20 Years of “No Scrubs”
Today in 1999, TLC released “No Scrubs,” the lead single from their third studio album, FanMail. It was the group’s return to the game after a four-year break that included a bankruptcy filing. Their previous album, 1994’s CrazySexyCool, was the group’s biggest commercial success, but due to mismanagement and greed on the part of their label, TLC ended up in debt despite having just sold over 20 million albums.
Four years is a long time in the music business and not everybody can afford to take that long of a break, but as we all found out, TLC ain’t everybody. “No Scrubs” was one of the biggest hits of 1999. The song became the group’s third No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and achieved 140 million impressions at radio, which was a record at the time.
Beyond the numbers, “No Scrubs” was a cultural moment. Women everywhere had a new go-to insult for men they considered to be lame, and lame niggas everywhere had their panties in a bunch. If you doubt that song’s impact, you need look no further than Sporty Thievz’s “No Pigeons,” which was a response to “No Scrubs” — not many songs inspire that much effort, and even fewer songs inspire response tracks that are hits in their own right.
“No Scrubs” was written by Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs, Kandi Burruss and Tameka “Tiny” Cottle — the latter two are members of XScpae and intended to release the song as a duo (called KaT) following XScape’s disbandment in the ’90s. When they got the call that TLC wanted the song, they gave it up — a decision that both Kandi and Tiny are now glad they made. The song went on to win Grammy Awards for Best R&B Song (a songwriter’s award) and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals, earning the duo their first and only Grammy win. Not to mention, they’ve probably made millions of dollars from that one song.