‘NSYNC, Lil’ Kim, Treach, More Recall Left Eye’s Rebellious Spirit

Friends, collaborators, peers miss rapper's energy, professionalism.

The harsh realization that Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes is no longer with us is settling in with some of her peers in the music industry. Some are still expressing their words of mourning, and some are reflecting on fond memories.

“We are saddened today, and we have suffered a true loss to our industry,” ‘NSYNC said in a statement on Friday. “Lisa was a wonderful person who always brought high energy and a great vibe when she walked into a room. It was a pleasure and a lot of fun to work with her. She will be truly missed.” (Click for photos of Left Eye and her friends.)

“It leaves a big void in particular, with [TLC],” producer Jimmy Jam said of her death (see “Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes Killed In Car Accident” ). “Every piece of that group was an important part of it. The thing I’m going to miss overall about her is her spirit. She embodied everything that was great about the music business, which is self-expression and rebellion. Not doing what people wanted you to do because it was the right thing to do politically. Her whole attitude is going to be missed.”

Jam said that due to a misunderstanding, Left Eye rebelled against him when he initially tried to get her to rap on “I’m Good at Being Bad,” a cut from TLC’s Fan Mail. Apparently she thought he wanted her to recite rhymes written by a ghostwriter. When she found out that wasn’t the case, Lopes showed him her work ethic.

“She hopped on a plane from Atlanta and came to L.A. [where we were in the studio],” he remembered. “She came to the studio, wrote her rhyme and dropped her verse in an hour and hopped back on a plane to Atlanta. Needless to say, I was impressed with her professionalism and talent. She wanted whatever her representation on the album was to be her idea.”

“TLC has always been one of my favorite groups,” Lil’ Kim told MTV News on Friday. “When they first came on, I always used to say, ‘Damn, they remind me of myself.’ They were real street, but always had this girlie-girl edge, just fun and not caring.

“I first got to know [Left Eye] when we reached out to her to do the ‘Ladies’ Night’ remix,” she continued, “and before the record took place, she called me on the phone and I was really excited, like, ‘I’m really getting ready to do a record with her.’ I actually wanted all the members on the song, but that’s the way it turned out.”

While groupmate T-Boz didn’t make it onto the song, she did show up on the video set, as did the cut’s other co-stars: Angie Martinez, Da Brat and Missy Elliott. Kim said she bonded most strongly with Lopes, at least for one of the scenes.

“One thing I remember is how we were all on that yacht during the ‘Ladies Night’ shoot,” Kim began, laughing. “Me and Left Eye were sitting in the corner laughing at Angie and Da Brat throwing up. They couldn’t really take the boat, and Missy couldn’t take the boat. Everybody was getting sick except me and Left Eye.

“After the video, we got really close, and she would always try to get me to go to Honduras with her,” Kim continued. “She was like, ‘Kim, I’m telling you, it’s beautiful out there.’ There’s a purifying lake she used to go to. There’s a man out there who was a witch doctor or something who she would go to. He would cleanse your soul. She’s been trying to get me to go out there for years. This year, I was really thinking about going out there. So it’s weird that this happened.”

Treach of Naughty By Nature had a chance to travel a lot with TLC doing shows. He remembered the girl he referred to as a female Tupac, a free spirit who once bought him an engraved axe.

“Lisa Lopes, she was a fun-loving kid, loving to be different,” said Treach, who made sure an Ooooooohhh … On the TLC Tip button was placed on a teddy bear in Naughty’s “Hip-Hop Hooray” video. “You saw that from the way [TLC] dressed, from their attitudes. She was the thug out of the group. ‘Let’s go hang out. Let’s go all night long.’ Her attitude was that wild side, whether she was making records or working in Burger King.

“She was the outlaw of the clique,” he added. “The one that would be the center of attention in the news. She was looking at it like, ‘Why don’t people understand why I’m doing this?’ ”

Rockwilder understood the method to her madness, both outside and inside the studio. He worked on her solo LP, Supernova. “She was an angel,” Rock said. “She was always teaching us.”

The producer said that Left Eye used to bring books about God into the studio and that she would put him and his crew up on her spirituality studies. It was in the studio where the producer learned of Left Eye’s death.

“Yeah, I was in the studio,” Rockwilder recalled. “Redman’s 2way went off and it said, ‘Left Eye just got killed.’ We didn’t want to believe it. … As soon as we found that out, the whole thing stopped. We threw it up for her. Got some drinks. All night I was thinking, like, ‘Wow, she’s gone.’

“I guess she would want to be remembered as just being her,” he added. Nothing star-studded about her. Her. A lot of her friends and family … a lot of people are feeling [the loss].”

For complete coverage on the Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes tragedy, see Remembering Left Eye: The Lisa Lopes Reports.

For more reaction from the music world to the death of Lisa Lopes, see “Chilli, T-Boz, Jermaine Dupri Remember TLC’s Left Eye.” )

For fan tributes to Left Eye, see You Tell Us: Remembering Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes.”

For a look back at TLC and how they worked together on the road, check out “TLC & Christina Aguilera: Together On Tour” and “TLC: Tour Talk” in the MTV News Archive.

—Shaheem Reid, with additional reporting by Kurt Loder