“Aaliyah” Album Revisited

Aaliyah at her album release signing at FYE Music Store. July 2001. Photo courtesy of

I often think about where triple threat singer, dancer, and actress, Aaliyah would be in 2023 if she were still alive. Even though it’s been twenty one years since her death and final album she is still so relevant. There’s no doubt about it that Aaliyah had a major impact on millennials and her legacy for us ’80’s and ’90’s babies is unforgettable. From her signature sleek and straight hair and swoop, shades, leather outfits, ombre hair, makeup, music videos and Tommy Hilfiger outfits, to her dancing and acting she was a standout and admired star whose influence can even be seen in various Pop and R&B artists today. Everyone from Normani, Tink, Drake, Jeezy, and Chris Brown have sampled her.

Back on July 7, 2001, I was just 10-years-old and excited about Aaliyah’s self-titled third album dropping. I use to watch 106 & Park with hosts Free and AJ on BET faithfully as a young tween and Aaliyah was on the show promoting her album. I also remember MTV had a show called “Diary” where they would go behind-the-scenes with certain artists and I couldn’t wait for Aaliyah’s episode to air.

  • The 106 & Park Aaliyah Interview is available to watch here)
  • The MTV Diary episode is currently available to watch here)

Anyway, I really wanted Aaliyah’s CD, but I remember my mom said that it was “too grown” for me to get. Little did we know it would be her final album and she would pass weeks later in a tragic plane crash in the Bahamas after filming the music video for the sensual single “Rock the Boat.”

The inside of Aaliyah’s self-titled album.

I remember MTV News and the radio announced that the singer passed and I just couldn’t believe it. I was so hurt about the death of someone I had never even met. My Dad eventually purchased the CD for me and said it was a classic and would be a collectible and he was right. It took years, but Aaliyah’s musical catalog is now available on streaming sites. I’m not sure of the all the legalities or exact reasons why Blackground Records and Aaliyah’s Estate have issues when it comes to royalties etc., but at least younger and older generations can now listen and have access to her music.

My Aaliyah CD- Collection
My “Aaliyah” vinyl + album cover

I was re-listening to Aaliyah’s self-titled album through my 2023 adult ears and it just resonated and hit different! There are so many tracks in her musical catalog that could’ve been singles and sound like they came out recently instead of years ago. The self-titled genre bending album combined, Rock on tracks like “I Can Be” and “What If”, Flamenco on songs like “Read Between The Lines”, Pop, R&B, and Hip-Hop, with lead singles “We Need a Resolution” and “More Than A Woman”, and spoke of a young woman in her early 20’s singing about pleasure “Rock The Boat”, pain and abuse “Never No More” and “I Refuse”, relationships and life lessons and love on “Those Were The Days”, “Extra Smooth”, “U Got Nerve”, “I Care 4 U”and “Try Again”. That album template is now the norm, but was ground-breaking for a 20-something young woman in 2001 to combine different moods and genres. One line that always stuck out to me was the lyric “Speak your heart don’t bite your tongue. Don’t get it twisted. Don’t misuse it.”- Aaliyah “We Need a Resolution” feat. Timbaland. I feel like every track and lyric had a purpose or mood that was fitting.

One underrated track in my opinion was the electronic and futuristic sounding “LOOSE RAP”, which is the second track on Aaliyah’s self-titled album. Produced by Key Beats and written by the late Stephen “Static Major” Garrett, who also penned other songs in Aaliyah’s musical catalog, is a fusion of experimental synthesized beats, ad-libs, and echoes. “We got something for all the fools it ain’t just rhythm and blues.” Aaliyah declared that her musical sound and image were not just limited to an R&B music box that speaks of her unique sound, image, and artistry.

Back in 2001, Aaliyah was not only singing and dancing, but she started to branch out into different musical genres on her third album and acted in films such as “Queen of the Damned” and “Romeo Must Die.” Aaliyah and Static Major may have passed on, but their presence left a mark and the duo sure didn’t lose our attention in loose rap. Throughout the song Static Major and Aaliyah declare their annoyance, confidence, and competitive nature in various aspects of life, love, and the music and entertainment industry.

Back of the “Aaliyah” vinyl record

In the introduction, Aaliyah’s voice echoes “I’m sick and tired of the loose rap” while Static Major states, ”For the ’01 I know you can come better come better than that so you can kill all your loose rap.” On the Aaliyah: Behind the Scenes segment on the posthumous album and DVD “I Care 4 U” Aaliyah said that her name is Arabic “meaning the highest most exalted one.. the best and I really wanted that name to carry the project.” From the origins of her name to the album’s title, and the third verse on “loose rap”: ”If you just quit trying to compete, yeah, No telling what you could be, might even be doper than me…I doubt it.” Aaliyah addresses her adversaries and exudes a confidence and self-assuredness, talent, and an incomparable uniqueness to the point where her influence and impact are still present in music and fashion decades later.

Additionally, on the posthumous album and DVD “I Care 4 U” there is an “Aaliyah: Behind the Scenes” segment where Aaliyah gives her opinion on certain tracks off her third album. In regards to this particular song she stated, “I love it so much because if you listen to it this is how I listen to it how I take this song it tells three different stories and it’s just really about people come up to you with a whole lotta smack and weak rap and it’s like I don’t wanna hear any of your loose rap.” The first verse whether it be a guy or girl being a little bit jealous of you and you saying I know what you talk smack behind my back but I don’t care because I know you’re just speaking “loose rap.” The second verse is about a guy coming to me kickin’ game tryna be my guy and I’m like your game is a lil’ weak, but I might give you a chance even though you’re kicking loose rap, and the third verse speaks about my crew, Tim and everybody all of us and the music we make our creativity and people being a little bit jealous of that and really trying not to feel it but it’s okay because everything you say is just loose rap so it tells 3 different stories and I think it’s really just hot.” The song is one of those tracks that isn’t wrapped up in yesteryear. Twenty-one years later this song and the rest of the album still sounds current and wrapped and layered with synths that can ride the waves of time.

Me in my Aaliyah T-Shirt I got off Etsy.

Aaliyah|One In A Million

My Aaliyah CD collection.

I often wonder what singer-actress, Aaliyah, would be doing if she was still here. Can you all believe that it has been almost 20 years since her untimely death? The twenty-two-year-old died in a plane crash in August of 2001 after filming a music video in the Bahamas for the song, “Rock the Boat”, off of her self-titled third album. Growing up in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Aaliyah was one of my favorites. Plus her birthday is the day after mine. Shout out to all the Capricorns!  Anywhoo, there’s no doubt about it that Aaliyah had an impact on millennials and her legacy for us ’80’s and ’90’s babies is unforgettable.  From her signature sleek and straight hair and swoop, shades, makeup, and Tommy Hilfiger outfits, to her dancing and acting she was a standout and admired star whose influence can even be seen in various pop and r&b artists today. Aaliyah’s influence on this current generation is undeniable. Everybody from Normani and Tink to Drake and Jeezy have sampled her.

The sole focus of Aaliyah’s legacy shouldn’t be limited to her being an  underage victim of R.Kelly’s because she was so much more than that. Aaliyah was a trailblazing star from her tomboy chic fashion style, to her futuristic sounding music produced by Timbaland, Missy Elliott, and Static Major, and her songs on 90’s movie soundtracks such as the animated film “Anastasia” and the comedy “Dr. Dolittle” to her budding acting career in films “Romeo Must Die” and “Queen of the Damned.” Aaliyah was on the rise.

A picture from the “One In A Million” album/CD sleeve/liner notes.

However, there is a generation that isn’t as familiar with her music because it isn’t easily available. I feel like not having her music easily available is kind of erasing her musical legacy for future generations to listen to or sample. I still happen to have my old Aaliyah CD’s and imported the tracks to my music library on my computer. Aaliyah’s music is currently only available on physical CD, but CD’s are pretty much antiques in 2021 because most people download music from a cloud or streaming service. There have been rumors for years about all her music being in the works to be released for streaming on digital platforms. **UPDATE: Blackground Records is scheduled to release more of her discography on SPOTIFY starting August 20, 2021! I have mixed feelings. As an Aaliyah fan I’m glad the new generation will be able to finally listen to her music, but still find it messed up how Aaliyah, JoJo, Toni Braxton and other Blackground Records artists got treated and aren’t making money off their art being on streaming sites. The record industry and record labels are at times shady! Also, I wonder if someone or a media outlet has ever reached out Aaliyah’s mother or brother and asked them how they feel about her legacy or something, but maybe her family has declined. Who knows.

The self-titled “Aaliyah” CD/album from 2001.
I purchased the t-shirt of Aaliyah on VIBE Magazine from Etsy.

 I liked the self-titled album and the track “Loose Rap” as well as “All I Need” off the posthumous compilation album “I Care 4 U.” Those happen to be underrated favorites of mine. As well as covers of The Isley Brothers songs like “At Your Best (You Are Love)” and “Choosey Lover.” There are so many tracks in her musical catalog that could’ve been singles and sound like they came out in 2021 instead of years ago. I still remember the Summer of 2001 thinking I was so “cool” being 10-years-old watching “106 & Park” with hosts Free and A.J. where Aaliyah promoted her last album. I was so sad when I learned she passed only days later. She accomplished so much in a short time. She really was “One in a Million.” So much talent gone too soon. May her legacy live on!


Missy Elliott

Check out my Missy Elliott playlist available on Apple Music (click here) under “asiamberjamz” and below on Spotify.

Missy Elliott is the recipient of the 2019 MTV Video Music Award’s Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. Missy is so talented and deserving of the award. She’s produced and written for so many people! I can’t wait to see her performance and other shenanigans that go on tonight at the 2019 Video Music Awards.

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