Back in ’99, TLC released one of their most groundbreaking hits. Not only did the song coin a new term, “Scrub,” but also reminded women of the type of guys to leave in the rearview. At only 13 years old, my young state of mind completely resonated with this song, and I usually belted out the lyrics word for word whenever this anthem blared through the speakers. Maybe it was the catchy lyrics or the infectious melodies, but either way, I believe the R&B trio schooled me early on about the dating game. Even though TLC tried to let many women know, including myself, the warning signs of dating someone who is not on your wavelength, some of us still fell victim to one “Scrub” or two in our dating lives. (Sigh).
Twenty-one years after its release and I’m instantly transported back in time to my teenage years. I can pinpoint the relevancy of each word throughout the song’s entirety well into my adulthood. When I asked Chilli, one of the group’s vocalists, why she felt it still resonated with women more than two decades later, she responded, “Well, guys are still acting like that, so it’s still true. I think the song will always be relevant because there will always be SCRUBS! Music that relates to situations that people experience will always resonate.”
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In case you need a refresher on the definition: “A scrub is a guy that thinks he’s fly/He’s also known as a busta/ Always talkin’ about what he wants/And just sits on his broke ass.” Let’s further add to this list because it is not a one-dimensional explanation. Scrubs come in all forms and ideologies. They are not just broke, or lack ambition as the Atlanta based group passionately sang about on the track. A scrub can also be the guy who doesn’t treat you well or value your presence. He can also be the one who doesn’t make you a priority but insists he wants a place in your life for the long haul. We can’t forget about the emotionally unavailable or the type that consistently plays games.
So exactly how did it revolutionize dating not just for women but also for men? Well, as Chilli said, “I think it became a guide for both. It showed women what to stay away from and showed guys what not to be.” And I totally agree with this statement! When you think back on the song’s release, it opened up the topic of discussion for relationships leading into the new millennium.