As the world approached the brink of the new millennium in the year 1999, no one knew what to expect. This fear of the unknown crept into the music of our favorite late-'90s pop stars, from the baby robot voice embedded throughout Britney Spears’ ...Baby One More Time debut, Backstreet Boys shooting their second album Millennium right into outer space and Blaque booming like an earth-shattering 808 on its self-titled debut. But it was TLC who fully embraced the impending chaos that many thought the Y2K Scare was going to bring, with their third album FanMail.
The album, which turns 20 on Saturday (Feb. 23), aestheticized a digital world that was born after the turbulent events that the girl group went through during the five-year hiatus they took after releasing 1994’s Diamond-certified CrazySexyCool, still the best-selling U.S. album by a girl group of all time. Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas became a first-time mother with the group’s longtime producer Dallas Austin, Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins spent many nights in the hospital to combat her sickle-cell anemia, and the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes made headlines for burning down the house of ex-boyfriend Andre Rison, while also getting into conflict with other members about TLC's musical direction.
Throughout all of this, the group revealed they were bankrupt, and trying to claw themselves out of a messy contract with Pebbitone, the management company founded by L.A. Reid's former wife Pebbles. When they finally got back into the studio, they decided to dedicate the entire album to their supportive fans -- but the recording process wasn’t easy.