Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, the outspoken MC from the multiplatinum girl group TLC, is working on a solo project that she says will be released early next year, and she's formed a new production company that will develop and sign acts to major labels.
Lopes, 29, said that she sees the as-yet-untitled album as "an extension of TLC" that will mostly focus on "self," but she made it clear that should in no way imply that the group is breaking up.
"It's just an outlet for me to be creative, and basically I'm on my own terms," she said. "I know how I am, and I know how spread out I can be at times, so this is my chance to try to do all that Lisa feels without being held back."
Regarding the content of the album, which will be released on LaFace Records, she said, "Hip-hop will be the base, but we're playing around with fusing hip-hop and alternative, hip-hop and R&B, hip-hop and Latin.
"Some of the tracks are kinda hard to describe. I'm thinking that when you think of TLC and the variety of music that TLC delivers, you can kind of expect that same type of variety from my solo album."
Lopes also said the album would reflect more of her beliefs and experiences.
"There will be certain songs that reflect certain situations in my life, but there will also be songs that reflect life. We seem to be in an age where a lot of people are asking a lot of questions: Who are we? Why are we here? Everyone's becoming more aware, so we're gonna touch on a little bit of religion, things from a metaphysical standpoint. We just want to dig into the listener's head."
Lopes added that the album also would contain its share of "club tracks" and "relationship tracks." She said it would feature work by two up-and-coming production teams, Twin Dragons and Cool Ruckus. No well-known producers have signed on as yet, she said, stressing that she was more concerned about music quality than name recognition.
"My thing is hot tracks that I think I can work with or will work with my project and the direction I'm taking it in," she said. "With the well-known producers, there's a listening session that we would have to go through so that I can pick tracks, as opposed to me hiring them and taking whatever they give me."
Lopes' new production company, Wish, also is keeping the Atlanta artist busy these days. So far the company has signed five acts: rapping duo Rusx, solo rapper Marquise, Latin singer Luis Cartegena, country singer Jason Bowen and female vocalist Shonda. Lopes has developed artists before she conceived of R&B/rap trio Blaque and signed them to her previous production company, Left Eye Productions.
Lopes says her new company is looking for multitalented artists. "I've really been focusing on artists who perform, sing or rap as well as produce."
Ian Burke, Lopes' partner in Wish, said the company strives for a broad artistic vision. "We didn't want to be the typical rap, urban label. We wanted to keep our doors open for just music in general. We're also looking at a rock-rap band. We want to be different in the fact that we cross all genres."
Burke, 34, who works as associate director of repertoire for ASCAP, has long been involved in breaking and developing acts in Atlanta. He was involved in the early stages of development of acts including Xscape, OutKast, Kris Kross, Arrested Development, TLC, Mista and Solé.
He met Lopes during an audition in 1989.
"She actually auditioned for me when I was putting together the blueprint group for what is now known as TLC," he said. "We met when she was 19, and she auditioned for the group called Second Nature."
Burke said that while Wish was focusing on developing artists and securing recording contracts with major record labels, the company eventually might become a full-fledged label.