It's been 21 years (April 25, 2002) since Left Eye tragically lost her life in a car accident in Honduras, aged 30. On her casket were lyrics from ‘Waterfalls’, TLC’s biggest single:
"Dreams are hopeless aspirations, in hopes of coming true, believe in yourself, the rest is up to me and you."
Left Eye wrote that song: A brilliant r&b song with a catchiness radio DJs around the world over couldn’t ignore, despite its taboo-tackling lyrics, confronting HIV, the illegal drug trade and other issues mainstream America has a habit of stubbornly ignoring.
1992 the year where urban music was expanding tremendous when Tionne Watkins became "T-Boz," Lisa Lopes became "Left-Eye," and Rozonda Thomas became "Chilli"and released their debut album, 'Ooooooohhh… On the TLC Tip'.
The album was a commercial success with three singles making it into the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 and was certified as quadruple-platinum in the United States .
With their mix of R&B, hip hop, soul and funk and their unique clothing style, TLC hit the nail on the head. Their second album 'CrazySexyCool' won the 1994 Grammy for best R&B album and sold over 11 million copies.
But TLC also made headlines besides music. Lopes was arrested shortly before the release of 'CrazySexyCool'. She was under the heavy influence of alcohol, the rapper had set fire on the property of her partner, football professional Andre Rison. Lopes agreed to drug withdrawal in order to avoid imprisonment.
In 1995, the band filed for bankruptcy and Watkins (T-Boz) was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia. In summer 1997, the trio returned to the studio, with recording producer Dallas Austin, however, things where not working out as supposed to. TLC complained about Austin's salary demands, leading to a public slaughter battle between the band and the producer.
The album 'Fanmail' was finally released almost two years after the beginning of the recordings and TLC won again the Grammy for the best R&B album.
At this time, separation rumors started growing around the band. Lopes had already announced a solo album in 1998, Watkins tried as an actress and the band members seemed hopelessly divided. However, the trio regrouped and went into the studio in late 2001 to work on new material, but Lopes did not live to see it.
After numerous talks with Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight, Lopes severed her solo deal with Arista (despite remaining signed to the label as a member of TLC) and signed with Knight's Death Row Records in January 2002, intending to record a second solo album under the pseudonym "N.I.N.A." (New Identity Not Applicable)
In Spring 2002, Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes, the hip-hop innovator of TLC, began production on a documentary intended to chronicle her time spent in Honduras. Lopes takes fans on an intimate journey and building a youth camp for children.
Accompanied by her team, sister Reigndrop Lopes, and Egypt, the R&B group she was mentoring at the time, they set out to the forest to film for 30 days. "That's the plan," Lopes says prophetically. "I say that’s the plan because things always change." Filming ended on day 27, after a tragic car accident that took Lopes’ life. The car overturned, and while her seven passengers remained unhurt, Lopes died a short time later from severe head injuries.
In posthumously sutured tapes, the Lauren Lazin directed film, The Last Days Of Left Eye, ominously follows the final days of the effervescent star and her struggles with art, mortality and unrelenting dark premonitions.
Watch The Last Days Of Left Eye down below.