One year ago, TLC’s fiery Lisa ”Left Eye” Lopes followed up an EW profile of the band with an open letter to us challenging her group mates Rozonda ”Chilli” Thomas and Tionne ”T-Boz” Watkins to a battle of the solo albums; Lopes also proposed that LaFace, TLC’s former label, award a $1.5 million cash prize to the member whose album achieved the greatest commercial success. Lopes’ challenge was summarily rejected by all concerned, but it now looks as if a musical showdown between at least two members of the embattled trio may be in the offing.
Both Lopes and Thomas have begun work on their first solo albums for Arista. (The TLC gals made the move to the label along with onetime LaFace prexy and new Arista head L.A. Reid.) Thomas’ disc will likely be overseen by longtime TLC producer Dallas Austin, while Lopes is opting to use two Atlanta production teams, Cool Ruckus and Twin Dragons. The closemouthed Thomas declines to reveal details of her upcoming album, but the talkative Lopes tells EW her solo salvo, which she will record at her home studio in Atlanta, will be rooted in ”hardcore hip-hop” spiced with ”a few other genres of music.” She also promises a star-studded affair: ”I have a few friends who are going to be on the project, including Lil’ Kim, Prince, and Lenny Kravitz. I hope also Madonna, but she’s not confirmed yet. Oh, and we’re reaching out to Garth Brooks; if he won’t do it, then we’re gonna try and get the Dixie Chicks.”
Lopes says she currently has little communication with the other two thirds of TLC. ”I really don’t know where their heads are at,” she asserts, hastening to add that the group is still a going concern. ”TLC will be putting out a greatest-hits album, and we intend to put two or three new songs on that. Obviously [my solo album] puts a new twist on things, but there definitely will be another [all-new] TLC album, although I don’t see us coming together to record it for another year. Right now, my focus is on my album. Make sure you print this: I plan to change the game.” Games — now there’s a subject Lopes knows about.