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Lisa Lopes

Lisa Lopes
Background information
Also known as Left Eye,[1] N.I.N.A[2]
Born May 27, 1971(1971-05-27)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died April 25, 2002 (aged 30)
La Ceiba, Atlántida, Honduras
Genres R&B, rap, hip hop, pop
Occupations Rapper, singer, songwriter, actress
Years active 1991–2002
Labels Arista, LaFace, Tha Row/Death Row Records
Associated acts TLC, Missy Elliott, Chamillionaire, Blaque, Melanie C, Lil' Kim, Angie Martinez
Website LeftEye.com

Lisa Nicole Lopes (May 27, 1971 – April 25, 2002), better known by her stage name Left Eye, was an American rapper, singer, songwriter, and member of the R&B girl group TLC.

Lopes contributed her own self-written raps to many of TLC's past singles, including "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg", "What About Your Friends", "Hat 2 da Back", "Waterfalls" and "Girl Talk". She was also known for wearing a pair of glasses with a condom in place of the left eye lens in the beginning of her career, which was one of the ways she promoted safe sex. Lopes got the nickname "Left Eye" from a boyfriend who noticed that her left eye appeared slightly larger than her right. [3]

Contents

TLC

TLC began as a female trio called Second Nature. The group evolved into TLC — the letters of the band made up of the first initials of the three members — Tionne, Lisa and Crystal. Things didn't work out with Crystal Jones, and TLC's manager Perri "Pebbles" Reid brought in her backup dancer, Rozonda Thomas, as a third member of the group. To keep the "initial" theme of the band's name, Rozonda needed a name starting with C, so she took on the nickname Chilli, which was given immediately by Lopes. Bandmate Tionne Watkins became T-Boz, while Lopes was renamed Left Eye. Lopes celebrated her nickname by wearing an eye patch or a condom,[3] later evolving to a black stripe under her eye, and then to an eye ring on her left eyebrow.[4]

The group appeared on the scene in 1992 with the album Ooooooohhh... On the TLC Tip. With three singles, it sold 6 million copies worldwide and TLC became a household name. After a few years' break, TLC came back with CrazySexyCool selling over 15 million copies worldwide and cementing TLC as one of the biggest female groups of all time. TLC's third album FanMail was released in 1999 and sold over 10 million copies worldwide. The album's title was a tribute to TLC's loyal fans. The album's sleeve contained the names of hundreds of fans as a thank you to everyone who supported them.[5]

During the recording of FanMail, a public conflict began between the three members of the group. Lopes sent a message to Vibe magazine saying, "I've graduated from this era. I cannot stand 100 percent behind this TLC project and the music that is supposed to represent me."[6] In response to Lopes' comments, Watkins and Thomas stated to Entertainment Weekly that Lopes "doesn't respect the whole group" and "Left Eye is only concerned with Left Eye". In turn, Lopes sent a letter to Entertainment Weekly issuing a challenge to Watkins and Thomas to release solo albums and let the public decide who was the greatest member of TLC:

I challenge Tionne 'Player' Watkins (T-Boz) and Rozonda 'Hater' Thomas (Chilli) to an album entitled "The Challenge"... a 3-CD set that contains three solo albums. Each [album]... will be due to the record label by October 1, 2000...I also challenge Dallas 'The Manipulator' Austin to produce all of the material and do it at a fraction of his normal rate. As I think about it, I'm sure LaFace would not mind throwing in a $1.5 million dollar prize for the winner.[7]

T-Boz and Chilli declined to take up the "Challenge,"[8] though Lopes always maintained she thought it was a great idea. Things were heated between the girls for some time, with Thomas speaking out against Lopes, calling her antics "selfish," "evil," and "heartless."[9]

Solo career

After Fanmail, Lopes began to expand her solo career. She became a featured rapper on several singles, including former Spice Girl Melanie C's "Never Be the Same Again", which went to #1 in 35 countries, including the UK.[10] She was also featured on the first single from Donell Jones' second album, entitled "U Know What's Up", and she sang "Space Cowboy" with *NSYNC on their 2000 album No Strings Attached. Lopes also collaborated on "Gimme Some" by Toni Braxton from her 2000 release The Heat. In 2001 she appeared in two commercials for The Gap, one solo and the other with India.Arie, Liz Phair, and Sheryl Crow, where she was featured singing, instead of rapping, for the first time alone.

Lopes was also the host of the short-lived MTV series, The Cut, a precursor to American Idol in which a handful of would-be pop stars, rappers, and rock bands competed against each other and were judged. The show's winner, which ended up being a male-female rap duo, was promised a record deal and funding to produce a music video, which would then enter MTV's heavy rotation. A then-unknown Anastacia finished in third place, but so impressed Lopes and the show's three judges, that she scored a record deal as well. About nine months before her death, Lopes appeared on the singers' edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire along with Joey McIntyre, Tyrese, Nick Lachey, and Lee Ann Womack. She dropped from a $125,000 question and won $32,000 for charity. A year later, in 2002, the episode of her drop was shown and was dedicated to her.

Lopes created "Left Eye Productions" to discover new talent. She helped the R&B trio Blaque to secure a record deal with Columbia Records. Their self-titled debut album was executive-produced by Lopes, who also made a cameo appearance on the album and in their music video "I Do". Lopes was also developing another new band called Egypt. They worked on her second album under her new nickname, N.I.N.A, meaning New Identity Not Applicable.[11]

Supernova

Lopes spent much of her free time after the conclusion of TLC's first headlining tour behind Fanmail recording her debut album, Supernova. It includes a song titled "A New Star is Born" which is dedicated to her late father. She told MTV News:

That track is dedicated to all those that have loved ones that have passed away. It's saying that there is no such thing as death. We can call it transforming for a lack of better words, but as scientists would say, 'Every atom that was once a star is now in you.' It's in your body. So in the song I pretty much go along with that idea. ... I don't care what happens or what people think about death, it doesn't matter. We all share the same space."[12]

Other tracks covered personal issues including her relationship with NFL football player Andre Rison. Among the album's twelve tracks was a posthumous duet with Tupac Shakur that was assembled from the large cache of unreleased recordings done prior to his murder in 1996. The unreleased song "Left Pimpin" was sampled for the song "Quickie", which is featured on TLC's fourth album, 3D. Initially scheduled for release on a date to coincide with the tenth anniversary of her father's passing, Supernova was then delayed for two months before her American label chose to shelve the project. The album was eventually released outside of the United States, and hardcore American TLC fans caused a demand for import copies of the album from the UK and Japan.

N.I.N.A

After numerous talks with Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight, Lopes severed her solo deal with Arista Records (she remained contracted with the label as a member of TLC) and signed with Knight's Tha Row Records, intending to record a second solo album under the pseudonym N.I.N.A. (New Identity Not Applicable). N.I.N.A. was to include several songs recorded by and with Ray J.[13]

Eye Legacy

In 2008 Lisa's family decided to work with producers at Surefire Music Group to create a posthumous album in honor of her. Originally set to be released October 28, 2008, the release date was pushed back to November 11, then to January 27, 2009. "Crank It", which features her younger sister Reigndrop Lopes, was released as a promo single. The first official single from the album, "Let's Just Do It", was released on January 13, 2009 and features Missy Elliott and TLC. The second official single "Block Party" featuring Lil Mama and Marcus Amandi.

The album largely consisted of reworked versions of tracks from the Supernova album.

Personal life

Lopes was often vocal about her personal life and difficult past. She readily admitted she had come from an abusive, alcoholic background and suffered with alcohol problems herself. These problems became headline news in 1994, when she set fire to Andre Rison's tennis shoes in a bathtub, which ultimately set fire to their mansion, destroying it. Lopes claimed "I was just trying to barbecue his tennis shoes", as revenge for his infidelity and abuse.[14]

Lopes, who was sentenced to five years probation and therapy at a halfway house, was never able to shake that incident from her reputation. Her tumultuous relationship with Rison continued to make headlines, with rumors of an imminent wedding, which were later debunked by People magazine.[15] Lopes revealed on the Last Days of Left Eye documentary that her meeting with a struggling mother in rehab left a big impression on her. Lopes ended up adopting her daughter, Snow, who appeared in the video for her single, "The Block Party".[16]

Adding to Lopes' flamboyant attitude, she had several large tattoos. Most prominent was a large eagle on her left arm which she said represented freedom. Later she added the number "80" around the eagle, which was Rison's NFL number.[17] She also had a tattoo of a moon with a face on her foot in reference to Rison's nickname, Bad Moon. On her upper right arm was a large tattoo of the name Parron, for her late stepbrother, arching over a large tattoo of a pierced heart. Her smallest tattoo was on her left ear and consisted of an arrow pointing to her left over the symbol of an eye, a reference to her nickname.[18]

Charity

Lopes started the Lisa Lopes Foundation, Inc. The charitable group is dedicated to providing neglected and abandoned youth with the resources necessary to increase their quality of life. Her spiritual motto is the one that she used for her foundation: 'Energy never dies...It just transforms.' Her foundation went into various underdeveloped villages and gave away brand new clothes to needy children and their families in June 2004.

Death

Lopes had already started work on both her second solo album and on songs for the fourth TLC album, 3D, when she died in a car accident in La Ceiba, Honduras on April 25, 2002. She was the sole fatality of eight people in the vehicle, a Mitsubishi Montero Sport that she was driving. Lopes allegedly tried to swerve around a truck, but there was another vehicle heading towards them in the opposite direction. To avoid a head-on collision, Lopes swerved all the way off the road. The vehicle rolled several times after hitting two trees, throwing Lopes and three others out of the windows. She died from severe head injuries.[19] The passenger in the front passenger seat was videotaping at the time, and so the entire accident was recorded on video. Lopes' mother Wanda later sued Mitsubishi Motors, as the Montero was prone to rollovers according to a 2001 Consumer Reports review.[20]

Her funeral was held at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia.[21] Engraved upon her white casket was her rap from "Waterfalls": "Dreams are hopeless aspirations, in hopes of coming true, believe in yourself, the rest is up to me and you". Lopes was buried at Hillandale Memorial Gardens, in Lithonia, Georgia, USA.[22]

TLC's longtime producer, Dallas Austin heard the news when he was going out and "Waterfalls" was being played in the downstairs of his house. "Maybe that's why the music is playing so loud downstairs," Austin added. In a statement to MTV, producer Jermaine Dupri remembered Lopes:

"She was determined to be something in life. She was a true Hip-Hop star. She cared about some press. She was the star out of the group. She was the one who would curse on TV. She had the tattoos. You could not expect the expected. When you see Lisa, you could expect something from her. That is the gift she carried."[12]

A documentary on the final twenty-six days of Lopes' life, entitled The Last Days of Left Eye premiered at the Atlanta Film Festival in April 2007, for an audience that included many of Lopes's contemporaries, such as Monica, Ronnie DeVoe of New Edition, 112, Big Boi, India.Arie, and Cee-Lo.[14] VH1 and VH1 Soul broadcast the documentary on May 19, 2007. Much of the footage was shot with a hand-held camera, often in the form of diary entries filmed by Lopes while on a 30 day spiritual retreat in Honduras with family and members of the R&B group Egypt.[23] In these entries she reflected on her personal life and career. The high-energy performer revealed a calmer side, with interests in numerology and yoga. She was in the process of setting up an educational center for Honduran children on 80 acres (320,000 m2) of land she owned.[24] The film also captured a car accident that she was involved in during filming, which killed a Honduran child with the surname Lopez. Lopes was not wearing a seat belt. Lopes is shown in a local funeral home choosing a casket for the child. Earlier in the documentary, Lopes mentioned that she feels the presence of a "spirit" following her, and was struck by the fact that the child killed in the accident shared her last name, even thinking that the spirit may have made a mistake by taking his life instead of hers. The program also showed the last minutes of Lopes' life, including her swerving off the road.[14]

Controversy over leaked autopsy photos led to a protest by NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt, Jr.[25] Earnhardt painted a stripe next to the left headlight decal on his #8 Chevrolet Monte Carlo for the Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway to protest the display of her autopsy photos. A similar controversy befell Earnhardt after the death of his father, Dale Earnhardt, Sr. a year earlier.[26]

Lopes' UNI Studios

In 1998, Lopes created the UNI Studios for the purpose of recording solo projects.[27] Lopes' family opened the studio to the public.[28]

Discography

References

  1. ^ Reid, Shaheem; Vineyard, Jennifer (2002-04-26). "Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes Killed In Car Accident". mtv.com. http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1453611/20020426/tlc.jhtml. Retrieved 22 November 2009. 
  2. ^ Krulik, Nancy (2002). Lisa Lopes: The Life of a Supernova. Simon and Schuster. pp. 93. ISBN 0-689-85690-3. 
  3. ^ a b "Sad rap: Lisa Lopes". CNN.com. 2002-05-07. http://archives.cnn.com/2002/SHOWBIZ/Music/05/07/cel.lopes/index.html. Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  4. ^ Pareles, Jon (2002-04-27). "Lisa Lopes, Rapper, Dies in Honduras Crash at 30". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9404E3DF113EF934A15757C0A9649C8B63. Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  5. ^ Freydkin, Donna (1999-02-25). "TLC's glam goddesses resurface with 'Fan Mail'". CNN.com. http://www.cnn.com/SHOWBIZ/Music/9902/25/tlc/index.html?related. Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  6. ^ Krulik, Nancy (2002). Lisa Lopes: The Life of a Supernova. Simon and Schuster. pp. 41. ISBN 0-689-85690-3. 
  7. ^ Gill, John (1999-11-23). "TLC's Left Eye Challenges T-Boz, Chili To Solo Album Showdown". mtv.com. http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1434872/19991123/tlc.jhtml. Retrieved 2008-09-29. 
  8. ^ Sinclair, Tom (2000-11-27). "Left Field". ew.com. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,89290,00.html. Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  9. ^ Sinclair, Tom (1999-10-29). "Unpretty Situation". ew.com. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,84754,00.html. Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  10. ^ "Left Eye's sideways look at life". news.bbc.co.uk. 2002-04-12. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/1952726.stm. Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  11. ^ Cruz, Clarissa; Sinclair, Tom (2002-05-02). "Waterfalls of Tears". http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,234794,00.html. Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  12. ^ a b Chilli, T-Boz, Jermaine Dupri Remember TLC's Left Eye
  13. ^ SoulSite.de - Interview :: Ray J - Gefragt und gedrängelt :: 10.03.2006 | SoulSite.de :: Slow-Jams.de - The Home Of Soul
  14. ^ a b c Lisa Lopes Documentary Captures Singer's Last Days
  15. ^ 82,00.html Whither 'Left Eye' Lopes and Rison?
  16. ^ TLC time for Lisa Lopes Tour Dates. Retrieved April 29, 2009
  17. ^ Interview with The Independent
  18. ^ VanishingTattoo.com entry
  19. ^ Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes, member of Grammy award-winning trio TLC, dies in car crash in Honduras Findarticles.com Retrieved on 04-19-07
  20. ^ Left Eye's Mother Sues Automaker Over Fatal Crash
  21. ^ Susman, Gary (2002-04-30). "Bad Car-ma". ew.com. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,234414,00.html. Retrieved 22 November 2009. 
  22. ^ Findagrave.com entry with photos
  23. ^ Singer at the End of Time: The Video Diary of Lisa Lopes, nytimes.com
  24. ^ The Idyllic Last Days of Lisa Lopes
  25. ^ NASCAR.com Retrieved on 04-19-07
  26. ^ "Thousands gather in Atlanta to mourn TLC's Lisa `Left Eye' Lopes". Jet. 2002-05-20. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1355/is_22_101/ai_87210833. Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  27. ^ "About Uni Studios". unimusicstudios.com. http://www.unimusicstudios.com/about.php. Retrieved 2008-07-24. 
  28. ^ "Left Eye's Uni Studio's and Emancipated Talent Present a "Summer 2008 Star Showcase" for Unsigned Talent". 24-7pressrelease.com. 2008-05-29. http://www.24-7pressrelease.com/press-release/left-eyes-uni-studios-and-emancipated-talent-presenta-summer-2008-star-showcase-for-unsigned-talent-51470.php. Retrieved 2008-07-24. 

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