(Author’s note: This month, Hannah, Kiara and myself will be introducing and reviewing albums, old and new, that we really love and think you’ll enjoy on Thursdays. Music is an awesome, special creation because it brings like minded individuals and even those who weren’t interested before into a community, so, join our little cult of cool and clashing tunes.)

(collages created by Justine)

This album is one of my favourites and one of the first CDs I was given. ‘Ooooooohhh…On the TLC Tip’ is an older album, released in 1992, when some of us were drooling and most of us weren’t even born. This is the ultimate girl power album and feminist classic. It covers such topics as being yourself, being in a relationship, realizing who your true friends are, advocating safe sex and just being funky. The album is primarily beat based and is heavy on sampled songs, but a few tracks you’ll find some bass, synths, strings and piano. I’m just going to introduce you guys to my six favourite songs on the album because a track by track review is way too much when an album is 16 songs!

Ain’t 2 Proud To Beg– This is my favourite song, but, how could it now be? It’s a fun, danceable track about not being ashamed of what you want. T-boz opens the song with her cool, unmistakeable, distinct vocals speaking on loving yourself, but, also on how society tells us that we can’t be ‘happy alone.’ The song’s chorus is of the girls shout-singing that gives a sense of community to the song, making you want to join in. The guitar drives this song along with its zany production full of sound effect-like samples, such as an alarm in the chorus. The alarm is the perfect addition to the track because it gives the message of the song a sense of importance. Left-Eye’s verse is short and sweet and hearing her speak about sex with a cartoonish voice makes the song sassier. Her verse is followed by Chilli’s pretty, soulful voice as an agreement and a vocal run of ‘Hey’ that you will definitely join in on. The song is a great anthem of not being ashamed of knowing and asking for what you want. Whether it’s an extra serving of fries or some lovin’ in the bedroom (Get both).’

(tlc- advocates for safe sex and havin’ fun)

 Das Da Way We Like Them – This is probably the coolest and slickest song on the album. Throughout the track it echoes an eerily ghost type sound sampled from ‘UFO’ by ESG with a perfectly placed James Brown voice sample of him shouting ‘Yeah!’ from his backing band for Lyn Collin’s ‘Think (About It)’. Each gal from TLC gets their own verse to rap about themselves and the certain type of dudes they like which leads to a chorus, reminiscent of a gospel choir. The end of the song is the simply the cutest with the girls giving shout-outs to all their friends, producers and even their moms. They’re happy babes on their first record, so oblivious to how famous they’ll be later on in their careers. Make up your own verse and rap along with them ‘cuz that’s the way you’re livin’.

What About Your Friends? – Can you already guess what this one is about?  The song kicks off with a guitar riff sampled from James Brown’s ‘Blues and Pants’ along with the heavy bass played by Kayo Watkins (T-boz’s brother) and drum samples from ‘Sing A Simple Song’ by Sly and the Family Stone. TLC speaks on whether your friends are there for you during big changes in their life. Being the cornerstone of your friends can be hard and when things get hard for you, will those you helped be there for you? For them, it was the signing to Laface Records, adjusting to being the public’s eye and becoming famous, but, for us, its changes in our lifestyle, choices and beliefs that may differ from our friends.

His Story – The feminist jam, guys. The combination of hand drums, piano and strings with Left Eye’s spoken piece introduces us to the seriousness of the song. This isn’t like the previous, fun, care-free songs on the album. TLC speaks on the double standard and images women are told to uphold in society and the depressing fact that women’s opinions are not taken as seriously. At the end, Left-Eye gives us the most important piece that we need to take from the song: ‘Do what’s not expected’. Don’t let society walk over you; speak out against its injustices.

(happy babes at the 1995 mtv music awards)
(happy babes at the 1995 mtv music awards)

Bad By Myself– I’m sure a lot of first reactions to the song is that it’s sounds very Michael Jackson inspired and I still think it’s a Jackson song anytime it starts to play. The song itself is a very bass driven and the production is heavily sampled. The prominent drums are straight from the Esther Williams’ ‘Last Night Changed It All’, the sax borrowed from Main Source’s ‘Peace Is Not The Word Play’, the bell-like sounds from ‘Peter Piper’ by Run DMC and if you listen carefully, you can hear a looped sample of the beats from ‘Welcome to the Terrordome’ by Public Enemy (even I had to listen hard for that one). All of the songs mashed together are perfection and require a very trained ear (or in this case, eight of the best in the business at that time!) for it to work without it sounding sloppy. The song talks about the independence you have after a break up. The strong, snapping beats are the highlight of the song and the use of the vocals ‘oohing’ remind you of playground girls banding together to make fun of the ‘mean’ boy. The song also has some of my favourite sound effect-like samples on the album. The use of speedy boinging samples simulate the crashing halt of the dead relationship and the sample of a phone ringing shows how ‘in demand’ they are. If the person you’re with isn’t cutting it, let them go with no worry because you seriously don’t need ‘em. It may not be immediately evident to you, but the phone is always ringing with new people to meet. It’s the perfect non-mopey break-up song or the perfect ‘I’m single and I’m happy and it’s not shocking!’ song.

(another crazy sexy cool collage from Justine)

Baby-Baby-Baby– Guys, I cannot tell you how much I love this song, like, it pains me, how much I love this song. Learn the lyrics, sing it to your significant other and watch their reaction, it’s too good. The chilled out track is a reminder to whoever you’re dating that you are hot shit. You’re a dream babe and they’re replaceable if they mess with you; the track’s strong, snapping beats reinforce that point. The addition of the piano shows the sweetness of the girls talking about the love they have in them, yet, the accidental (the part that sounds like the piano player made a mistake) played at the end of each phrase reminds us of their spunkiness. It’s the perfect sassy love song and the perfect end to my selected track-by-track review.

There are so many more amazing songs on this album; I could go on and on. Seriously, I really could, I don’t think the site has enough space for me obsessing over TLC. This is an album that makes my day go from horrible to better. Most of the songs are upbeat, cheeky and make you want to shake it, but then there are some songs that are slower, more serious and make you think. Isn’t that what you want out of an album? Having fun, but, also, being a bit enlightened? This album is perfect for your ‘90s Summer Jam house party, your road trip with the girls, your ménage-a-une Risky Business-esque dance party or gettin’ your Christopher Walken ‘Weapon of Choice’ on. I guarantee after listening to this album, you’ll be ‘Ooooooohhh…On the TLC Tip’. That was lame, wasn’t it? Good. Get excited, get ready and press play.

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May 9, 2013

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