One of the most successful female R&B groups of all-time, TLC was a perfect fusion of personalities. With her raspy voice, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins brought a sultry air of experience and wisdom to the group. Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas had a clean and conventional alto that could easily represent the everywoman. Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes was their secret weapon, a mischievous soul who kept the group’s music grounded in hip-hop. Now and Forever charts a decade in which TLC remained on the cutting edge through changing trends. “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg” and “What About Your Friends” are two of the finest exponents of Teddy Riley’s New Jack Swing sound, while “Creep,” “Diggin’ On You,” and “Red Light Special” are seductive pop songs overseen by the master producers Babyface and Dallas Austin. Later fare like “Damaged” and “Turtable” suffers from a move away from R&B and towards acoustic pop, although the smooth Neptunes production “In Your Arms Tonight” is a diamond in the rough. Left Eye’s death in 2002 ended TLC for good, leaving “Waterfalls” as their definitive moment. Over Organized Noize’s backdrop of slow-boiled downhome funk, each group member tells a story about bad choices and tragedy, and It remains one of most organic-sounding and poignant songs to ever reach #1.