Aaliyah's Catalog Finally Hits Streaming Services: 10 Essential Songs

variety.com
5 min read
fairly easy
Aaliyah — who died in a plane crash nearly 20 years ago, on August 25, 2001 — was one of the most popular and influential young R&B singers of her era. A former R. Kelly protégé who was briefly married to him at the age of 15 in a quickly annulled ceremony (a situation that […]
Aaliyah — who died in a plane crash nearly 20 years ago, on August 25, 2001 — was one of the most popular and influential young R&B singers of her era. A former R. Kelly protégé who was briefly married to him at the age of 15 in a quickly annulled ceremony (a situation that is playing out in a Brooklyn courtroom this week), the singer released just three albums before her death at the age of just 22. Her sleek, street-savvy image and innovative, Timbaland and Missy Elliott-helmed hits helped pave the way for countless single-named R&B singers who followed — not least Rihanna. Yet since the advent of legal streaming services in the early '00s, only her R. Kelly-helmed 1994 debut, "Age Ain't Nothing But a Number," and a handful of singles have been legally available on those platforms, due to longstanding differences between her estate and her former label, Blackground Entertainment, which is run by her uncle, former R. Kelly manager Barry Hankerson.

She was possibly the most popular and prominent artist — both of the long-unavailable albums are certified double platinum — to have their most commercially successful music unavailable to stream legally.

While differences between the estate and Hankerson remain, he has apparently gotten legal clearance to post re-release the albums both physically and on streaming services, and the first one — 1996's "One in a Million," the first in her extensive collaborations with producer-songwriters Timbaland and Missy Elliott — was posted late Thursday. Her 2001 "Aaliyah" album is due September 10, and both the "Ultimate Aaliyah" greatest-hits compilation and a collection of singles and previously unreleased material called "I Care 4 U" are due on October 8.

Still unreleased is a posthumous collection, executive produced by Drake and featuring cameos from him, Kanye West, Lil Wayne and others, that Hankerson has been trying to release for nearly a decade. One song emerged, but Drake reportedly distanced himself from the project…
Alex Gonzalez
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