10 YEARS LATER...
THE LOSS OF AALIYAH
Yes, I must confess... Even I, Pharquest, am a prestigious fan of the late Aaliyah. I was indulged in her sound at the age of 5. Didn't recognize her presence until 1998 - When she released one of her biggest hits: Are You That Somebody?
Released as a soundtrack promo for the book-inspired flick, "Dr. Dolittle", Eddie Murphy - the lead star in the film is projected on the video with Aaliyah and her dancers in the foreground. Recorded in a cave, the same cave as the infamous 1960's series "Batman".
This was one of the first singles I can remember of her from my childhood, and the song was addictive. No doubt, Aaliyah was a rising star who fell to her unfortunate and sudden fall - but I recall her massive amounts of radio-play from state-to-state in the late '90s.
Which leads me to her most recognizable hit - "Try Again".
Another soundtrack single released for the action/drama motion picture "Romeo Must Die" in 1999, this was also Aaliyah's debut in acting. Which drew a wider audience, increasing her popularity in the entertainment industry. 1999 was the year everyone noticed the true potential of this intermediately growing gem: not just a singer, but an actress too.
This made me grow even more of a fan. Seeing her blow up left and right that year made me intrigued to know what she was going to do next, as I assume everyone else was. One major company in particular: MTV. Aaliyah won a 2000 VMA award for "Best Video For A Film", hosted MTV's TRL, Received her own "STRIPPED" and "MTV DIARY" episode, and hosted MTV's "ICONS". Channels like MTV & BET were starting to realize that this woman was serious about success.
But enough of that... I'm not here to post her biography, I'm just here to show some recognition (as a fan), and appreciation for good, classic music. Aaliyah is the reason why I got so into Blackground's supreme "Supafriendz"; Missy Elliott, Timbaland, Nicole Wray, Shaunta, Ginuwine, Playa (R.I.P. Static), and everyone else that was affiliated. They, as well as Aaliyah, were a big part of the detour of Hip-Hop and R&B and are responsible for the harmonic, alienated sound that was created in the mid-to-late '90s.
You can't mention Aaliyah without mentioning Timbaland. If they weren't best friends, one thing is for sure - their eccentric musical elements were! Two sounds combined of completely different qualities, put together, made MAGIC. Aaliyah's smooth, soft, and jazz-inspired voice intertwined with Tim's electric, moogy sounds: crickets, baby-coos, pitched giggles, and flanger-filtered guitars created a sound that a human being would've never imagined possible.
I spoke to Missy only once, on Twitter, asking her about what inspired them to STAND-OUT from what everyone else was doing in the '90s. Missy told me whenever people went left, she went right. She wanted to make sure she was different and Timbaland did as well. He mentioned clocking out of 15-HOUR SHIFTS in the studios. Not leaving until the dawn of day. He also made an input of rendering his beats to his friends and being made-fun of his sound. Saying it sounded like a record skipping. But who would've guessed that at the rise of 1996, his sound would be admired by millions. In the words of Missy Elliott - "he turned Hip-Hop upside down and inside-out".
If you haven't guessed it by now, Blackground has had a major influence in my taste of music. Just as I was becoming engraved into cliques like: Bad Boy, Organized Noize, and Roc-A-Fella? Blackground comes out and switches it up to another exponent.
Aaliyah was one of very few entertainers that were shy, but had an outspoken discography. Her music bellowed confidence, style, and mystery that had you begging to know MORE about this woman. This is to pay tribute... that regardless of the lifespan: time can never dissolve the quality of your music, The essence of your presence, and the warmth of your soul. 10 years later, the world still spins with grief.
There's a void in R&B, but your memory remains unaltered.
Rest In Peace
1979 - 2001
We must not forget the 7 other crew members who lost their lives that morning on the flight boarding from The Bahamas to Florida: Douglas Krats, Eric Foreman, Gina Smith, Chris Maldonado, Keith Wallace, Scott Gallin, and Anthony Dodd - Aaliyah's bodyguard who passed away in the hospital the day after.