Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled Lil Rel Howery on why TLC’s “No Scrubs” is just plain mean

In HateSong, we ask our favorite musicians, writers, comedians, actors, and so forth to expound on the one song they hate most in the world.

The hater: A favorite of and frequent opener for Hannibal Buress, Lil Rel Howery is beginning to make some serious stand-up waves. He’s currently a cast member on The Carmichael Show, and the second season of his sketch comedy show, Friends Of The People, is airing on TruTV. He’s about to get some solo time in the spotlight as well, with his Kevin Hart-produced hour-long stand-up special, RELevant, premiering this Saturday night on Comedy Central.


The hated: TLC, “No Scrubs” (1999)

The A.V. Club: Why did you pick “No Scrubs”?

Lil Rel Howery: “No Scrubs” is a mean song for a lot of reasons. If you’re 18, 19-year-old guy, or even 17, your friend just got a license. You don’t have a real job yet. It’s like that song asks you to be an adult way faster than you should. I don’t know when that song came out, but there were just a lot of females in that age range singing it to guys who honestly don’t need to have any of that stuff. Most likely, I’m riding in the car with my friends. This dude is the first dude with a license and a car, so we’re all stacked up in this car.

It’s just not fair, man. That’s a mean ass song. They need to put an age limit on those rules. “If you’re 20 and you live like this.” Like, I’m 19. I ain’t supposed to have all this other stuff yet.

AVC: Well, what about if you’re 35? Is it okay then?

LRH: Well, guess what? They don’t say that. They just go right in. If they put an age on the song, then it makes sense. “A scrub is a man that’s 35.” Say that.


It’s just kind of mean, man. If we made a song like that, nobody would listen to it.

AVC: Maybe they’re just mad about the catcalling.

LRH: If you listen to the song, it’s literally describing what regular groups of guys do in the car. There is like a bunch of catcalling.


“A scrub is a guy who is catcalling”—they should say this stuff. But they don’t. They describe five guys hanging out.

“No Scrubs” is so mean. It just gives fuel to women who shouldn’t be singing “No Scrubs” to be like, “I don’t want no scrubs.” Then you don’t want nobody then. Just throwing that out there.


AVC: Are you calling these women hypocrites?

LRH: Exactly. Exactly. Look, I’m all for making a woman-empowering song. I get that and I think that’s dope. I’ve got a daughter and I think that’s amazing. But when you’re specifically picking on guys, that’s when it’s not right. “No Scrubs” is the meanest, dumbest song ever made because they need to be specific in certain areas.


AVC: Do you like other TLC songs?

LRH: I love TLC. Chilli is still one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen and she’s in her 40s now.


I saw her in person last year. She had a show on TruTV last year and we had [the Television Critics Association press tour]. I didn’t even know she was going to be there and it was almost one of those weird slow motion moments. She’s one of the finest women I’ve ever seen in my life. Just… how gorgeous she is, but then “No Scrubs” popped into my head and it was like, “No, no. I’m cool.”

AVC: So if she asked you on a date, you would deny her on the basis of “No Scrubs”?


LRH: If Chilli were to ask me on a date, she would have to explain to me why she wrote this.


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