In two weeks it will be exactly 20 years since we have lost the irreplaceable hip hop/pop culture icon Aaliyah. For Aaliyah super-fans everywhere, including myself, each August since 2001 has been a bit mournful, reminding us that it is yet another year without Baby Girl.
Ever since that fateful day on August 25, 2001, just five months shy of Aaliyah’s 23rd birthday, the music world has been left with a major gap. The avant-garde R&B/pop star had made such a mark on the entertainment industry by her untimely death that her contributions to pop culture are unable to be forgotten.
Music artists Kehlani, Ciara, Tinashe, Normani and H.E.R are just a few of today’s entertainers that have derived inspiration from Aaliyah, emulating her music style and/or aesthetic. As the 20th anniversary of Aaliyah’s passing is right around the corner, so is the release of Baby Girl’s classic album “One In A Million” to Spotify.
Over the past few years Aaliyah’s fans have been petitioning Aaliyah’s estate and her record label Blackground Records to release her catalogue to music streaming platforms. Earlier this month, on August 4, an enigmatic Instagram page revealed that Aaliyah’s music would soon be released to music platforms. Soon after that mysterious announcement, music distribution company Empire confirmed the presumed rumor.
“The firm has signed a partnership with the legendary Blackground Records, which is now known as Blackground Records 2.0, to release the brand’s entire catalog of beloved titles, which features Aaliyah and many other well-known artists,” according to Forbes. This means that fans finally will be able to listen to all of Aaliyah’s mega-hits like “Try Again,” “One In A Million,” and “Rock The Boat” within a matter of months.
This has been a long time coming, and Barry Hankerson, Co-Founder of what is now Blackground Records 2.0 and Aaliyah’s uncle, finally was able to make it happen.
“It has been a long time since the fans could enjoy Aaliyah and other artists on our catalogue, and there has been a lot of changes in the music business since we took the music off the market,” Hankerson told Billboard. “We wanted to be sure to be with the right people, the right executives, and to give ourselves the right time to do the different things. So when you add all that up, it was a couple of years before we could even really consider putting the music out.”
After Aaliyah’s 1996 album “One In A Million” drops on Spotify on August 20, her self-titled EP Aaliyah and The Romeo Must Die soundtrack will make it to Spotify in September. Aaliyah’s Spotify rollout will conclude in October, ending with the release of Aaliyah’s last album “I Care 4 U” and Aaliyah’s compilation album “Ultimate Aaliyah.” And oh, if ya didn’t know, Baby Girl was the leading lady in the Y2K action film “Romeo Most Die, ” in addition to making bops for the soundtrack.
Although music fans around the globe are overjoyed, Aaliyah’s family doesn’t share the same sentiments. Just a week ago Aaliyah’s estate posted a formal statement about the legacy of Aaliyah’s music on Instagram, publicly stating their discomfort with it.
“Protecting Aaliyah’s legacy is, and will always be, our focus. For 20 years we have battled behind the scenes, enduring shadowy tactics of deception with unauthorized projects targeted to tarnish. We have always been confused as to why there is such a tenacity in causing more pain alongside what we already have to cope with for the rest of our lives.
Now, in this 20th year, this unscrupulous endeavor to release Aaliyah’s music without any transparency or full accounting to the estate compels our hearts to express a word – forgiveness. Although we will continue to defend ourselves and her legacy lawfully and justly, we want to preempt the inevitable attacks on our character by all the individuals who have emerged from the shadows to leech off of Aaliyah’s life’s work.
Ultimately, we desire closure and a modicum of peace so we can facilitate the growth of the Aaliyah Memorial Fund and other creative projects that embody Aaliyah’s true essence, which is to inspire strength and positivity for people of all creeds, races and cultures around the world.
The Estate of Aaliyah Haughton,” said Aaliyah’s estate in the public statement.