One on One


T-Boz voice

Source: Gregory Pace/FilmMagic / Getty

Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins would like to set the record straight about who is truly the mastermind behind her deep singing voice.

During an interview alongside Chilli on T.I.’s podcast ExpediTIously, she responded to comments producer Jermaine Dupri made on the same podcast months earlier that she felt gave the impression that he was saying he created her low register. The 50-year-old said that wasn’t the case, because she was singing deep before they even met. Giving that impression and taking credit for her sound is something T-Boz said she couldn’t allow.

“As a woman and a Black woman actually who’s in this industry, for both of us to not sleep our way up, suck our way up, and for me to do it off my talent, when you have certain accolades and things you really worked hard for, you can’t let people take that from you,” she said.

She called his account of some things “very inaccurate. It was like a revisionist history.”

She said she has no problem giving people their just dues, but “facts are facts,” and everyone needs to stick to them. She allegedly started singing deep at an audition that Dupri attended along with Organized Noize’s Rico Wade, performing Guy’s “I Wanna Get With U” and saying she was inspired by Jody Watley’s “Still a Thrill” to try out the low register.

“That song was how I figured out I could really sing deep,” she said. “I was rocking the low notes at 17 years old.”

“It’s a big misconception because it wasn’t like he looked at me and said, ‘This blonde girl, I’m a make her sound deep!” she added. “He knew I could sing deep because the night of the audition, the night that I sang in the audition, I sang deep.”

But what he did do, she says, is he encouraged her to keep that deep register as her signature sound. She was initially uncomfortable with the idea. However, he told her it was a good sound, and after speaking with her mother about it, she decided to go with it.

“He really did make me feel confident in doing something I was already doing,” she said. “I give people credit for what they really did.”

In the ExpediTIously interview with Dupri, he shared with T.I. that he told her to mimic how he sounded on a demo, he recorded for she and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez, and that’s how her singing voice came to be what it is.

“The way I was singing the demo, I was like, ‘I want you to sing it like this,’” he said. “She was like, ‘That’s low. Don’t nobody want to hear me sing like that.’ Nah. ‘Nah, you gotta be cool. Sing down here where I’m at. You hear where I’m at? You gotta sing where I’m at.’ So Tionne started mimicking my demo. That’s how she got that sound, the T-Boz sound that people know of today.”

Making it seem as if she isn’t behind her sound takes away from the work she says she did.

“I’m not even mad because he’s always like my brother. I hate that I even have to come and explain it because I don’t like explaining sh-t,” she said. “But the thing is, that’s why I told you in the beginning, as a woman, you can’t take that from a man. That kind of sh-t in this industry matters.”

“Just keep it as it is is all I’m really saying,” she added. “Just don’t add the ‘I created you’ part and she was copying me and I was on that vibe.’”

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