Last week was the premiere of VH1’s biopic film on TLC Crazy, Sexy, Cool. First off I have to admit when I heard the cast be announced for the film I had a lot of trepidation but after seeing a few shots for the set I knew that this film had some promise. The film happen to be pretty damn good with Keke Palmer (Chilli), Drew Sidora (T-Boz), and Lil Mama (Left-Eye) all putting in great work. The shining star has to be Lil Mama’s portrayal of Left Eye. One of the overwhelming thoughts I had is why isn’t Left Eye mentioned much in the lexicon of hip hop as being a good MC? When people talk about good female MCs they will mention Lil Kim, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Lauryn Hill, Da Brat, and recently one Nicki Minaj. Have people really forgotten about the talent that Left Eye possessed?
I am not going to front I have even neglected to recognize Let Eye’s contribution to hip hop. But I think many of us need to reconsider this idea of Left Eye’s prowess as an MC. I know many people will say she doesn’t really have the catalog as other MCs have had and I totally agree with that. I remember when I first her “Aint Too Proud to Beg” at the Saints Skating Rink (My STL folks know about this) and I remember I was like what the hell is these woman talking about they not too proud to beg for?…I thought it was food It wasn’t till weeks later that a cousin of mine would explain to me that they were talking about sex. After the release of their first I didn’t even care about what condoms and all of those things they were socially bringing to the light but I knew I was like this chick Left Eye was rhyming heavy. I mean this chick from Philly could really RHYME (I still believe that one of the most slept on rhymes from Left Eye is her rhyme with Kid N Play in House Party 3)
On the real Left Eye in many ways brought hip hop to the mainstream in a covert way without “selling out”. Left Eye and TLC were hip hop through and through even though their music was more R&B/Pop. From the baggy clothes and loud colors and even Left Eye’s whole persona and name coming from wearing a condom over her Left Eye was totally hip hop. Think about it that is what hip hop was built on self-expression regardless of what mainstream society felt was the box to be in…and Left Eye was definitely out of the box.
One has to admit Left Eye’s lyric ability was definitely over shaded by the direction that TLC was in BUT just take a minute to listen to some of the rhymes and cadences. She was able to dive very personally into her own struggles and thoughts and slide that into the very pop feel of TLC. It was almost like Left Eye was sneaking in true lyricism and consciousness undercover for people. Really peep out the lyrics on “Waterfalls” it’s not a pop rhyme by any mean by Left Eye. She is really spitting about life’s troubles and her feelings on the direction our lives and even her own life.
I seen a rainbow yesterday, but too many storms have come and gone
Leaving a trace of not one God-given ray
Is it because my life is ten shades of gray
I pray, all ten fade away
Seldom praise Him for the sunny days
What I think was Left Eye’s biggest hampers as an MC was the groups direction musically which was pushing much away from her rhyming as much on TLC tracks. This plus Left Eye’s personal issues were probably the main problem with Left Eye wanting to do her own solo projects. No diss to Chilli or T-Boz but honestly a Left Eye solo career would be something that many people would have wanted to embrace more because she had so much to say but didn’t have much time opportunity to really say it. Yeah we all know she was crazy as hell but what genius is NOT? Left Eye was able to creativity go in a direction many MCs cannot and will not go in. While many female MCs have taken the Lil Kim and Foxy brown blueprint, Left Eye was able to move in her own direction. She was able to exude herself and still pull off the sexiness through her natural movements, character, and rhyme style.
Somewhere along the line of the many debates about some of the best people to pick up the microphone Left Eye has been left out of many of the conversations especially in terms of the female MC and her influence. Next time you have a discussion about some of the most slept on hip hop artists, best female MCs, or most creative MCs don’t forget to bring up Left Eye because she was more than just a member of a singing group she was Hip Hop.
Whether tradition or religion, why you question my decision?
Why you spend up all your time tryin’ to get into my mind?…
My only chance of being free is to fly within me
And it’s illegal to kill a f***in’ eagle
A bird is never more important than my people
I guess we didn’t need him so I took away his freedom
Freedom- Panther Soundtrack
Make sure you check out this week’s episode of the “Straight Outta Lo Cash” Radio Show. This week’s show “Can Jamie Foxx Really Play MLK?” You can also subscribe to the show on I-Tunes or listen on your Android, I-Phone, or I-Pad with Stitcher Radio.