TLC singer T-Boz recently said Jermaine Dupri claiming that he was the mastermind behind her famously deep singing voice is “very inaccurate,” and for the sake of her legacy she wants to clear things up.
Dupri made the claim when he was a guest on T.I.’s “ExpediTIously” podcast in April, which T-Boz addressed when she stopped by the show with group member Chilli in an interview posted on YouTube on Aug. 27.
T-Boz, who addressed Dupri’s claim at the 3:00 mark, said it was important for her to speak out because she accomplished a lot, worked hard, and doesn’t want any of that taken away.
“The reason why it’s important for me to say something, as a woman and a Black woman actually who’s in this industry, for both of us to not sleep our way up, suck our way up, and for me to do it off my talent, when you have certain accolades and things that you really worked hard for, you can’t let people take that from you,” she said.
During Dupri’s interview with T.I., he talked about T-Boz singing on Kris Kross’ demos, the group he worked with in the early ’90s. The So So Def owner said he would first sing on the demos to show T-Boz how to approach a song, which she would then mimic.
“The way I was singing the demo, I was like, ‘I want you to sing it like this,’” he said. “She was like, ‘That’s low. Don’t nobody want to hear me sing like that.’ Nah, you gotta be cool. Sing down here where I’m at. You gotta sing where I’m at.’ So Tionne started mimicking my demo. That’s how she got that sound, the T-Boz sound that people know of today.”
T-Boz went on to explain that she was singing in her lower register since she was 17 years old, before ever meeting Dupri. She used the singing style during an audition that Dupri attended with Organized Noize member Rico Wade.
It was there that she sang Guy’s “Wanna Get With U,” and Jody Watley’s “Still a Thrill,” and Dupri heard her deep voice.
“It’s a big misconception because it wasn’t like he looked at me and said, ‘This blond girl, I’m a make her sound deep,” T-Boz told T.I. “The reason he knew I could sing deep is because the night in the audition … the night that I sang in the audition, I was singing deep.”
T-Boz said instead of Dupri being the architect of her singing style, he encouraged it, which she appreciates but it’s far different from what he claimed.
The TLC member admitted that using a low register scared her at the time because she associated it with people believing she was gay. But she changed her mind after speaking with her mother, who told her to follow Dupri’s advice.
“I was afraid to just do that as my thing. … So you get the facts there. I was singing deep in my audition before I met him,” T-Boz explained. “He forgot that he heard me singing that way. That’s what made him put me on Kris Kross’ demos. … What he did was, he made me feel comfortable. … Not that I’m homophobic, but I didn’t want to have a fight that wasn’t’ mine. … We’re talking the young me, who didn’t know any better.”
T-Boz then said that Dupri will always be her “brother” and dislikes that she had to explain herself but felt it was necessary.
“But the thing is, that’s why I told you in the beginning, as a woman, you can’t take that from me,” she stated. “That kind of s–t in this industry matters.”
Despite their working relationship, Dupri didn’t sign T-Boz or TLC even though he could have, being the founder of So So Def Recordings, something he expressed regret about.
The group was signed to Atlanta-based LaFace Records and released their debut “Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip” in 1992, which spent 73 weeks on the Billboard charts, peaking at No. 14.
Tragically, group member Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes was killed in a car crash in La Ceiba, Honduras, in 2002.