This past Saturday night I was in NYC seeing a bunch of friends at the International Car Show and then saw another friend for a movie later on in the evening. As I was in between what I was doing, I put my iPod on shuffle and the first song that came on was Aaliyah’s “We Need A Resolution”. I haven’t heard that song in such a long time that immediately I was entranced. I forgot not only how young she was when she passed (22) but truly what a gifted artist this girl was and how she really never had her chance to shine the way she was supposed to. I have decided to do somewhat of a tribute article to her, and what her music has meant to me and my life even though she has been gone now for ten years.
Aaliyah came into the music scene at age 12 when she was signed to Blackground Records, a sector of Jive Records. Two years later, she released her debut album “Age Aint Nothin But A Number”, which contained two chart topping hits- “At Your Best” and “Back & Forth”. This was around the time when other teen R&B stars started to emerge like Brandy & Monica. R. Kelly at the time became her mentor and was a pivotal part of her success. Two years later she ditched Jive Records and signed with Atlantic Records to produce her sophomore album “One In A Million”. This album was a lot more mature in sound and in vocals, as featured on the title track (my personal favorite), and others such as “If Your Girl Only Knew” and “4 Page Letter”. Aaliyah was coming into her own as an artist and was really developing her sound while garnering millions of fans in the process.
In between “One In A Million” and her next album, Aaliyah stayed busy in the recording studio. She sang “Journey To The Past” from the movie “Anastacia”, which earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song in 1998. She also performed that song at the awards, making her the youngest artist ever to perform at the ceremony. She also released “Are You That Somebody” from the “Dr. Doolittle” Soundtrack, which became a huge hit in airplay on both top 40 and R&B stations.
She released her eponymous album, “Aaliyah” in 2001, with the first single “We Need A Resolution” as a kickstart to the release. Before that came out, she starred in her first major motion picture, “Romeo Must Die”, which drew rave reviews and did well at the box office. Keeping in tradition with doing songs on soundtracks, she did one for the movie called “Try Again” which topped the Billboard Hot 100 and earned her Best Female Video at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards. Tragically, after shooting the video for “Rock The Boat” she was killed in a plane crash on August 25th, 2001 with several others including the pilot of the plane who was found to be intoxicated and had several drugs in him. Another blame for the death was the excessive amounts of luggage that was put on the plane.
After her passing, her album shot from number 19 the week before to number 1. As nice as that was, I felt in a way it was fake because if you REALLY were a fan of hers you would’ve bought it when it came out. It had been out for a little while now. The video for “Rock The Boat” was still released as was the video for “More Than A Woman” which she filmed prior to “Rock The Boat”. Two songs from the album were also released posthumulously, “I Care 4 U” and “Miss You”. She was only 22 years old when she passed.
There are many reasons why I loved Aaliyah and why I continue to do so. She came out in a time where artists were real and not carbon-copied, auto-tuned fake BS that was have today. She had an authentic voice, was beautiful, and had a great spirit and energy around her. Every song she made or released had a message in it, and I was really enjoying watching her rise. I can only imagine how different the industry would be if she was still around today. It frustrates me that artists like her die so young over something that could’ve been taken care of, and it breaks my heart everytime I see the video for “Rock The Boat”, because I always feel like at the end of it was when her life was taken. We need more talent like her today. If we did I think the music industry would be a lot better and taken more seriously than it really truly is.