The Honeycomb Edition

Fly. Funky. Fresh.

May 3, 2017
ashleabrandon

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Freshness: TLC’s “Way Back” + Reflections on What TLC Did for Black Girls Who Have Fun

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TLC released the first single from their long-awaited fifth studio album and it bops!

The song is true to the ATL sound they introduced to us in 1992, all while nodding to the sounds of today. The tune is just breezy. You can dance to it but just the same you will enjoy going down memory lane with your girls as it plays in the background.

As I listened to the song, I kept thinking about what TLC meant to me growing up. As thorough 90s baby, I remember the highs and lows they had of being the biggest girl group in the world to Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes’ tragic passing. From “Ain’t Too Proud 2 Beg” to “Way Back,” what stands out to me most is how these ladies always seemed to have fun and were never embarrassed to show that side of themselves.

Now T-Boz, Left Eye, and Chilli had plenty of grown women talks. Whether is having a sidepiece (“Creep”), disloyalty (“What About Your Friends”), or putting a trifling man in his place (“No Scrubs”), their quick and clever delivery dismantled the bitter black woman narrative. Their frank talks showed that being carefree and light-hearted should priorities and not to feel guilty for dismissing people who rob us of those feelings.

Furthermore, their personalities shined. Sure, they had their rough patches as group members, but their synergy was unparalleled. We saw three women with three starkly different stories who seemed to thrive off what made them different rather than be intimidated by it. Their support of each other is what made them so confident to challenge gender norms like wearing sagging jeans or take beauty risks like rocking blue lipstick years before is became the norm.

 

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Currently I am in the age range I so vividly remember TLC being in. Being a young black woman can quickly devolve into deadlines, stress, and just overall uncertainty. I look back at TLC in their 20s, even as they faced bankruptcy, health issues, and their share of mistakes, they still were unapologetic about having fun. They are proof of how healing a goofy moment with your girls can be. Their oft-mentioned press conference after the 1996 Grammys is a prime example.

Now in their forties with teenage children and having suffered the devastating loss of losing a friend, TLC is still having fun. That should lift us. Maybe this brand of fun they have given us for 25 years is called “carefree black girls” or “black girl joy” in 2017. I’m not sure and it really doesn’t matter—“fun” has no box!

Thank you ladies.

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