TLC’s “FanMail.”

Released: February 23, 1999

Label: LaFace • Arista

Genre: R&B • Hip Hop Soul

Producer: L.A. Reid, Dallas Austin, Babyface, Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs, Cyptron, Jermaine Dupri, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Debra Killings, Ricciano Lumpkins and Daryl Simmons.

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

TLC was a girl group that had a chemistry like no other. The best selling girl group of all time, TLC blazed the charts throughout the 90s like Ain’t 2 Proud 2 Beg, Baby-Baby-Baby, Creep, Waterfalls, & much more.

Selling over 85 million records worldwide, TLC is the best-selling girl group in the United States, and one of the very few groups to receive the RIAA diamond award for their 1994 album CrazySexyCool.

The group released their third studio album FanMail in February of 1999. Their first album in five years, FanMail was everything the world needed at the time especially during the Y2K era. In the world of late 90s teen pop sensations like Britney Spears, N’Sync, & Backstreet Boys, TLC took on the competition by bringing cyber R&B to the forefront of mainstream music!

FanMail’s futuristic look at the digital era was evident throughout the album. Artists like Janet Jackson touched on internet dating with 1997’s The Velvet Rope, but TLC pushed the envelope even further with the aesthetics and themes behind the album.

FanMail was truly ahead of its time when it comes to everything from the cover art which had a custom look to it a binary code that you could decode and the girls in metallic skin tones. The album contained themes of communication, feminism, sexuality, vulnerability, self-reliance & loneliness.

The concept behind FanMail is pretty interesting: the group endured a lot from the last time they released an album: from filing chapter 11 bankruptcy at the peak of their careers and Lisa’s tumultuous relationship with football player Andre Rison which resulted in her burning down his mansion and a rehab stunt.

During those trying times, the group was sent letters of kind words from their devoted fan base (I was a kid so you know I would’ve stepped,) which lead the group..especially Lisa…to name their comeback album FanMail to pay homage to their diehard fans for their support during their hiatus.

The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 & the Top R&B/Hip-Hop charts, becoming their first number one album on both charts. FanMail also sold 318,000 copies its first week, and has been certified 6x platinum by the RIAA. Selling over 14 million copies worldwide, the girls were back in full effect. FanMail the album was nominated for two Grammys for Album of the Year and Best R&B album, winning the latter.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: TLC’s “FanMail.”

FanMail


Written by Dallas Austin

Just like you, I get lonely too…

The title track pays homage to the adoring fans who sent them letters of encouragement during their hiatus after the release of CrazySexyCool. They were so appreciative, that they named every person they could on the whole album cover. Y’all faves need to be like that in today’s time. The song also speaks about loneliness and how computer love has the singer optimistic about meeting said person instead of chatting on the internet. It reminds me so much of Janet Jackson’s Empty from a lyrical standpoint.

FanMail sets the tone for the entire album with the futuristic talking android system Vic-E speaking. It was created as a replacement for Lisa (who refused to work with the group at the time for various reasons,) however she approved of the character and kept it as a character for the album. Dallas Austin used samples from the internet and movies to create a space like sound to show consumers that the album will sound how it looks.

The song was sampled for Drake’s I Get Lonely.

The Vic-E Interpretation (Interlude)


Written by Dallas Austin

In the club, people use material things to increase their chances of a pick up, such as diamond rolexes, Prada bags and Versace outfits. I guess it makes them feel special. In Japan, they just move to the 1 & 2.

Silly Ho


Written by Dallas Austin

Silly Ho is one of my highlights from FanMail. Sent to radio as a promotional single, Silly Ho speaks about how women aren’t here for sexual obligations or relying on a man to buy her what she wants. If he wants a woman like that, there’s tons of ditzy women available for him to seek..or in my voice: a PICK ME! 🗣🗣🗣🗣😭

The song peaked at 21 on the Billboard R&B charts.

Whispering Playa (Interlude)


Written by Dallas Austin & Marshall Martin.

The interlude has a scrub shooting his shot with Left Eye 🤣😅 and failing successfully. The interlude samples U in Me, which was a bonus track.

No Scrubs


Written by Kevin Briggs, Kandi Burruss, Tameka Cottle & Lisa Lopes.

No Scrubs was a moment. A cultural phenomenon. & is STILL a MF song! Originally meant to be recorded by Xscape members Tameka “Tiny” Harris (née Cottle) & Kandi Burruss, No Scrubs is a critique on men at the bottom of the dating pool. TLC was given the song and flipped certain words from the original song and reflected on their independent, confident and bold personas and not wanting to be with a man with no money.

The song has Chilli singing lead, and is one of my favorite songs that she sings lead on. The music video was so iconic, and gave the futuristic vibes that the album gives. It was set in a space station and the group wore metallic outfits. The video version of the song contains a rap verse by Left Eye, however it was not included on the album version.

The reactions to No Scrubs was not received well by men due to women immediately coining men with limited money, ambitions and still live at home with their mama..scrubs. There were tons of answer songs like No Hoochies & No Pigeons. In my personal opinion, I adore the song, because in a world of patriarchy and misogyny (especially in Hip-Hop,) TLC challenged the status quo and did it well. 🤷🏾‍♂️

No Scrubs was certified six times platinum by the RIAA, and peaked at number one on the pop and R&B charts. The song was also nominated for two Grammys at the 2000 Grammy Awards ceremony, winning Best R&B Performance By A Duo or Group With Vocals. The song was also sampled by Ed Sheeran for his 2017 hit Shape of You.

I’m Good At Being Bad


Written by James Harris III, Terry Lewis, Tionne Watkins, Lisa Lopes, Tony Tolbert, Marshall Martin, Giorgio Moroder. Pete Belotte, Donna Summer, Morris Dickerson, Charles Miller, Sylvester Allen, Harold Brown, Howard Scott, Lee Oskar & Leroy Jordan.

Now THIS IS MY SONG Y’ALL!!! Originally titled Bitch Like Me, the song was produced by iconic producers Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis. Inspired by Nirvana’s usage of loud and soft dynamic shifts in their catalog, T-Boz was interested in doing the same for a song on their album. The song begins as a soft like ballad with Chili’s sweet and light vocals, and switches up to a hip hop dynamic with T-Boz rapping the pre chorus rap.

I’m Good At Being Bad peaked in the top 40 on the Billboard R&B charts, and contains samples of Donna Summer’s Love to Love You Baby & War’s Slippin’ Into Darkness.

If They Knew


Written by Dallas Austin, Ricciano Lumpkins, Lisa Lopes, Marshall Martin & Tionne Watkins.

If They Knew was a song about relationships that have cheaters in them (y’all can relate,) and what would happen if the other partners found out about them.

I Miss You So Much


Written by Kenneth Edmonds and Daryl Simmons.

One of the album’s slow ballads. has Chilli singing lead, and she sings about how she really wasn’t looking for love…and she fell madly in love with him. This is truly a flawless record penned by the legendary Babyface and Daryl Simmons!

Unpretty


Written by Dallas Austin and Tionne Watkins

Come on Tionne and her flawless pen! The second single off of the album, Unpretty started as a poem T-Boz was writing, and Dallas helped transform it into an uplifting and female empowerment record of how women may feel they are not beautiful because of societal standards and men wanting them to wear makeup, weave, get plastic surgeries, etc. The song encourages women to look inside and hopefully they’ll gather the confidence to feel beautiful without changing or altering their appearance.

The pop/alternative rock record with elements of R&B gave the group another number one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, and was certified Gold by the RIAA!

My Life


Written by Jermaine Dupri, Tamara Savage, Lisa Lopes & Marshall Martin.

My Life touches on the ladies discussing how they have control over their lives and nothing or no one can change that. When you’re in the public eye, you’re perceived as different because you’re an entertainer and they are normal people as well.

Shout


Written by Dallas Austin, Lisa Lopes, Marshall Martin & Tionne Watkins.

Shout is about released all of the built up anger you may have inside!

Come On Down


Written by Diane Warren

Another record where Chilli sings lead, the mid tempo song was written by the legendary Diane Warren. It’s a very sexy record where they say whatever their man needs, he’ll receive it through love in many ways.

Dear Lie


Written by Kenneth Edmonds and Tionne Watkins

Dear Lie is a criminally underrated TLC record. Coming from another poem T-Boz wrote with Babyface, Dear Lie discusses how lies can make things worse and worse. She made lies appear as a person, and it made the most sense. It was a top ten hit on the UK R&B charts!

Communicate (Interlude)


Written by Dallas Austin

[T-Boz]
Communication is the key to life
Communication is the key to love
Communication is the key to us
(Change Channel sound)

[Left Eye]
There’s over a thousand ways
To communicate in our world today
And it’s a shame
That we don’t connect
(Change Channel Sound)

[Chilli]
So if you also feel the need
For us to come together
Will you communicate with me?

[Vic-E]
Message sent

Lovesick


Written by Dallas Austin & Rozonda Thomas

Lovesick is the story of my life 🥴. It speaks about the pain of seeing your ex with someone new and y’all JUST broke up. Just sick.

Automatic


Written by Dallas Austin

Automatic should’ve been a single! It’s definitely one of my highlights on the album. It touches on a disrespectful lover and getting him back. That’s how karma works.

Don’t Pull Out on Me Yet


Written by Dallas Austin

The last track on the album, is a sexy song for the bedroom. The song is basically telling the guy that how good she feels and how she wants him to love on her after a long day.

FanMail is a wonderful album that’ll stand the test of time always. The album is very special because it is the last album released during Lisa’s life on earth. It saddens me because I often wonder how TLC as a trio would thrive in the years after the 90s. Nevertheless, the beautiful ladies will always be the best to do it. No questions asked. Continue to rest peacefully Lisa. 🙏🏾💕😇 -MJ

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Hi! My name is Markiz (pronounced MARR-keez,) Johnson. Welcome to my blog! I've been told for YEARS that I should have one lol, so it's been in the making for a while. I'm excited for you to read my thoughts and opinions about the Entertainment industry, current events, and everyday life. I am a Senior at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha WI, & I am studying Communication & Sociology. There's a little info about me. Stay tuned for my podcast "Tea With Kiz," on iTunes & soundcloud! ❤️

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