“There is a track called ‘A New Star Is Born,’ ” Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes said last summer, describing a song on her Supernova solo LP. “That track is dedicated to all those that have loved ones that have passed away.
“It’s saying that there is no such thing as death. We can call it transforming for a lack of better words, but as scientists would say, ‘Every atom that was once a star is now in you.’ It’s in your body. So in the song I pretty much go along with that idea…. I don’t care what happens or what people think about death, it doesn’t matter. We all share the same space.”
No one would ever expect the death of one of the brightest stars in entertainment would come about just months after she made those comments. Less than 24 hours after hearing of her tragic demise, the people who knew her best, Lopes’ musical family, gave their thoughts on her passing.
“I heard about it from Chilli, who heard it from our manager,” Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins told MTV News Friday (April 26). “We were working on the [new TLC] album, but I got sick. We took a break until I got better. We all did our own thing until it was time to go back in the studio. It was going great. It kind of reminded you of Crazysexycool.
“I was in the hospital for two months, and she came to see me about three weeks ago,” T-Boz added. “She was doing good.”
“She is our sister,” the third member of TLC, Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas, said. “We’ve been together for over 10 years.”
“Everybody is up and down,” said Dallas Austin, TLC’s longtime producer, on his way to meet with Chilli and T-Boz. “It’s pretty hysterical at some points. We’re still trying to grab it.”
Austin said that when he first heard the news he thought it was just a misinterpretation of one of Left Eye’s storied antics.
“I was at Orlando Jones’ house [last night],” he remembered. “We was all ready to go out. I was joking because they was playing ‘Waterfalls’ downstairs. I was like, ‘I know this n–a ain’t playing ‘Waterfalls.’ He’s tripping.’ And at the same time, a two-way [page] went off saying Lisa got killed in a car wreck. [I was thinking,] ‘Are they playing, are they serious? Maybe that’s why the music is playing so loud downstairs.’ Then I called Rozonda, [and] she was like, ‘Yeah.’ The crazy part about it is that you’re hoping this is one of those times Lisa was pulling something.”
Coming to grips with the harsh reality was “like a ton of bricks fell on you,” Austin said. “All of us have been family for so long. All us have been through every up and down you can go through.”
Jermaine Dupri, who has been working with TLC since before they got a record deal, said he was in the studio when he heard. “Somebody paged me. I was hoping it was a rumor, because you heard stuff about Lisa before. Like, she was missing before, and I guess people were sending out pages saying Left Eye was missing – if you know her whereabouts, please tell. I don’t know what that was. I was praying to God that it was something like that again.
“I was thinking a whole bunch of stuff, and a whole lot of stuff was coming through my pager. I continued to work and was hoping to God that the next day it would blow over. Then it got to be a snowball effect.”
Even though Left Eye lived a short life, she fulfilled her dream. “She was determined to be something in life,” Dupri said. “She was a true rock star. She didn’t care about no press. She was the rock star out of the group. She was the one that would curse on TV. She had the tattoos. You could expect the unexpected. When you see Lisa, you could expect something from her. That’s the gift she carried.”
Another gift Left Eye gave was of course her music. In addition to the new TLC album, she was working on a solo album under the alias N.I.N.A. for Suge Knight’s Tha Row.
“I would like to express my condolences with love for her family and her fans,” Knight said in a statement Friday. “What I liked most about her was that she was a rebel. She wasn’t afraid to go against the grain. Even though [Tha Row] cut songs with her, the last thing on my mind is to release any material right away. I think that it is a sad thing to turn tragedy into treasure.”