Aaliyah Dana Houghton traveled down to the Bahamas to shoot the music video for “Rock the Boat,” 19 years ago. Unfortunately, the 22-year-old perished in a plane crash with eight others when heading back to the U.S. from the shoot.
The singer, who had been making headway as an actress, was mourned by fans, collaborators, friends, and family. Her funeral was attended by her then-boyfriend Damon Dash, as well as celebrities like Busta Rhymes, Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs, Lil’ Kim, Jay Z, and Missy Elliott.
Elliott, with mega-producer Timbaland, were the main producers who crafted Aaliyah’s sound after her personal and professional break with R. Kelly, who she briefly married as a teenager. The marriage was annulled, and Elliott and Timbaland took over Aaliyah’s production on One In A Million which became a double-platinum smash in 1997.
At the time, Elliott and Timbaland were new producers but Elliott says Aaliyah trusted them with her career and sound. The one song they were supposed to do on her album turned into a fruitful collaboration that lasted until her death.
“She had an ear and she knew what that music made her feel like,” Elliott told Billboard in 2018. “She was next level to understand that this is some next level (music). This is not just the sound that’s going on right now — this is a new sound that is being created. This whole movement is new,” Elliott said.
Elliott paid tribute to Aaliyah today on her social media accounts.
Today also marked news from Aaliyah’s family who maintains social media accounts in her name. For years, two of Aaliyah’s platinum-selling albums, One In a Million and the self-titled Aaliyah have been blocked from streaming platforms. Her debut, Age Aint Nothing But a Number, produced by Kelly, is online.
Aaliyah’s uncle, Barry Hankerson, who once managed Kelly, controls the master recordings through his Blackground label. For whatever reason, Hankerson has yet to make the music available despite a continuing demand for it. According to Newsweek, in 2017, an Ultimate Aaliyah collection was online via Apple Music for 24 hours, then removed.
But the family announced today that there had been some movement between the estate and Blackground.
“We are excited to announce that communication has commenced between the estate and various record labels about the status of Aaliyah’s music catalog,” it read, promising “more updates to come.”
Aaliyah was survived by her parents and her brother Rashard, who was a constant companion throughout her career ascent.
Aaliyah’s close friend, Kidada Jones, remembered her in a Rolling Stone piece in 2001.
“She matured a lot in the last year,” Jones said. “She really settled into her womanhood. Her parents gave her more freedom, and she took more control of her projects. She fell in love with Damon and that was it. She wanted to have a family, and we talked about how we couldn’t wait to kick back with our babies.”
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