FanMail is the third studio album by American girl group TLC, released on February 23, 1999 by LaFace Records and Arista Records. The title of the album is a tribute to their fans who sent them fan mail during their hiatus. FanMail debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, selling approximately 318,000 copies in its first week of release, and spent five weeks at number one.
The album took on a new world, futuristic style, which was highly popular throughout the late 1990s to early 2000s. This style was effectively portrayed in the album's most popular song "No Scrubs", along with the music video, which embraces a modern emphasis on female strength and independence. The album also featured a custom font design, cover art with decode-able binary code, along with pictures of the group members in metallic skin tones. The album's CD insert folds out to form a large poster featuring a picture of TLC and the names of thousands of people who sent them fan mail along their career. A limited edition of the album was released, and had an insert with a lenticular version of the cover placed in front of the original booklet in the jewel case. The album contained several tracks featuring vocals by the computer modulated voice Vic-E (Vikki), a talking android later featured in the FanMail Tour.
The album title is a tribute to TLC's fans after their five-year hiatus. The title came from group member Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes, who also coined the group's first two album titles, Ooooooohhh... On the TLC Tip and CrazySexyCool. There is an explicit version and a clean version replacing certain curse words, some sexual remarks, and some racial slurs. The explicit version comes with a Parental Advisory sticker, their first album to do so. FanMail was the group's final album released during Lopes' lifetime, before she died three years later. Lopes co-wrote five of the album's songs, while Watkins also co-wrote five and Thomas co-wrote one.
The album received critical acclaim. Rolling Stone declared FanMail "equal parts steely bitch and sweet sister, superfreak and misty romantic, self-centered coffee achiever and spiritualized earth mama."
FanMail debuted atop the US Billboard 200 and spent five non-consecutive weeks at number one. It also debuted at number one on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. According to Nielsen SoundScan, it has sold 4.7 million copies in the United States, and has been certified six-times platinum by the RIAA for shipping six million copies. Internationally, the album reached the top 10 in New Zealand, Canada, and the United Kingdom.
"Silly Ho", "I'm Good at Being Bad" and "My Life" served as promotional singles for the album. Those songs charted on the US Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. "No Scrubs" was the official lead single and topped the US Billboard Hot 100 for four consecutive weeks, becoming TLC's biggest commercial successes in years. It also ranked at number two on Billboard's Year-End Hot 100 of 1999. Follow-up single "Unpretty" also topped the Billboard Hot 100, spending three weeks at number one and placing at number 20 on the Year-End Hot 100. "Shout" was planned to be the next US single, but it was cancelled in favor of "Dear Lie". Which was released as the album's final single, but never made it to the US top 50 as it was only released internationally. The album has sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
At the 2000 Grammy Awards, the album received eight nominations, including one for Album of the Year. The album won three awards. Singer-songwriter Kyla covered "I Miss You So Much" for her sixth album Heartfelt and rapper/singer Drake recorded a cover of the opening track, "FanMail", for his song, "I Get Lonely Too". A remix features Jeremih, while another extended mix and mashup features TLC. The songs are featured on The FanMail Mixtape and It's Never Enough mixtape on DatPiff.com.
Released online by TLC on MP3.com to promote the FanMail Tour. Produced by Rico Lumpkins for PWPX, LLC. Written by R. Lumpkins, L. Lopes, and S. Chunn. Left Eye's rap was later expanded and rerecorded on the track "Gimme Some" from Toni Braxton's album The Heat as well as being completely reused and shortened on the track "Whoop De Woo" from the compilation Now and Forever: The Hits, originally intended for the group's fourth album 3D.
On initial pressings of the album, "Whispering Playa – Interlude" featured a sample of "Cold Blooded" by Rick James playing in the background. The sample was removed on subsequent editions, likely due to copyright reasons, with the background music being a clip of another TLC song, "U in Me", instead.
The song "I'm Good at Being Bad" originally featured interpolated lyrics from Donna Summer's "Love to Love You Baby", but the interpolated lyrics were later removed on later pressings of the explicit version. They were never removed from the clean version of the album.