Press Play: The Princess of R&B


Posted By: Matt Hollidaye

Who would’ve thought that, fifteen years ago today, one of the all-time greats in the R&B genre would be taken away from us so soon? Think about what would have became of her if she were still alive today. Would some of these artists that are out now even exist? Who would she have collaborated with? What would her style be?

So many unanswered questions, but that’s not the point…

I first heard Aaliyah back in 1995 on the radio. It was (what turned out to be) a cover version of “(At Your Best) You Are Love”, originally done by the Isley Brothers way back when (Frank Ocean did a cover version as well, if you care to check it out). At first, I thought, “Wow. Whomever did this, with a voice like that, they’re really good”….and then I asked around. I did more research. I sought out if she had any other singles and it turns out, not only did she have more singles, SHE HAD CLASSICS!

(I don’t say that often about artists today, but man…..she had the hits)

“Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number” is on my Top 50 list of albums you have to hear before you die. You can’t just hear it, you gotta stand back and admire the range she had on that album, her debut album nonetheless. Production and collaboration from R. Kelly, Missy Elliott, Timbaland, Ginuwine….I mean, the list goes on and on and there’s not a single song on that album that you would skip over. Every single song on that album was pure gold and universally, NO ONE could disagree with that.

“More Than A Woman” came out some years later and blew expectations out the water. But in particular, there’s one song on there that really tripped me out, that really caught my attention (and annoyed me at the same time because, what are 8-year-old girls doing singing this song?)

“If Your Girl Only Knew”….

A lot of dudes back then got in some serious trouble when that song came out (a lot of dudes still are getting in trouble with that song fifteen years later).

We don’t give Aaliyah enough credit and that’s unfair to me because she really was the influence to nearly ALL OF R&B you hear and see today. Think of this list; you can disagree with me all you want on this, but if you were to sit and actually watch and compare, there wouldn’t be a Beyoncé, a Keri Hilson, a Tinashe, a Ciara, Kelly Rowland….the list goes on and on, but THE BLUEPRINT TO HOW THEIR STYLE CAME ABOUT was laid out by none other than the Detroit native herself, and truthfully, I’d be ashamed to even associate with you if you disagreed or if you think anyone out currently is better (there isn’t, even in the afterlife there isn’t).

The hard part is realizing that it’s been fifteen years since her last single dropped and she passed away right after taping the video for “Rock the Boat”. But those fifteen years seem like forever, especially when it’s someone so young and so talented as she were. For that reason alone, if you’re not doing anything, take some time and appreciate everything that is Aaliyah, from her very first single to posthumous appearances (ignore what Lifetime did with that movie, they deserve to get sued). Really dig deep and take some time to listen to her body of work. I guarantee you that you will not be disappointed in what you hear

She may be gone from us, but it’s true when they say music come and go, but legends live on. And I couldn’t agree any more with that statement.


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