Who Are The Five Most Important People Behind TLC’s Career?

When TLC burst on the scene in 1992, they pretty much blew our minds. But before we all got a taste of their talent, their potential attracted a dream team of writers, musicians, and producers that helped propel the group to stardom.

So who were the heavy-hitters who helped build TLC’s success? Browse through the pages to see who steered the trio’s early career!

And don’t forget to watch CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story at 9/8C tonight only on VH1.

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Perri “Pebbles” Reid

Though Perri “Pebbles” Reid is credited with discovering TLC, many fans of the girl group don’t know that Pebbles had a successful singing career of her own in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

She released Pebbles, her first solo effort in 1987 and churned out the hits “Mercedes Boy” and “Girlfriend.” She wrote many of the tracks on the album, solidifying her reputation as a songwriter, and notably worked with Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and future husband Antonio “L.A.” Reid.

In 1989, Pebbles had a big year: She married L.A. Reid and started her Pebbitone production company in Atlanta, while he founded LaFace Records with Babyface. Even while managing her new business, Pebbles released her second album, Always.

Her new foray into production led her to a young girl group who auditioned for her in the early ‘90s. Pebbles saw promise in the trio and had them perform for her husband. With the release of Ooooooohhh…On the TLC Tip, the couple introduced the world to TLC in 1992. At that time, Pebbles served as the trio’s manager.

While riding the wave of success from TLC’s second LP, CrazySexyCool, the group filed for bankruptcy and accused Pebbles of mismanaging their funds. They also felt they weren’t receiving a fair share of monies under their LaFace contract, and eventually renegotiated the deal. By 1997, Pebbles was pretty much out of the picture — not to mention that her marriage to L.A. Reid was on the rocks.

So what has Pebbles been up to since then? She dedicated her life to her religion and left the secular music game. Still very much an entrepreneur, she founded and led her own church.

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Antonio “L.A.” Reid

As one of LaFace Records’ founders, L.A. Reid was instrumental in starting careers for some of the ‘90s biggest R&B stars, including Toni Braxton, Usher, and TLC.

In the ‘80s, Reid was a member of a band called The Deele, where he met Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds. After the group disbanded, the two worked with various artists and founded their own label in 1989. LaFace Records, based in Atlanta, was backed by Arista Records.

Through his wife Pebbles, Reid met TLC and began prepping the group for their future stardom. In addition to established producers, Reid recruited Dallas Austin and Jermaine Dupri to round out the girl group’s style for their first album, Ooooooohhh…On the TLC Tip. The LP eventually went platinum.

LaFace remained formidable as TLC released their smash album, CrazySexyCool, in 1994. But as the trio gained more fame, they wanted additional compensation for their output. Their 1995 bankruptcy filing led to a revised contract with LaFace. Around this time, Reid had separated from Pebbles. The label’s stature decreased in the late ‘90s as Reid and Babyface locked horns, wanting to take their careers in different directions.

But don’t cry for L.A. Reid — he’s definitely still a boss. A bonafide music mogul, he was one of the judges on the U.S. version of X Factor and is now the CEO of Epic Records.

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Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds

Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, and producer Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds has been in the music game since he was a teen. Known for his own studio albums, his talent is also evident on the LPs of many artists, including Bobby Brown, Whitney Houston, and Madonna. He served as a producer on TLC’s albums.

By the time Babyface founded LaFace with L.A. Reid in 1989, he’d already cemented his place in the music industry. His successful sophomore solo album, Tender Lover, was released that year and generated hits such as the title track and “Whip Appeal.”

Though Babyface was an executive producer on Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip, he became a heavier creative force on CrazySexyCool, writing and producing many tracks. He wrote “Red Light Special” and “Diggin’ On You,” two of the album’s popular singles.

Later in the ‘90s, Babyface wanted to increase his creative output, causing tension with Reid. Their rift eventually led to the dissolution of LaFace Records.

In the years since, Babyface definitely hasn’t slowed down. He’s still recording albums, has worked with Lil Wayne (yes, that Lil Wayne), and recently produced Ariana Grande’s album, Yours Truly.

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Dallas Austin

Though Dallas Austin is now one of the most sought-after producers in the game, he was a new jack on the scene when he began work on TLC’s debut album, Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip. Along with Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, he wrote many of the album’s tracks including “Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg” and “What About Your Friends.”

While maintaining ties with LaFace and TLC, Austin branched out to form his own record label and recruit other producers. He was also in a relationship with Rozanda “Chilli” Thomas.

Austin’s contributions on CrazySexyCool included the wildly successful single “Creep” and a cover version of Prince’s “If I Was Your Girlfriend.” He was the executive producer on 1999’s FanMail, writing and producing many of the album’s songs.

Though tension with Lopes became apparent after FanMail’s success, the group’s other members reunited with her and Austin to record tracks for 2002’s 3D. Lopes tragically died months before the album’s release.

Since then, Dallas Austin has produced tracks for some of music’s biggest acts, with songs by Pink, Monica, and Gwen Stefani under his belt.

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Jermaine Dupri Mauldin

Though he’s primarily known for heading up So So Def Recordings, Jermaine Dupri was also one of the producers that helped TLC hone their distinct sound.

While making his name on Atlanta’s music scene in the early ‘90s, Dupri was tapped to work on TLC’s Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip. In addition to production, he also had arranging and mixing credits on the LP. He also helped pen the album cut “Bad By Myself.”

When he regrouped with L.A. Reid, Babyface, and Dallas Austin to work on CrazySexyCool, Dupri had already founded So So Def and hit paydirt with Kris Kross, Xscape, and Da Brat. Dupri lent his writing and production talents to album cuts, but also worked on the LP’s final mastering and mixing. He also contributed to 1999’s FanMail, notably with former Xscape member Kandi Burruss.

Jermaine Dupri remains one of the hottest producers out there, having previously worked with Boyz II Men, Usher, and Lil’ Kim. Mariah Carey recently hired him as her manager.

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