After their 1992 debut, Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip, some wondered if TLC might be a one-hit-album wonder. But Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas had other ideas, taking it to another level with CrazySexyCool, their sophomore set released on Nov. 15, 1994.
Twenty-five years later, the Grammy-winning collection stands as the definitive TLC album. In honor of the LP’s silver anniversary, we rank all the tracks — minus the interludes — on this ’90s R&B classic.
11. “Take Our Time”
TLC takes it between the sheets on this Isley Brothers-esque slow jam, with Chilli doing her best Mr. Biggs (aka Ronald Isley). The song was co-produced by Chilli’s ex Dallas Austin — who did better work elsewhere on CrazySexyCool (see “Creep”) — and co-written by Debra Killings, a background vocalist for the trio.
10. “Let’s Do It Again”
Like “Take Our Time,” this track emphasizes the “sexy” in CrazySexyCool. One of three songs featuring writing and production by Babyface — the others being “Diggin’ on You” and “Red Light Special” — it’s the weakest link of his efforts here. Still, that says a lot about the strength of the rest of this album.
From “Waterfalls” to that “If I Was Your Girlfriend” cover, you can hear shades of Purple à la Prince all over CrazySexyCool. And with its guitar-pop bounce and tossed-off cool, “Switch” sounds like it could have been one of his ’80s B-sides or a song he might have given to The Family.
8. “Case of the Fake People”
There’s a nod to the 1972 O’Jays hit “Back Stabbers” on this funky, sassy strutter led by T-Boz. But while it’s not in the league of that Philly soul classic, this track — written and produced by Austin — demonstrates the take-no-mess attitude that made TLC a symbol of girl-group empowerment.
7. “If I Was Your Girlfriend”
Putting their hip-hop-soul spin on Prince’s Sign o’ the Times single, TLC displays some of the groovy weirdness of fellow Atlanta outfit OutKast. Chilli flirts with the androgyny Prince embraced when he sang as his Camille alter ego, but there’s some Vanity 6 in the mix, too.
6. “Kick Your Game”
TLC throws down a challenge to all the dudes in the club to step up their game if they want to kick it with them. Jermaine Dupri, who co-wrote and co-produced the track, also serves as hype man amidst the eerie eroticism, but it’s the ladies who are in charge.
5. “Sumthin’ Wicked This Way Comes”
Kicking off with a verse from André 3000, this track closes the album with some soulful social commentary. The chorus displays a world weariness: “Sometimes I feel like/There’s nothing to live for/So I’m longing for the days of yesterday.” Sadly, it’s a mood that suits the troubled times we live in 25 years later.
4. “Diggin’ on You”
The fourth and final single from CrazySexyCool was also the trio’s fourth consecutive top 5 hit, peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. Adding some pure soul-pop sweetness amidst all the hip-hop swagger on the album, this wraps you up in the other kind of TLC.
3. “Red Light Special”
No doubt, Babyface was at the top of his game when he wrote and produced both “Diggin’ on You” and “Red Light Special” for TLC. And the two songs couldn’t be more different. “Red Light Special,” the LP’s second single, was all strip-club seduction. This was TLC at their sexiest, turning from tomboys to temptresses. Audiences responded, pushing this one to No. 2 on the Hot 100.
Inspired by some real-life drama that went down between T-Boz and one of her exes, the album’s first single about the cheating game crept all the way to No. 1 on the Hot 100. It’s the perfect TLC song: First, there’s the deep groove that sets the track on the prowl. Then there’s the trumpet sample that gives it a late-night sultriness. It all adds up to a fly flip of the script, revealing that ladies can keep it on the down-low, too.
CrazySexyCool’s third single became TLC’s signature song, spending seven weeks at the top of the Hot 100 and earning them a Grammy nomination for record of the year. As a message song from a group that hadn’t shown this kind of depth before, it changed the game for them. It showed that in addition to being crazy, sexy and cool, they were also woke. Bonus points for the video that also made this a watershed moment for TLC.