Stars Reflect On What Makes TLC’s ‘CrazySexyCool’ So Damn Amazing 20 Years Later

CrazySexyCool, the smash album from iconic trio TLC, recently reached its 20th anniversary—so obviously this calls for a celebration. The group changed pop and R&B history because of the record, featuring unforgettable hits like “Creep” and “Waterfalls.” Keke Palmer, who played Rozanda ’Chili’ Thomas in the VH1 biopic CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story, explains the impact TLC had on her life and why the group was unlike any other.

What was your reaction to CrazySexyCool when it was released?

Unfortunately, I was a baby, about one year old, haha. I imagine I enjoyed it!

What made TLC so iconic?

“Creep” and “Scrubs.” In “Creep,” it was super sexy that they were in over-sized sleepwear. The silk made it sexy, as did their moves. I loved the futuristic look in “Scrubs.”

What do you think makes CrazySexyCool so timeless?

The authenticity to each girl. They all had their own style which is reflected in the songs.

What influence did it have on your life and career?

The group’s success in general inspired me, as a female, to know that I didn’t have to be afraid to say what was on my mind and it was OK to be real.

Go to the next page for a special interview with ’90s legend Montell Jordan, who also has a big celebration upon him – the 20th anniversary of ’This Is How We Do It.’

What was your reaction to CrazySexyCool when it was released?

Montell Jordan: My reaction was probably like many others. I was like, “Oh snap! They’re girls!” I was so used to the tomboy, baggy pants, Hat-2-Da-Back style of songs and presentation that when they arrived on their second album release with songs like “Red Light Special,” that’s when I realized they were actually women.

What made TLC so iconic?

The most iconic song from the album was easily “Waterfalls.” The music video had Terminator II-like graphics that were in line with what Hollywood was doing in big feature films. Lots of money was being spent on music videos at this time, so this big-budget submission made a huge splash as we got to see three women practically walking on water.

What do you think makes CrazySexyCool so timeless?

The clever musical writing styles were used to create daily terminology, redefining the way people communicated. Cheating was referred to as “Creeping” after TLC. Being attracted to someone became “Diggin’ on You” and sex was referred to in terms of “Red Light Special.” Dallas Austin and others used the lyrics to impact everyday communication for those in the Hip Hop and R&B culture, as well as the pop music world. CrazySexyCool presented moments dealing with parents and children being unable to identify with each other, drug abuse, and addressed the AIDS epidemic, which at that time was unheard of.

Are there any personal stories with TLC you can recall around the time the album came out?

A few months following the release of the CrazySexyCool album in November 1994, my album This Is How We Do It was released in Spring of 1995. As the Summer of 1995 approached, we would all be on tour together with Mary J. Blige and Boyz II Men on arguably one of the largest and most successful tours of that year. I remember during their show they would come out of graffiti designed phone booths to enter the stage and would transform from tomboys to bad girls throughout the performance.

What influence did CrazySexyCool have on your life and career?

MJ: I remember the moment I fully realized AIDS was real, was through their music video. I spent time playing songs with Lisa in her home studio and sharing industry stories before she tragically passed. I became more aware of Sickle Cell Anemia when T-Boz had to leave the tour in 1995 after becoming extremely ill. Chili and I both have kids around the same age who attended the same high school together. I can say their music affected my life, but their lives affected my life.

[Photo Credit: LaFace/Arista/Getty]

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