A decade ago today, TLC rapper Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, the most volatile and outspoken member of the platinum R&B trio, passed away following a car accident in Honduras. She was 30 years old. Lopes left behind a legacy of controversy (in 1994, she famously set her NFL player boyfriend’s house on fire) and huge hits (TLC notched four number ones and sold 22 million albums in the nine years they were together).
Now TMZ is reporting that surviving members Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas are planning a reunion tour that would incorporate Left Eye into the show via archival footage. It’s not the same as Dr. Dre resurrecting Tupac for a drop-in, but it does further the idea that death need not be the end of a performer’s on-stage life.
Following Lopes’ death, Watkins and Thomas finished the group’s final album 3D without her. Though it was unclear whether or not the group would have stayed together had Left Eye survived the car crash; in a notorious statement published in the pages of Entertainment Weekly, she challenged her other two bandmates (plus producer Dallas Austin) to a showdown where the victor would be decided by album sales.
“I challenge Tionne ‘Player’ Watkins and Rozonda ‘Hater’ Thomas to an album entitled The Challenge, a 3-CD set that contains three solo albums,” she wrote. “I also challenge producer Dallas ‘The Manipulator’ Austin to produce all of the material and do it at a fraction of his normal rate. As I think about it, I’m sure LaFace would not mind throwing in a $1.5 million dollar prize for the winner.”
Lopes was never given the lead on any of the biggest TLC songs (in fact, her rap on “No Scrubs” was jettisoned from the single version, meaning most people never got to hear her contribution), but her personality was so huge that she was often considered the most popular member of the trio. Her first and only solo project was constantly delayed around the turn of the century, and it ultimately faltered at radio and never came out in the United States (rightfully so, many would agree).
Still, she was hugely influential on female MCs, and her influence can still be felt on the radio today (just listen to a Nicki Minaj or Karmin track and tell us you don’t hear echoes there).
What are your favorite Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes moments? And would you go see the TLC reunion? Creep around in the comments.
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