Chilli Had ‘Chemistry’ with Usher and Reveals How They Were Finally Able to ‘Get Over’ One Another (Exclusive)

The TLC singer says ending her years-long on-and-off relationship with the R&B star helped prepare her for love and stability with Matthew Lawrence

Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas couldn’t be happier in life and in love these days.

“I have never experienced anything like this,” she tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue, opening up about her happy life now with boyfriend Matthew Lawrence, 43, ahead of the premiere of Lifetime’s new documentary TLC Forever.

Rozanda "Chilli" Thomas with boyfriend Usher arriving at the Stella McCartney store opening party on 14th Street in New York City. September 20, 2002.

Chilli and Usher in 2002. PHOTO: EVAN AGOSTINI/IMAGEDIRECT

It is the first high-profile relationship the singer, 52, has had since famously dating Usher from 2001-2004. “We definitely had some chemistry,” she says, when asked about her time with the R&B star. “But working chemistry does not mean it works in your personal life. If we were working, it was great. But outside of that, we’re so different.”

chilli-1

Chilli. DAYO X CHILLI

Noting how fans rooted for them as a couple, she says, “It looked great, but in real life … he knew he had to be a certain way with me and he couldn’t.”

While she denies rumors that his hit breakup album Confessions is about her (“I was with him at the studio that whole time”), the couple still wasn’t meant to be, she says due to differing values and trust issues. Still, they remained off and on for years, reconnecting when they weren’t in other relationships. “I love hard,” says Chilli. “I was like, ‘God, why can’t I get over this?’ He couldn’t either.”

Leaning on her Christian faith, she eventually cut off contact for good in 2019 “to focus on myself,” she says. “I even stopped dating. Because before that I thought if I met the right guy during that time that I wasn’t over [Usher] it wouldn’t work. I would never want to straddle the fence.”

Matthew Lawrence (L) and Chilli Thomas attend as Lifetime Celebrates Black Excellence with their Female Creatives and Talent at the +Play Partner House on March 09, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

Matthew Lawrence and Chilli.RANDY SHROPSHIRE/GETTY

When it comes to her ex, “I have no hard feelings,” she tells PEOPLE. It all helped prepare her for Lawrence, the love of her life. “He wants to be the best guy he can be and who God wants him to be,” she says. “God-willing one day we’ll get married.”

For more on Chilli’s TLC journey and life now, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands everywhere Friday. 

TLC Forever airs June 3 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.

Related Posts

Chris Brown Posts Cryptic Instagram Message Seeming to Go at Omarion for Having an Interest in Karrueche Tran

Chris Brown recently posted a cryptic message on Instagram that people believe is aimed at Omarion for saying he wanted to date CB’s ex Karrueche Tran before…

Billboard Names Dr. Dre Greatest Rap Producer of All Time

Towards the year of the 50th hip hop anniversary, Billboard published the list of the 25 most important and influential hip hop producers. Dr. Dre tops their list. The…

Eminem marks 12 years sober with sobriety coin

EMINEM celebrated a significant milestone on Monday. The rapper – whose real name is Marshall Mathers – showcased his sobriety coin as he marked 12 years sober. 5…

Will Smith admits he was terrified on date with Salt-N-Pepa rapper: I thought I was going to be killed

The Men in Black actor opened up on his brief fling Will Smith is no ordinary man to date as one of Hollywood’s most recognizable figures. Back when…

Cardi B loses it and shouts ‘STFU’ at fans during X Chat room amid Offset reunion rumors

Cardi B yelled at fans during X chatroom Cardi B has confirmed that she has not gotten back together with Offset, despite reunion rumors that sprung from a recent…

CARDI B ADDRESSES ‘TOXIC RELATIONSHIP’ WITH BARDI GANG IN DEFIANT ‘PSA’

Cardi B has announced that she’s no longer here for folks who dare to take her “Bardi Gang” to task. Taking to X (formerly Twitter) on Sunday (December…