Lisa Lopes' 'Mad Rhythms' Magazine Photo Shoot (By Ernest Washington) {January 1999}

Lisa's Got A Secret:
Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes Talks
About TLC, MTV, & Body Piercing
Mad Rhythms, January 1999

When she's not in the studio recording with TLC, she's the Chief Executive Officer of Left Eye Productions, an entertainment artist management company. When she's not running Left Eye Productions, she's hosting MTV's "The Cut", bringing her lovable personality to the MTV audience. In her spare time, she makes herself available at 11:00 at night to conduct interviews with people like me. When you talk to Left Eye, you're taken off guard by her down home personality. She's one of those people that you feel like you've known for years. She doesn't mind talking to you about her experiences, good and bad. I had to talk to Lisa twice in order to get the entire story straight. You know the rumors about the TLC break-up, her newfound television stardom on MTV, her solo project and those damn body piercings. Talking to Lisa, I had to get it all.
MR: How would you describe your personality?
LLL: Ambitious, not quick tempered. On one extreme or the next, I'm never in between. It takes a lot to get me amped.
MR: What are some of your proudest accomplishments to date?
LLL: Knowing where I came from and where I am now. I had about $700 in my account, I drove to Atlanta. I continue to move forward, I try not to look back. I'm not afraid of change and it takes me much further.
MR: How has being "Left Eye" impacted your dating and affected the men that you've dated?
LLL: It doesn't impact the relationship. I do the pursuing. I give them that look and then we hook up. I get distracted very easily. It's not just a lover thing, but what kind of person is inside that body. I'll talk to people just because I was interested in them as the person. I'm so open and down to earth, like I'm their next door neighbor. They'll be like, "Left Eye did not just walk up to me and show some interest." After we talk for a while, he forgets that I'm Left Eye,I'm just Lisa. I maintain good relationships with my old boyfriends. If there's a friendship there, I like to keep it.
The Solo Album
MR: When is the public going to hear the SOLO - Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes project?
LLL: I have to play it by ear. As soon as the TLC project is finished, that's when I start recording mine.
MR: Will your album be a rap album?
LLL: I do not consider myself a rapper, I rather consider myself a singer. I was modeling, dancing. I play the piano. I was sewing outfits for people. I was always involved in something. Rapping was an outlet. It was a way to step out to do other things. I write, I do screenplay writing. If you were to come to my house, you'd be amazed.I do so many things in a day, there's not a lot of time for perfection. I'm running all over the place. If I had a lot of money, I would invest in a multimedia company, and get somebody else to work on all of these ideas.
MR: You chose to sign with LaFace Records as a solo artist as well. After all you went through, did you feel comfortable?
LLL: It was easier to do it that way. I feel comfortable. I just didn't say, "I want to go solo." I'm comfortable with the negotiations that took place.
Body Painting & Body Piercing
MR: The tattoos - Girl, they look like they hurt! There's a saying, "No Pain, No Stain!"
LLL: Yeah, I can take pain pretty good. I can block it out. I can feel it, but I know that it will be over. Fear is just not knowing. Get prepared to deal with it. Pain, I have accepted it.
MR: I noticed that you have one nipple pierced and one eyebrow, how did you do it?
LLL: I don't enjoy pain, but I can deal with it. I wanted to get my nipple pierced for quite some time. I met a man, who threw it out there, and so the nipple ring is for him.
MR: What attracted you to getting body parts pierced?
LLL: It's body jewelry. It's just jewelry, it looks nice on my nipple. I've seen women with their nipples pierced before, and it looks nice. I don't wear earring and necklaces, my jewelry is a part of me.
MR: How did you hook up with MTV's "The Cut?"
LLL: It happened at the 11th hour. They weren't happy with the hosting situation. Edna (Simms Bruce) was asking around for who they thought would be good. My name was suggested by Jamie (Foster Brown of Sister2 Sister magazine). My name had come up previously, I flew out for 2 days, auditioned and that was it.
MR: Is it difficult being a host for MTV?
LLL: No, it's not tough. I'm rolling with it. I am mentally prepared.
MR: How has the public been reacting to you being on "The Cut?"
LLL: It's been great. Every time I see somebody, they mention "The Cut." This means they're watching.
MR: How do you come up with those outfits for "The Cut?" Are you trying to shock people?
LLL: No, I'm not trying to shock anyone. I want to be creative. I think you should flaunt what you have. I am an entertainer. "The Cut" appeals to a young audience. I want them to get a lot of laughs, and look at me.
MR: Have the other members of TLC been supportive of your role with "The Cut?"
LLL: I would like to say yes. I can't say no. I'm sure they have their qualms because TLC was always the type of group to put aside solo parts for the betterment of the group.
MR: How did you get Left Eye Productions started?
LLL: I invested my own money into the production company. After a couple of years, my accountant advised me not to keep putting money in. So, then, I went to Sony for the deal.
MR: You just make deals happen, huh?
LLL: I don't have to do all of the legwork, the lawyers do the talking. I just set up the vision and deal with the larger points of the deal.
MR: How do you select artists for Left Eye Productions?
LLL: My brother is A&R, he's a big help. He's instrumental in selecting people. I would go to various clubs, I was open to taking numbers down, I'd come across a lot of artists. My brother is working with me, bringing me artists.
MR: Did you imagine having a production company and doing these kinds of things on the solo tip?
LLL: Actually, I did imagine this, before TLC. When I met artists before, I would take them to Pebbles or LA because I wasn't ready to do it myself. I didn't have the experience. After a few years in the business, bankruptcy, and a lot of other stuff, it was different.
MR: How have your experiences in the business shaped your relationships with your artists?
LLL: I'm more vocal in talking to my artists. We have good relationships, more than production ties, we talk about life. I might be cooking dinner, they might want to listen to music, there's a strong level of trust. Even if they don't ask questions, I'll ask for them. I don't believe in raising dumb artists.
MR: Despite rumors, you still are a member of the group TLC, right?
LLL: Yeah.
MR: When is the new TLC project coming out?
LLL: Early or mid 1999.
MR: Are you glad that you went through some of the things that you did in the industry?
LLL: I'm not glad, but I don't regret going through it. There's always something positive that can come from it. If it's gonna get more knowledge, then I can learn a lot.
MR: It seems that you just speak your mind whenever there's a problem. How did you get that way?
LLL: It's easy for me to speak my mind. That's just natural. Whenever there's an issue, I speak. No one should be limited from speaking their mind. People tend not to be open to speak. The producers might get mad, or the record company might get mad, even when people don't agree. I know what I have to look forward to, there are things that are expected.
MR: How has your upbringing affected the way that you handle challenges in your career?
LLL: I've been through a lot of experiences. The way that I chose to deal with things has to do with my parents and how I was raised. But, in any situation, I am very adaptable. I see things for what they are. I know that there are people who are going through worse.
MR: Has being "Left Eye" of the multi-platinum group TLC changed you?
LLL: It has added a lot to me. Thinking back, I haven't changed much. I can handle situations better. My priorities are more in order. Because of my experience I have much more knowledge. Every once in a while, I'll wake up in a dream state like, "Oh, Man. It's me. I'm in a group that sold 17 million records." I think back to back in the day.
MR: Will you outgrow being in TLC?
LLL: Most definitely. I believe we have great chemistry. No one could be replaced to make us any better. But a lot of that stems from me. I come up with ideas and concepts. It's not just the artist, it's the concept, the package. A lot of artists today sing songs that other people wrote, and dance steps that other people choreograph.
MR: Have you seen the TLC influence in a lot of groups nowadays?
LLL: A lot of groups since "CrazySexyCool" have copied the vibe that we do musically. People try to copy Tionne's voice, that niche deep voice. Aaliyah wears clothes that are very TLCish. Total sounds very TLC. Cleopatra and Immature have some TLC vibe in them.
MR: How does the copying that other artists do of your style make you feel?
LLL: It makes us feel good. We're trend setters. The day we stop setting trends, that'll be the day we fall off.
MR: Is it difficult coming up with new things?
LLL: No, I consider myself a visionary, a conceptualist. The bright colors, the condoms, all of the little things added something. Things that the average person can see. CrazySexyCool, that's how I envisioned it. We (TLC) never took some of the concepts to what it should have been. I envisioned CrazySexyCool across baby tees. No one could see it within my camp. We missed out on merchandising. We didn't even patent the "CrazySexyCool". We always had bad management.
MR: Why is TLC always around bad management?
LLL: I'm in a group with 2 other people. I'm only 1/3. If the group won't do it, I have to do it for myself. They don't care about having a merchandising deal. I had to venture off and get my management, get other lawyers, outside of the TLC lawyers. I can outgrow this situation. It doesn't make sense to sell 17 million records and not benefit from it. Everything that I could have done to make things better, my bills, my family, me on the stage. I have to look out for me. If I feel like I don't know enough, I find somebody who does know. Once you go through 5 or 6 managers, you should know.
MR: How is your relationship with Tionne and Chilli?
LLL: We're 3 different people. We have grown apart, we think differently, we have different visions. Tionne thinks we shouldn't be seen before the album drops. But, you might see me doing stuff and you won't see them. But we love each other like sisters.
MR: Did you ever feel pressure to work with Dallas Austin because that's Chilli's boyfriend?
LLL: There was no pressure to work with Dallas because that's her boyfriend. Business is business. The fact of him being Chilli's boyfriend never comes up. Chilli doesn't come off like that.
MR: What can we expect on the new TLC album?
LLL: New and refreshing material, compared to what's on the radio right now. Xscape wrote a song for us. We're working with Jermaine Dupri and Babyface. Chilli is doing the leads, a lot more singing. Tionne is staying in her range. I have FULL rap songs on this album.
MR: Do you think this will be your last TLC album?
LLL: No. No matter how much drama we go through, we love each other like sisters. As a group, we went through growing pains. As individuals, we went through growing pains.