Remembering Aaliyah

Posted August 25, 2011 by J Matthew Cobb in News

Ten years since her tragic passing, the legacy of Aaliyah remains fresh on the hearts of her generation

On Thursday, August 25, 2011, music fans who were once addicted to Timbaland and Missy Elliot‘s groundbreaking hip-hop-meets-urban R&B style in the late-’90’s and early 2000’s are quite invigorated and passionated over Aaliyah as the tenth anniversary of the young R&B princess’s death arrives.

In just a short period of time, seven years to be exact, Aaliyah – the goddaughter of Motown legend Gladys Knight – championed the R&B charts with her beauty, smart sense of fashion, commanding stage choreography and her glowing sense of charm embedded beneath her soft falsetto.

Her life was cut short at the age of 22 when a twin-engine plane crash claimed her life, along with eight other passengers while in transit from the Bahamas to Florida. But her repertoire of hits and versatile list of career choices during her short time were far from sub-standard in the eyes of the average R&B singers.

After being discovered by R. Kelly, who later served as her musical mentor in her early years, Aaliyah’s career picked up instantly with her debut LP Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number. He was briefly married to her, but was quickly quenched due to her being underage. She was forced to end her contract with Jive and moved to Atlantic to record throughout the remaining of her life. The label switch didn’t stop her process as childhood friend Tim “Timbaland” Mosley and Missy Elliot culled out highly-acclaimed albums One In A Millionand her self-titled 2001 album. Both albums shot up the pop charts and went platinum on the backs of strong singles like “If Your Girl Only Knew,” “4 Page Letter,” “Hot Like Fire,” “We Need A Resolution” and “Rock The Boat.”

At this time, her career expanded to include movie roles. She starred alongside Jackie Chan in Romeo Must Die, while also using her musical skills on the film’s companion soundtrack with the No. 1 pop hit “Try Again” and the Top 40 R&B hit “Come Back In One Piece.”

Her gift crossed gender lines, usually matched well with brasher street beats and hip-hop rap kings like DMX, Junior M.A.F.I.A. Nas and fellow producer Timbaland. She also was able to reach back to more mature R&B, paying respects to the ol’ skool of Marvin Gaye (“Got To Give It Up”) and the Isleys Brothers on ballad remakes of “At Your Best (You Are Love)” and “Choosey Lover.” At the core, Aaliyah captivated the interests of her age group, but never feared to play with the grooves found on her mom-and-pop’s records.

On the cusp of the 10-year anniversary of Aaliyah’s death, artists and fans alike reflect on her achievements and her cultural impact. DMX, who worked with Aaliyah on “Back In One Piece,” spoke with Billboard and continued to sing his praises of the late singer. “Half these chicks that are doing it right now wouldn’t be doing it. Aaliyah would be on top,” DMX says. “As far as I’m concerned she’s still on top.” Music mogul Damon Dash, Aaliyah’s boyfriend at the time of her death, also chimed in on the Aaliyah accolades. “She was one of the best people I ever met. Even with the pain I felt, I would do it all over again.”

R&B divas Keyisha Cole, Monica, Ciara and Estele also acknowledged Aaliyah’s influence on their own work:

“Her purity of voice was incredible. She didn’t try too hard or do any tricks. That’s something I liked about her.When she was singing, she let it fall out of her.”

“She was true to who she was and she didn’t seem to care about it. The core of her art to me is heavily, heavily urban based. When an artist’s music is so urban based, sometimes people like to take risks with artists like that. When you think about it, it really is pop, it really is cultural and that’s the one thing that I thought was cool about her music.”

Keyisha Cole:
“She connected before reality TV, before any of that happened in our era. It was something about her that made you connect to her. She seemed like she had a beautiful soul.”

“She loved to laugh. Jokes with her and Missy [Elliott] were beyond what people imagine. Missy is definitely the ultimate jokester. I’ve never seen her in the type of turmoil and pain that she was in after Aaliyah passed because there’s no replacing the type of love and friendship that her and Missy had. It was the type of closeness where even when I see Missy today I always feel like something is missing from her and that is definitely Aaliyah.”

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine

One Comment


    I love that song.I was one of the biggest Aaliyah fans.

Leave a Response


Please support HIFI Magazine
By clicking any of these buttons you help our site to get better