Meaning of “No Scrubs” by TLC

In colloquial language, a scrub is an aimless and broke dude who unfortunately “thinks he’s fly”. Such a guy can also be referred to as a “busta”. 

That said, the song “No Scrubs” is the American girl group TLC’s classic attack on broke, unmotivated guys. What particularly annoys the girls about these fellows isn’t there lack of income or inertia. Rather the frustration sets in when such a male actually tries to kick it to them, as in get their phone number so they can later hookup.

One dominant characteristic a scrub is said to possess is trying to holler at shorties from the “passenger’s side of his best friend’s ride”. Such a guy cannot afford his own car and rather spends time trying to score chicks while riding with his homey. Other realities that would classify a man as a scrub include the following:

  • If he lives with his mother
  • Already has a girl he doesn’t take care
  • Or most importantly, as alluded to earlier, is income-deficient.

Left Eye’s verse is little less scathing in terms of condemning broke dudes. Instead she seems more interested in a potential mate’s ability to take care of her overall as opposed to him being able to display wealth. Indeed other parts of the track, if read or listened to carefully, can be interpreted as such. However, the general sentiment clearly displayed is a condemnation of men who don’t have bankroll.

"No Scrubs" lyrics

Facts about “No Scrubs”

  • Writer(s): The writers of this track are Tameka “Tiny” Harris (wife of popular rapper T.I.), Kandi Burruss (of Real Housewives of Atlanta fame), TLC member the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and Kevin “She’kspere” Briggs.
  • Producer(s): In addition to being responsible for co-writing the song, She’kspere is also responsible for its production.
  • Album/EP: This is the fifth track featured on TLC’s 1999 album, FanMail.
  • Release Date: This song was released on 23 January 1999.
  • Record Label(s): The labels behind “No Scrubs” are LaFace and Arista Records.
  • 1st Interesting Stuff: “No Scrubs” received a vast number of accolades, including reaching number one on four different Billboard charts. It was so successful that it remained in the top 10 of the Hot 100 for 24 consecutive weeks.
  • 2nd Interesting Stuff: This song has been certified platinum in multiple countries, including Australia, Belgium and New Zealand. It was also certified double-platinum in the United Kingdom and gold in France, Sweden and the United States.
  • 3rd Interesting Stuff: Left Eye’s rap is not featured on the album version of “No Scrubs”. A rumor has been circulated on social media that Lisa did not agree with the theme of the song – making fun of broke guys – which may be the reason behind this.
  • 4th Interesting Stuff: The only member of TLC to receive songwriting credit on this track is Left Eye.
  • 5th Interesting Stuff: Ed Sheeran was accused of ripping off this song for his mega hit “Shape of You”, but he later gave “No Scrubs” its official credit.

Did “No Scrubs” win a Grammy?

Yes. It was nominated in 3 categories at the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards in 2000. These categories were: Record of the Year, Best R&B Song and Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. It won in the latter two categories. It lost the Grammy Award for Record of the Year to “Smooth” by Santana and Rob Thomas.

Did Avicii sample this song in his song “SOS”?

The 2019 posthumous song “SOS” by the late Swedish DJ Avicii interpolates this song. By virtue of that, the writers of “No Scrubs” are also given writing credits on “SOS”.

Who directed this song’s music video?

 The video for this song was directed by Hype Williams, who was the biggest name in music video production some 20 years ago. That video went on to win the 1999 MTV Video Music Award for Best Group Video.

9 Responses

  1. I have 2 cars and a motorbike says:

    So these girls just want to hookup with guys that have money? Well quite traditional. 😂😂

    • Anonymous says:

      You missed the point entirety. They’re dead beats bro.

    • Anonymous says:

      Shut up

      • Anonymous says:

        No, they want someone who is able to take care of them financially. Which is good because who wants to be with a broke ni–a? What can you do with no money, no car, living with your mama? Not a real man.

        • Anonymous says:

          Please, Not this “Not men” “Not women” bs, they all are grown people regardless lmao

        • Crazy says:

          “Not a real man” Lies, I’m sick of you all saying this bs along with “not a woman, just a girl” like fr …. We’re all grown and are different lmao.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Sadly the guy with the cars/bikes is totally missing the point! I get it. It’s not the case of money or acquisitions, more that a man can ‘stretch my horizons in the vernacular’ so a guy has to have the mental agility that will keep me on my toes and encourage me to improve and increase my mindset and he has to be a ‘big man’ not in physical size or love equipment more that he is generous of spirit, big in his mind, sees the whole picture and is ok working with it. Opens his arms to the world.
    Got it?

  3. Ally says:

    I really like “No Scrubs”. The song is about guys who only want to mooch off women and use them for sex, money, etc. I can relate to the song because most of my ex boyfriends were a–holes and used me too for money and sex.

  4. Atine Herbert says:

    Jam is a hard beat banger! though lyrically hard-stanc-ing on broke dudes.

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