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Oh Yes Son, Chilli’s Talking to You: How ‘No Scrubs’ Redefined Dating
by Dontaira Terrell
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February 4, 2020

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7 Minute Read

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Oh Yes Son, Chilli’s Talking to You: How ‘No Scrubs’ Redefined Dating

Credit: Dewayne Rogers

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.”

Related: In Search Of: Fulfillment

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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. 

It’s better to be alone than to be in a relationship that is miserable or doesn’t make you happy.

It provided us with the tools about the no-nos of dating and mating. The song was not a bashing of men, as some critics stated but more of a reflection of self-love. If you dig deep beyond the surface level of the song’s lyrics and into the [actual] message, it was empowering and served as a reminder of a woman’s worth. It is cautioning women never to settle and to keep those standards high. If you entertain the lessons, then best believe you’re going to miss out on that blessing. And for the fellas, it was a teaching moment to step your game up on how to approach women and treat us with R-E-S-P-E-C-T. But honestly, what was a comical scrub move was Sporty Thievz’s follow-up response with “No Pigeons.” 

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Fortunately, our girl Chilli has never dealt with a scrub but does have some dating advice for successful unmarried women who often get a single stigma attached to them. “Keep your standards high. It’s important to understand being in a healthy relationship is ideal, but if it hasn’t happened, learn to be okay with that. It’s better to be alone than to be in a relationship that is miserable or doesn’t make you happy. Too many people settle in relationships that aren’t right for them to avoid being alone. And that’s crazy.” 

On both ends of the spectrum, the ‘90s classic tune drops gems on the importance of valuing integrity, building an equal partnership, and, most importantly, not tolerating the bare minimum [the bullshit].

Being in a healthy relationship is ideal, but if it hasn’t happened, learn to be okay with that.

Credit: hotnewhiphop.com/

In case you’re wondering how the singer continues to stay “looking like class,” over the years, she insists, “What you put in your body and how you care for it will show up in your quality of life as you get older. It’s important to treat yourself well.” This is a reiteration of showing up for yourself and the self-worth element we mentioned earlier. A consistent message for women throughout TLC’s musical career of making hits and dominating the charts. 

As the best-selling American girl group of all time, they weren’t strangers to creating empowering anthems and opening doors for other artists. In 1999  “No Scrubs” was the “Top Airplay Song” and a trailblazing moment in music. Written by Xscape members Kandi Burruss and  Tameka “Tiny” Cottle, no one can deny it’s still a vibe even today. It struck a chord with many of us. One that still sticks. When I think about my life partner, companionship, or investing my time and energy with a prospective suitor, I DON’T WANT NO SCRUB.” Do you? 

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