The beautiful Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas not only graces the newest issue of Rolling Out magazine. She reminisces over the past two decades of her career with best selling female group, TLC, the trials and tribulations including Left Eye’s tragic death, the group’s upcoming VH1 biopic and even thank rappers like J. Cole and Drake for their positivity.
On wanting To Do A TLC Movie:
“I’m very proud of [the film]” she says. “It was something that I’ve always wanted for my group. The right time presented itself, and so that’s why it’s happening. I just watched one of the last edits this past weekend and it was exactly the way I wanted it.”
On The TLC Legacy:
“We kind of just put ourselves out there,” Chilli says. “Whether it was interviews or the songs we sang about. I think people knew that we were all about girl power. We’ve been called feminists, and we are a little bit, but not to the extreme that some people may think. We’ve been called ‘male bashers,’ but we’re definitely not male bashers. We just talked about things from a woman’s perspective. And a lot of our songs aren’t just for girl power, it’s just power for everybody.
“I think when we had songs out at the time, it seems like you could turn on the radio and hear positive messages — as well as some that weren’t so positive,” she adds. “It seems to me that that’s missing. Every now and again you’ll have an artist who puts out that kind of record — I think Katy Perry does it and definitely Kelly Clarkston. But I think it’s missing. I don’t think you can have too many uplifting songs. Everyone in the world needs that.”
On J. Cole’s Own Positive Influence On Hip Hop:
“I think that’s why we were so excited to work with J. Cole — because [the song] ‘Crooked Smile’ was … basically [him] saying ‘Embrace your imperfections.’ I was really happy that a rapper took that approach,” she says.
“I have to give a big thanks to artists like Drake,” Chilli states. “He has a huge following and because he loves ’90s music, that also introduces those artists to a younger generation. He did a cover of one of our songs, ‘Fan Mail,’ and that introduced us to fans who may not have known that record.”
On What The TLC Legacy Means Today:
“I’m very happy that they can go to YouTube and discover all of our videos and stuff,” she says. “All of that is what helped to introduce [younger fans] to us. Especially the girls, once they see what we were all about and how fun the videos were, it’s fresh to them. Because it’s not something they’re seeing right now. When I have a 13-year-old send me a message on Twitter, that’s crazy to me. It lets me know that the music and the things that we said weren’t in vain; it’s still able to live and make a difference in a generation that wasn’t born when we first came out.”
“What I really want people to know is that we would not have done the [movie] deal if we were not going to be 100 percent involved,” she explains. “It wouldn’t make sense. Being involved and writing the script with [screenwriter] Kate Lanier, casting, being on set every day — the girls spent a lot of time with us. Especially Lil Mama, because we had to be Lisa’s voice. Aside from hanging out with us, they did their research. They went online, studied interviews and our mannerisms and a lot of stuff. We shared things with them so they could truly understand how we felt and really transform into those characters. Besides that — and a good team of hair and makeup — it turned out really good!”
On Left Eye’s Death, What She’s Learned & Working On A New Album:
“Losing a sister made us realize that tomorrow is not promised,” she shares. “Tonight is not promised. … You always hear people say that ‘tomorrow is not promised,’ but it takes something to hit you close to home to make you understand it. I hate that it took that. But we don’t go too long without talking to each other.”
“We’re group members; we’re sisters,” she adds. “Right now, we’re just working really hard to finish our album and this movie. We’re in work mode.
“I hope that they see how hard we’ve worked — and still work — in this business. And how we stood up for what we believed in even when it meant ‘If y’all do this or y’all don’t want to put on dresses, you can’t get the cover of this magazine or perform on this show,’ We really believed in what we were putting out; we weren’t just some put-together group. Even if someone never becomes a fan of TLC, I hope they develop respect for us. We broke boundaries — not just [because we’re] female, but we’re black.
“Whatever your dream is, as long as you’re not hurting anyone around you, go hard,” Chilli advises. “Because you’re going to hear more ‘nos’ than ‘yesses.’ The best revenge is success. Even if someone doesn’t let you know to your face that they respect you, they’ll develop respect. Then, even the haters [will] have to give it up for you.”
To read the entire article head over to Rolling Out.