CrazySexyCool is the second studio album by American girl group TLC, released on November 15, 1994 by LaFace Records. Following the group's record deal, they released their debut album Ooooooohhh... On the TLC Tip (1992) which was met with positive reviews and commercial success. The following year, the group began working on the follow-up album; however, the production was unproductive due to personal struggles—notably those of group member Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, who was involved in a volatile romantic relationship and struggling with alcoholism. The album's recording lasted until September 1994, with Lopes being forced to have less input due to being in rehab.
|Studio album by TLC|
|Released||November 15, 1994|
|Recorded||Late 1993 – September 1994|
|Singles from CrazySexyCool|
The album saw the group reunite with producers Dallas Austin, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and Jermaine Dupri as well as new collaborators Organized Noize and Chucky Thompson, and also featured contributions from Sean "Puffy" Combs who helped with the notable hip hop soul sound. CrazySexyCool featured hip hop beats, funk, deep grooves, propulsive rhythms and smooth production. The album's lyrical content was seen as a departure from the group's debut and was seen as a coming-of-age project which explored themes such as sexuality, romanticism, inexperience, and youthful optimism.
CrazySexyCool was met with critical acclaim and commercial success, peaking at number three on the Billboard 200, where it spent over two years. It was certified eleven-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), making TLC the first girl group in history to be awarded diamond status. CrazySexyCool has since sold over 14 million copies worldwide, becoming the best-selling album by an American girl group. The album has since been featured on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die and was listed as a "New Classic" by Entertainment Weekly in 2008. The album was also ranked as the seventh best diamond-certified album of all time by Billboard.
On February 28, 1991, Tionne Watkins and Lisa Lopes signed production, management, and publishing deals with Pebbitone, with Perri Reid becoming their general manager. The two-member TLC-Skee made its first recorded appearance on a track for LaFace act Damian Dame's self-titled 1991 LP. Pebbles found the third member in Rozonda Thomas, one of Damian Dame's part-time backup dancers.
Thomas was signed to the act in April 1991, at about which time the group's name was shortened to TLC. To maintain TLC's name as an acronym for the girls' names, Watkins became "T-Boz," Lopes became "Left-Eye," and Thomas became "Chilli." The girls were then signed to LaFace in May through the production deal with Pebbitone; their records would be distributed by Arista Records/BMG. TLC was immediately set up to go into the studio with Reid and Edmonds, Dallas Austin, Jermaine Dupri, and Marley Marl producing their first album, Ooooooohhh... On the TLC Tip. The new trio debuted as backing vocalists on "Rebel (With a Cause)", a track on Jermaine Jackson's sole album for LaFace, You Said (1991).
Production on Ooooooohhh... On the TLC Tip wrapped up in December 1991. The album became a commercial success, peaking at number 14 on the US Billboard 200 and reached the third spot on the R&B Albums chart. According to Nielsen SoundScan it has sold 2.5 million copies in the US. It was eventually certified four-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipping four million copies in the US.
Lopes was often vocal about her personal life and difficult past. She readily admitted that she had come from an abusive, alcoholic background and struggled with alcohol problems herself. These problems became headline news in 1994, when she set fire to Andre Rison's tennis shoes in a bathtub, which ultimately spread to the mansion they shared, destroying it. Lopes claimed that Rison had beaten her after a night out, and she set fire to his shoes to get back at him. However, she said burning down the house was an accident. Lopes later revealed that she did not have a lot of freedom within the relationship and was abused mentally and physically, having released all her frustrations on the night of the fire. Lopes, who was sentenced to five years probation and therapy at a halfway house, was never able to shake the incident from her reputation. Her relationship with Rison continued to make headlines, with rumors of an imminent wedding, later debunked by People magazine.
The album's recording began in late 1993 and continued through till September 1994. The album was recorded at numerous studios, including Doppler Studios, Bosstown Recording Studios, KrossWire Studio and GADaddy's; D.A.R.P.Studios in Atlanta Georgia,; the usic Grinder Studios in Hollywood,;and The Hit Factory, in New York. During the album's recording, Left Eye was forced to have less of an input; during the recording sessions, she had plead guilty to her arson charge and was sent to a rehab facility as punishment. The rehab facility only released her for a couple of recording sessions, during which time she cut just a handful of album-worthy rap verses.
For the album's production and writing, the group worked with producers including Babyface, Dallas Austin, Jermaine Dupri and more. Chilli stated that they had used these producers because they always worked with them stating that they worked with Dallas, Babyface, and Jermaine on the first album "the only thing we had new was Organized Noize." Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest did the interludes, however during the album's recording the band members weren't always in the studio together; sometimes they went in one by one because due to scheduling.
"Waterfalls" was written by group member Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes with Marqueze Etheridge and Organized Noize, who also produced the song. Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas and Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins perform the song with Lopes, who also provides a rap. The background vocals are performed by the members of TLC, as well as Debra Killings and Cee-Lo Green. Speaking of Green's involvement, Watkins said, "He was in Goodie Mob, we grew up together, we go way back. He did and it was amazing! I love his voice." The lyrics of the song reference 1990s issues such as violence associated with illegal drug trade and the HIV/AIDS epidemic. At the end of the second verse, the group sings, "His health is fading and he doesn't know why / Three letters took him to his final resting place." Watkins said that it was important for the group to "get the message across without seeming like preaching."
Music and lyricsEdit
CrazySexyCool was noted as a departure from the group's debut, and was seen as move from the group's predominantly rap connects. The songs on the album contained sensual R&B sounds built over edgy hip-hop beats; containing propulsive rhythms along with clap-commanding high production, bouncy funk elements and smooth rhythms.
The album's lyrical content was also see as an departure from Ooooooohhh... On the TLC Tip. A reviewer from Entertainment Weekly stated that compared to the lyrical content of their debut, which was seen as "kiddie-cute hip-hop", CrazySexyCool is filled with adult-female sexuality, and "hide- and-seek coyness." It was seen as a coming-of-age sophomore album, according to Sheldon Pearce from Consequence of Sound, who stated the album had themes of "guileless and horny twenty something" lyrics that harmlessly explored sexuality and romanticism with the "naïveté that comes from inexperience and youthful optimism." The album lyrics also touch upon themes of relationships from both the impassioned and erotic sides.
Release and promotionEdit
To promote CrazySexyCool, TLC, along with Boyz II Men, Montell Jordan and Mary J. Blige performed in the annual Budweiser Superfest Tour in early 1995, consisting of 23 dates in North America. The Atlanta, Chicago and Indianapolis shows featured an expanded roster of performers, including Blackstreet and Monica.
All four singles from the album reached the top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100, two of them reaching number one.
Lead single, "Creep", topped the Billboard Hot 100 for four weeks, and was one of the biggest singles of 1995, coming in at number three in Billboard Year-End Hot 100 Singles of 1995. It also reached number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
The second single, "Red Light Special", peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, and number three on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
Third single, "Waterfalls", became TLC's most successful song, spending seven weeks at number one. It was also the second-biggest single of 1995 according to Billboard, giving TLC two songs in the Top 3 of the 1995 Billboard Year-End chart. Internationally, the song reached the top 5 of many countries.
"Diggin' on You" was released as the album's fourth and final single, and reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100. It also reached number 7 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.
|Christgau's Consumer Guide||B+|
|Encyclopedia of Popular Music|||
|The Rolling Stone Album Guide|||
The album was met with critical acclaim. In his review for AllMusic, Stephen Thomas Erlewine stated that TLC recorded a "smooth, seductive collection of contemporary soul reminiscent of both Philly soul and Prince," and that the material was "consistently strong". Erlewine continued to write that the album is "powered" by new jack swing and hip-hop beats with influences of mid-tempo funk, deep grooves, horns and guitar lines. He also referred to "Waterfalls" as "one of the classic R&B songs of the '90s".
In 2010, Rolling Stone listed the album at number 43 on their "100 Greatest Albums of the 90s". They stated: "Left Eye, Chilli and T-Boz looked like a one-shot when they first emerged from the nascent Atlanta with 1992's Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg. But CrazySexyCool was a real shocker, packed bumper to bumper with great songs, sassy vocals and voluptuous beats for burning down the house. 'Creep' celebrates the kicks of illicit lust on the down low, 'Waterfalls' digs deep into Memphis soul and 'If I Was Your Girlfriend' does Prince better than The Artist has all decade. The showstopper: 'Red Light Special', an impossibly steamy make-out ballad that undresses and caresses everyone with ears to hear it. CrazySexyCool established TLC as pop pros who could do it all, combining the body slam of hip-hop and the giddy uplift of a jump-rope rhyme without breaking a nail."
In a 2015 article for Consequence of Sound, music critics Michael Madden and Sheldon Pearce write about how the album has impacted artists well into today's era whose R&B sound has been heavily influenced by strong hip-hop elements. "There should probably be more talk of TLC's role in forging the current R&B landscape, which is heavily, if not entirely, influenced by hip-hop culture now. The two genres have seemingly been grafted onto one another, and there's something of a codependent relationship between the two. To that effect, there's something to be said for that dynamic existing here, too, how the album's sequencing contributes to the music's effectiveness and how it still translates to the modern day."
CrazySexyCool debuted at number 15 on the US Billboard 200, selling 77,500 copies in its first week. On the issue dated July 29, 1995, the album peaked at number three with 117,000 units sold. It was certified eleven-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on July 2, 1999, with sales of over 7,600,000 copies domestically,[a] becoming the best-selling album by a girl group in the country. Internationally, it reached number one in New Zealand, as well as the top five in Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. By November 2014, CrazySexyCool had sold over 14 million copies worldwide, becoming the second best-selling album by a girl group, behind the Spice Girls' Spice.
CrazySexyCool was nominated for six Grammy Awards at the 1996 Grammy Awards. "Waterfalls" was nominated for the Record of the Year. Two of the album's nominations were for its songwriters: Dallas Austin for "Creep", and Babyface for "Red Light Special". TLC ended up winning two awards, Best R&B Album and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for "Creep."
TLC also received multiple wins and nominations at the Billboard Music Awards, American Music Awards and Soul Train Music Awards, including Artist of the Year at the 1995 Billboard Music Awards. At the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards, TLC won four awards for the video to "Waterfalls," including Video of the Year and the Viewer's Choice Award.
|1.||"Intro-lude" (featuring Phife)||
|3.||"Kick Your Game"||
|4.||"Diggin' on You"||Babyface||Babyface||4:14|
|5.||"Case of the Fake People"||Austin||Austin||4:04|
|6.||"CrazySexyCool – Interlude"||
|7.||"Red Light Special"||Babyface||Babyface||5:03|
|10.||"Let's Do It Again"||
|11.||"If I Was Your Girlfriend"||Prince||
|12.||"Sexy – Interlude"||
|13.||"Take Our Time"||
|14.||"Can I Get a Witness – Interlude" (featuring Busta Rhymes)||
|16.||"Sumthin' Wicked This Way Comes" (featuring André of OutKast)||
- ^a signifies a co-producer.
- The single vinyl LP edition omits "Case of the Fake People" and "Intermission-lude".
|Australia (ARIA)||2× Platinum||140,000^|
|Austria (IFPI Austria)||Gold||25,000*|
|Canada (Music Canada)||8× Platinum||800,000^|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||Platinum||15,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Platinum||300,000^|
|United States (RIAA)||11× Platinum||11,000,000^|
*sales figures based on certification alone
- As of January 2015, CrazySexyCool had sold 7,600,000 copies in the US according to Nielsen SoundScan, with an additional 1,270,000 sold at BMG Music Clubs. Nielsen SoundScan does not count albums sold through clubs like the BMG Music Service, which were significantly popular in the 1990s.
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