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Flashback Friday: “Unpretty” by TLC

I was in the fourth grade. TLC had just released “No Scrubs” and the song was engraved in my brain. I had Left-Eye’s rap down pat. So much to the point that I convinced the cafeteria ladies to let me recite the rap during lunch time. I went in. It was mostly a white school so I received a lot of, “Oh, ok” looks except for the one white girl who knew more about rap than I did, who was cheering me on. Even so, it was one of the only times I felt I could shine and come out my cancer-crabshell as a child. Needless to say, I was definitely a TLC fan and couldn’t wait to hear what they were coming out with next. You know, because my mom was not down with me actually owning their work, I was cut off at TRL and Hot 97.

The next single came out, and it was “Unpretty”. It was a new sound for TLC; nothing like “No Scrubs” or “Creep”. At this point, I figured since they were gaining so much Pop success that they decided to experiment with more sounds to retain their new listening audience. Their efforts definitely worked because all the ‘N Sync, BSB, Britney, and Christina fans were now obsessed with this song. I can admit that this song didn’t hit me like “No Scrubs” did, but even back then, I could understand the influence and power of “Unpretty”. Like “Waterfalls”, “Unpretty” had a message to tell the masses: We all deal with moments where we feel like shit and unworthy. The actual video followed body image issues and how to reclaim your body by appreciating it for what it is.

This song was pivotal for TLC. It really allowed them to reach out to more audiences and strongly connect with them while making an everlasting impression. To be quite honest, I probably didn’t like this song when I was younger because it reminded me of how much I was getting picked on, at that point, and made me sad. At the same time, I appreciated “Unpretty” and I admired the strength of these women to stand up for all those who deal with such issues. The issues talked about and portrayed in the video are still issues people deal with today. This sentiment goes for a lot of TLC’s music, which is why their music can stand the test of time, and quite frankly, deserves to be remembered.

For more TLC, just click here.

Written by Manny King John


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