The early 90’s midway through the new millennium was all about songstress Aaliyah. From the swooped left side bang to her tomboyish wear (baggy pants and midriff tee), the Brooklyn-bred/Detroit-raised petite figure danced and sang her way into our hearts. I was only four years old when I first heard Aaliyah’s single “Age Ain’t Nothin’ But A Number” and I am certain that at the time I couldn’t fully grasp exactly what she was talking about! But her voice replayed constantly in my head, and at that moment, she was officially my favorite singer. As her career grew, I grew, and as her lyrics matured, I fantasized more about love. When I was supposed to be playing in a sandbox somewhere, I was listening to “4 Page Letter”, “I Care 4 U”, and “One In A Million” —all are which I consider to be R&B classics. Reminiscing about this now, I believe Aaliyah’s music was my first lesson in love: having the best of something that at any moment, can easily be taken away.
Aaliyah was said to have been a destined entertainer and I absolutely agree. Coming from a musically-inclined background with her mother Diane Haughton as a singer, and her uncle Barry Hankerson as an entertainment lawyer, it’s no surprise that at an early age Aaliyah was enrolled into vocal lessons. Aaliyah took some time off from singing after her performance in the Star Search spotlight in 1983 and attended Detroit’s Performing Arts High School. However, in no time, Aaliyah got herself back into the entertainment business as a vocalist after her uncle Hankerson signed a distribution deal with Jive Records, then signing Aaliyah to his Blackground Records label. It was during this time she met R&B artist R. Kelly who was the song writer and producer of her debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number, released in 1994. He also was the source of her first and lasting controversy, when they were rumored to have wed when she was still a minor, which Aaliyah reportedly annulled shortly thereafter. 1996 was the year she became a part of Atlantic Records and worked with the ultimate hitmakers Timbaland and Missy Elliott for her sophomore album One In A Million. That year Aaliyah was also nominated for an Academy Award on her cover of “Journey To The Past” for the animated movie Anastasia. She also had the famous single “Are You That Somebody” for the film Doctor Dolittle which is still one of my favorite music videos today.
During the early 2000’s, Aaliyah got her first major role alongside Jet Li in the movie Romeo Must Die. The single for the movie “Try Again” won her MTV’s Best Female Video and Best Video From A Film award. But the “Back In One Piece” music video was my shit growing up because, for one, I saw a tougher side of the delicate charmer Aaliyah was always portrayed to be, and two, DMX was the featured artist!! Aaliyah was later offered a role in the vampire flick Queen of The Damned and she also released her third album Aaliyah.
Aaliyah was just 22-years-old when she died in a plane accident leaving the Bahamas. And although her life was short-lived, her legacy as a triple-threat remains. The three music videos completed from this album (“We Need A Resolution, “Rock The Boat, and “More Than A Woman“) became symbols of Aaliyah’s iconic stature and the collections of her energy and voice will live on forever. Many artists today have tried imitating but there is only one L-I-Y-A-H. Even with teary eyes I can say we still love and miss you.
Click here for free download- “One In A Million” by Aaliyah
Click here for free download- “Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number” by Aaliyah
Click here for free download- “4 Page Letter” by Aaliyah
Click here for free download- “We Need A Resolution” by Aaliyah
Click here for free download- “Miss You” remix by Aaliyah ft Jay-Z
- The Music Link List: 08.25.2010
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