Chilli Reflects on 15th Anniversary of TLC’s “No Scrubs”
After TLC‘s financial, management, and label drama, the group made a much talked about and longingly overdue comeback on January 23, 1999 with “No Scrubs,” the lead single from their then upcoming third studio album Fanmail, which was released exactly one month later on February 23, 1999.
The song reached its first of four weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart exactly 15 years ago today: April 10, 1999.
To reflect on the song and its cultural impact, Billboard sat down with Rozonda ‘Chilli’ Thomas, who spoke on knowing the song would be a big hit, what the song means to her, how she got to sing lead and much more.
On knowing the song would be a hit:
“I totally loved it. knew immediately. I went, ‘This is a smash.’ And I was like, ‘I gotta get it.’ There were probably three more cuss words in there, and I was like, ‘Guys, I’m gonna take these out and only leave two in there.’ [Laughs] That’s the only thing I changed. Other than that, I thought it was a great song.”
On the song’s meaning:
“I think it’s probably a more in-your-face kind of thing. definitely don’t think it’s the first song where females talk about a dude, but we really went in.”
On singing lead because the track called for a certain sweetness:
“She kind of has her raspy sound. come and put the pretty on the song, so to speak. Her voice is edgy. Mine is very angelic. We can tell whose voice will be better for what. … This particular one, it wasn’t even about who’s gonna do it. We knew automatically: Yeah, I got this one. I kind of bring that pop feel. Everyone has their role.”
On Sporty Thieves’ No Pigeon Remix:
“I thought it was hilarious. It just sounded like some little boys crying. I was like, ‘Oh, they’re such little babies. They can’t take it.”