Lisa Nicole Lopes (May 27, 1971 – April 25, 2002) better known
by her stage name Left Eye, was an American rapper, singer, dancer, and
songwriter. She is best known as a member of the R&B girl group TLC.
Lopes contributed her self-written raps to many of TLC's hit singles,
including "Ain't 2 Proud 2 Beg", "What About Your Friends", "Hat
2 da Back", "No Scrubs", "Waterfalls", and "Girl
TLC started off as a female trio called Second Nature. The group was
renamed TLC — derived from the first initials of its then three
members — Tionne, Lisa and Crystal. Things did not work out with
Crystal Jones, and TLC's manager Perri "Pebbles" Reid brought
in Damian Dame 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, and so became Chilli, which was coined
by Lopes. Band mate Tionne Watkins became T-Boz, while Lopes was renamed
Left Eye. Lopes celebrated her nickname by wearing a black mark; often
a wrapped condom, in keeping with the group's promotion of safe sex–later
evolving to a black stripe under the eye, and then an eyebrow ring
in her left eyebrow.
The group arrived on the scene in 1992 with the album Ooooooohhh...
On the TLC Tip. With four singles, it sold six million copies worldwide
and TLC became a household name. 1994 saw the release of CrazySexyCool,
which sold over fifteen million copies worldwide and cemented TLC as
one of the biggest female groups of all time. TLC's third album, FanMail,
was released in 1999 and sold over ten million copies worldwide. Its
title was a tribute to TLC's loyal fans and the sleeve contained the
names of hundreds of them as a "thank you" to supporters.
During the recording of FanMail, a public conflict began amongst the
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." 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 reply
through 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. ”
T-Boz and Chilli declined to take up the "Challenge,"
though Lopes always maintained it was a great idea. Things were heated
between the ladies for some time, with Thomas speaking out against
Lopes, calling her antics "selfish", "evil", and "heartless."
TLC then addressed these fights by saying that they are very much like
sisters that have their disagreements every now and then as Lisa stated, "It's
deeper than a working relationship. We have feelings for each other,
which is why we get so mad at each other. I usually say that you cannot
hate someone unless you love them. So, we love each other. That's the
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. She was also featured on the first single from
Donell Jones' second album, "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, rather than rapping.
Lopes was also the host of the MTV series, The Cut, a series on 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 too scored a record deal. 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.
Main article: Supernova (Lisa Lopes album)
Lopes spent much of her free time after the conclusion of TLC's first
headlining tour supporting Fanmail recording her debut solo 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." ”
Other tracks covered personal issues, including her relationship with
NFL football player Andre Rison. In 1994, Lopes famously burned down
Rison's Atlanta mansion, resulting in the loss of all his possessions.
Among the album's twelve tracks was also 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 death, Arista Records
decided to delay, then cancel the American release. The album was eventually
released between 2001 and 2003 in various foreign territories.
After numerous talks with Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight, Lopes
severed her solo deal with Arista–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). She was recording with David Bowie for
the project, who she was also trying to get involved with the fourth
TLC album. The project was also to include several songs recorded by
and with Ray J. The album was cancelled after Lopes's death in April
Main article: Eye Legacy
In 2008 Lopes' family decided to work with producers at Surefire Music
Group to create a posthumous album in her honor. Originally set to
be released October 28, 2008, the release date was pushed back to November
11, then to January 27, 2009. The song "Crank It", which
features Lopes's sister Reigndrop, was released as a promotional 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", features Lil Mama
and Clyde McKnight.
The album largely consisted of reworked versions of tracks from the
Lopes was often vocal about her personal life and difficult past.
She readily admitted that she had come from an abusive, alcoholic background
and struggled 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 spread to the mansion they shared, destroying
it. Lopes claimed that Rison had beaten her after a night out, and
she set fire to his shoes to get back at him. The media quickly turned
this incident into the worst as they pointed out that Lopes must be
a crazy alcoholic and for no reason, burned her boyfriend's house down.
Lopes then revealed that she did not have a lot of freedom within the
relationship and was abused mentally and physically, having released
all her frustrations on the night of the fire.
Lopes, who was sentenced to five years probation and therapy at a
halfway house, was never able to shake the incident from her reputation.
Her relationship with Rison continued to make headlines, with rumors
of an imminent wedding, later debunked by People magazine. 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 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
while in Atlanta. She also had a tattoo of a moon with a face on
her foot in reference to Rison's nickname, Bad Moon, which was not
seen often because Andre did not like Lisa revealing the tattoo to
other people. On her upper right arm was a large tattoo of the name
Parron, for her late stepbrother that died in a boating accident, 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.
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.
On April 25, 2002, while driving a Mitsubishi Montero Sport, Lisa
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 of neck injuries and severe head
trauma. The passenger in the front passenger seat was videotaping
at the time, so the last seconds leading up to the swerve that resulted
in the fatal accident were recorded on video. Lopes's mother Wanda
later sued Mitsubishi Motors, as the Montero was prone to rollovers
according to a 2001 Consumer Reports review.[clarification needed]
Her funeral was held at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia,
Georgia. Engraved upon her casket were the lyrics to her portion
of "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,
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."
Controversy over leaked autopsy photos led to a protest by NASCAR
star Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 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, a year earlier.
A documentary on the final twenty-six days of Lopes's 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,
including Monica, Ronnie DeVoe, 112, Big Boi, India.Arie, and Cee-Lo.
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. In
these entries she reflected on her personal life and career. A calmer
side of her personality was on display, showing 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.
The film also captured a car accident in which Lopes was a passenger
and her assistant was the driver: "It was dark when the car driven
by Lopes's assistant left the village. It is commonplace for people
to walk the roads that wind through Honduras, and it's often difficult
to see pedestrians." "Ten-year-old Bayron Isaul Fuentes
Lopez walked into the path of the van driven by Lopes' personal assistant.
The child had been trailing after his sisters and brothers and stepped
off the median strip at the last minute." The boy was hit. "Lopes'
party stopped and found the boy critically injured. They loaded him
into the car, and Lisa cradled the dying boy's bleeding head in her
arms. Someone gave him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as they rushed
him to a nearby hospital." Lopez died the next day and Lopes paid
for his medical expenses and funeral. Lopes is shown in a local
funeral home choosing a casket for the child. Earlier in the documentary,
Lopes mentioned that she felt 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." While her assistant
was never charged with any wrongdoing, Lopes later compensated the
family for their loss." The program also showed the last minutes
of Lopes's life, including her swerving off the road.
Lopes's UNI Studios
In 1998, Lopes created the UNI Studios for the purpose of recording
solo projects. Lopes's family opened the studio to the public.
So far her brother Ronald Lopes is the general manager of the studio.
Lisa had a dream of letting new artists being able to record music
at a low price in a high-end studio at her house. Lisa's family continues
to operate it and fill it with new equipment.
Main articles: Lisa Lopes discography and TLC discography
2002: N.I.N.A. Cancelled
2009: Eye Legacy