It was the first time you heard a particular note, drum beat or electronically created sound that made your ears tingle, your heart skip a beat and resonated with your soul. This is “My Song” – a series where the music that makes the person is spotlighted. James Bullock writes about those innocent school days where he didn’t realize the pressures of being a man were already mounting.
I’ve been a fan of Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, rapper Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and singer Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas’ music since hearing the hip hop infused R & B group’s second single from their first record. By their second album’s release, things were not looking good for the trio. Financial problems between talent and management ended with TLC filing for bankruptcy and leaving thousands upon thousands of fans wondering if they’d ever hear a new song from the history-making ensemble. Rumors of the group’s demise eventually faded away with an announcement of their third album, “Fanmail”.
In the winter of 1999, the R & B trio released a record dedicated to the fans that helped keep them popular during such a catastrophic time. “Fanmail” would become a pivotal album in my life, as it was the first record I purchased with my own money on the album’s release day. Returning home after school, I excitedly popped in the CD and listened to it with a smile on my face. That smile would eventually disappear weeks later.
“Fanmail’s” first single was “No Scrubs”. The song became an anthem for women to do better when choosing a mate (mostly on a superficial level). Sadly for every boy who was surrounded by a group of girls who loved the song, that male was now a scrub (a man with practically nothing to his name and having no ambition to do better for himself). I, as an eighth grade kid, was now considered a scrub. Before you knew it, I, like many other males, abhorred the song.
It would take many years after being called a “scrub” by fourteen-year-old girls that I start enjoying the song (and “Fanmail” as a whole) again. Listening to “No Scrubs” now brings a smile to my face; reminding me of a time when every male wanted to avoid being a scrub.