L.A. Reid said something during a recent radio interview that his ex-wife and former TLC manager, Pebbles, has been insinuating for years: that it was LaFace Record's parent-label companies—Arista and BMG—that caused the money-flow problem for TLC.
Even when Pebbles insinuated this, as she did during TLC's Behind the Music special on VH1 years ago, she would always tiptoe around it, as if never wanting to point her fingers directly at a monolithic company like Arista or BMG.
During an interview with a New York City radio station this week, Reid was a bit more vocal about it, but he was also hesitant to come out and blatantly blame BMG for the financial distress that TLC experienced.
But first let's establish TLC's record-label food chain here: TLC was not only managed by Pebbles but also signed to her production company and record label, Pebbletone, which acted like a subsidiary label on TLC's behalf with LaFace Records (Reid's label with Babyface). But LaFace was a subsidiary of Arista Records (Clive Davis was in charge at the time), which is a subsidiary of BMG.
During the radio interview, when Reid was asked why all the blame goes to Pebbles regarding why TLC experienced such financial hardship, instead of, perhaps, to him, Reid cleared his ex-wife's name.
"In fairness to her, she doesn't collect the money from record sales. Record companies do that," Reid explained.
"At that point, we were in a joint venture with Arista and BMG. So if Pebbles is accused of not paying TLC, then that means that I didn't pay her, which means that they didn't pay me," he continued.
"So if we're smarter about it, we're going to look to the source and say, 'Wait a minute. So if there was a shorting going on, where would that have taken place?' " he asked rhetorically, insinuating that it was the executives at the top of the TLC food chain that controlled, and thereby bottlenecked, the cash flow to the trio.
"I can tell you on the record that Pebbles never robbed anybody or ripped anybody off," Reid said.
When asked to specifically point an accusatory finger at Arista and BMG, Reid danced around the question: "Listen, y'all smart people. Y'all smart people, right? You're smart."
There goes that.
Reid also said that he didn't watch the TLC biopic because it portrayed Pebbles, the mother of his children, in a bad light: "I knew that my children weren't happy about it. If I have to take a side, I'm going to side with my family."
Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.