‘We Got a Cease and Desist’: Coko Clemons Reveals SWV’s Initial Group Name Was TLC and Details That Shifted the Change

Cheryl “Coko” Clemons of SWV revealed during a Thursday, July 15, interview with Carlos King that the girl group’s initial name was slated to be TLC, but they were forced to change it because of a cease and desist letter due to the name already being used. During the interview, Clemons never shared who sent the cease and desist letter.

Both SWV and TLC were formed around the same time. SWV was founded in 1990 in New York City after group members including Clemons, Tamara “Taj” Johnson (Taj), and Leanne “Lelee” Lyons sent out their five-song demo to numerous labels before catching the eye of music producer Teddy Riley. 

Coko Clemons (bottom half) of girl group SWV discusses with BET’s “The Encore” producer Carlos King (top half) how the band initially was supposed to be called TLC, but was forced to change the name because they were served a ceased and desist letter. Photo:@thecarlosking_/Instagram

TLC was formed in Atlanta, Georgia, although there were conflicting reports of the exact timeline of when the trio, which included Tionne “T-Boz” WatkinsLisa “Left-Eye” Lopes and Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, came together. The women initially got their start in the music industry, which is set to be around 1990 to 1991 after T-Boz and Left-Eye left another group with previous member Crystal Jones to ultimately add Chilli. They later encountered local music producer Dallas Austin, and singer-songwriter Pebbles, who became their manager. 

In the initial interview, Clemons told Bet’s “The Encore” executive producer about the girl group’s past “beef” when entering the entertainment industry. She said at the 28:15 mark of the interview, “Yea, we all had beef with somebody.”

When King asked Clemons to elaborate on what she meant, the 51-year-old disclosed, while laughing, “You know, when SWV first came out, our name was TLC. Honey, we got a cease and desist real fast. So, we had to change our name… We had to change our names so fast, so, you know, we weren’t too happy about that. That’s how we went from TLC to SWV.”

As Clemons went on to discuss SWV’s interactions with other girl groups around their era, she shared although they never got into physical fights because they “were taller than everybody else,” the mother of three did say she and her group members were “ghetto.” 

Further into the interview, Clemons also brought up why so many girl groups didn’t last very long during their time. She stated it was because record labels pitted members within the same group against each other. She revealed, “I feel like the record labels  — they weren’t trying to pit us against other groups, but they were trying to pit the other group members against each other. That’s what they would do. So you see a lot of groups break up.”

She added, “Instead of trying to talk to us and keeping us together they were busy tearing us apart. So yea, I had an issue with that. Being in a group, you have to learn how to be united on your own because there are a lot of outsiders that will come in and whisper in your ear. When you are caught up in the hype honey, the hype will get you.” 

Despite SWV’s success in the 1990s, selling more than 25 million records worldwide, the group ultimately disbanded in 1998 to pursue solo careers. Following the breakup, the trio later reunited in 2005 and most recently made headlines in May for participating in a Verzuz battle against Xscape.

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