A Tribute to Aaliyah: R&B’s Everlasting Princess

August 25, 2011 § 1 Comment

Today marks the 10th anniversary of Aaliyah’s untimely death. She left us at the tender age of 22 in 2001, yet her influence still lives on. I find it appropriate to remember Aaliyah’s musical legacy because she helped to change the face of R&B. She also opened my eyes to a new sound of music, hence becoming someone who I truly admired.

Aaliyah’s passing was a tough time for myself and her fans, her family, her friends, and the world. Right now R&B music needs revival, and I know if Aaliyah was still here she would’ve blessed us with something spectacular. But this is not the case. So all we can do is play her records till they break, watch her movies until our eyes glaze, and soak in her genuine beauty every chance we get. I happily present to you my personal tribute to Aaliyah, a musician and person that I will always love.

The First Time I Discovered Aaliyah

The first time I saw, or even heard of, Aaliyah was when I was around 8 years old. I was at a family member’s house and the MTV channel was on. I remember hearing this “BOOM, BOOM! Bum-bum-bum…bum-bum!!, and I looked at the television to see what kind of song was playing. I looked up to see this gorgeous person dancing up a storm! I remember her looking so ghetto fabulous (in the best possible way) and just incredible! I watched that video over and over and over again just to perfect the smooth dance moves. But of course, no one could move like Aaliyah. After I saw that video, I was instantly hooked on Aaliyah!

“Sometimes I’m goody-goody, right now I’m naughty-naughty…”

My Favorite Aaliyah Video

I think I’m so attracted to “One In A Million” because even though it’s an R&B love song, the video itself is sleek, seductive, and oozes of street-cool. It showcased Aaliyah’s natural beauty, as well as that signature hair bang that every girl tried to mimic. The best part of the video (for me at least) was the scene close to the end, where she is on that pedestal in a white-hot motorcycle suit. In this scene, Aaliyah shows off a natural-born confidence that wouldn’t fit any other 17 year-old. But it felt right on Aaliyah. It wasn’t too overt or tacky, it was simply perfect.

The Most Over-Played Aaliyah Album in My Itunes

I’ve already discussed why I love this album, but why not talk about it again? Aaliyah, released in 2001, was the late singer’s 3rd and final album. To me, it was her best. I say this because the album is a plethora of the best sounds from all different genres fused together to make a classic and timeless record. I’ve never experienced an album that took so many risks, whether it be a soulful sample, a gritty bass line, or a screeching electric guitar.

I’m glad I received Aaliyah as a gift, because it showed me how music is supposed to evolve. Every track on the record shows a different side to the artist, essentially telling her story through lyricism. The songs are exposed, raw, and vulnerable, which were all reflected in Aaliyah’s delicate yet cool voice. Aaliyah is just flawless, period.

My Top 10 Aaliyah Songs

10. More Than A Woman (2002)

The sole factor that drew me into this song was Aaliyah’s clear and crisp vocals; I was not used to hearing her sound so strong! The production is genre-less, which I love as well. It made your body groove and made your soul smile.

9. Hot Like Fire (Remix) (1997)

I wasn’t a fan of the slower original version, but I definitely got hooked onto this Timbaland remix. The blend of Aaliyah’s sultry “No, no, no, no” sample and Timbaland’s banging production was incredible! The lyrics are simple yet effective; Aaliyah knew what she was doing when it came to men!

8. U Got Nerve (2001)

I love this song because Aaliyah sounds so fed up & pissed; the way she gave off emotions through her vocals was astounding. Her gritty and clipped lyrics reflect the beat of the song, which sounds like daggers jutting in your ears. Aaliyah was “tired of all the games”, and she made sure you knew of it!

7. I Don’t Wanna (2000)

Every time I hear this song on the radio, my eyes well up & I could never explain why. I believe this song always resonated with me because, being the (hidden) overly emotional person I am,  I constantly thought of love and relationships. Even at the young age of 10 or 11, I felt connected to this song in some way. From the teardrop-like beat to Aaliyah’s tender voice, the track showcased her unique & timeless artistry.

6. 4 Page Letter (1997)

You can’t get more classic 90’s R&B with this track, which is why I put it on this list. Every girl I knew could sing this song word for word without hesitation, but we were all looking for “love” (or what we thought love was at the time). I don’t know what else to say; you all know why this song is so damn good!

5. What If (2001)

Who knew Aaliyah had a love for Industrial/Metal rock? The ending track to Aaliyah, blew me away because it was such an unexpected yet relevant sound. The first time I heard that guitar wail, my eyes opened wide and I pressed the “rewind” button to no end! This was my first introduction to a Rock sound, & I’m happy to say that I heard it from Aaliyah. Hearing this track probably triggered my love for Rock music today.

4. I Care For You (2002)

One cannot listen to this song without feeling some sort of pain, guilt, or love. The production is not from this time, yet it sounds so right. This song was released posthumously, which heightens the track’s already-haunting sound. But it is a sound that we’ve grown to admire from the singer, alongside those stunning vocals.

3. I Can Be (2001)

Don’t let the slow intro fool you, this song is very bad-ass! The dark undertones of the electric guitar is simply ridiculous and Aaliyah never sounded so cool since “Age Ain’t Nothin But A Number”. Aaliyah sings from a somewhat taboo perspective: the “side chick”. But they way she sings it makes it seem so appealing and realistic.

2. Loose Rap (2001)

I’ve never heard a track sound so smooth, street, or grimy, & I love this song because of that. It speaks about people talking behind your back or trying to spit game, yet you don’t pay it any mind because you know it’s “loose rap”. That storyline of the song makes it relatable to everyone, which I believe Aaliyah excelled at with her music. Aaliyah sounds so confident and sure of herself, which is something I’ve always admired about her.

1. If Your Girl Only Knew (1996)

The amount of times I listen to this song in a week is incredibly high; I simply CANNOT get enough of this song ever since I heard it back in the 90’s. The beat is infectious and captures that tomboy vibe that Aaliyah embodied so well. It is just so fly; I don’t know what other words I use to explain the vibe I get when listening to it! Again, her confidence at such a young age was so powerful. I know I’m not the only one who Diddy Bops to this song as soon as the beat drops!

R.I.P Aaliyah Dana Haughton (January 16, 1979 – August 25, 2001)


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