With songs like “Waterfalls” and “No Scrubs,” American girl group TLC is one of the most beloved ’90s acts of all time. But, despite the group’s many hit singles, TLC was never afraid to take on some heavy topics in their music. In fact, the rap verse from TLC member Lisa Left Eye Lopes in the song “Waterfalls” is probably the most powerful part of the entire track. It lays out TLC’s message in the most honest way possible, with a tough love approach that tackled Black American struggle and poverty with a sense of realism.
Whether you’re familiar with TLC or not, this song is one of the most iconic from their 1994 album CrazySexyCool. The lush, dreamy pop tune is a fun and catchy jam that’s perfect for any day. But, what few listeners know is that the song has a surprisingly deep meaning behind it. The lyrical content talks about the drug trade, gang violence and AIDS. It also addresses the problems with young people living dangerous lifestyles. The song is the first ever number one on the charts to mention AIDS in one of its lyrics.
The song was a massive hit and it topped the charts for over a month. Its socially conscious lyrics and impactful music video were groundbreaking for its time as it discussed issues that were rarely talked about in mainstream media at the time. In the video, the group sings in front of a waterfall while scenes of drug dealing and a man dying from AIDS are intercut. It’s a moving and empowering song that will remain relevant for years to come.