Aaliyah: The Album that Cemented the Late R&B Songstress’ Legacy
Written by Akii Butler on July 18, 2017
Label: Blackground Records
It’s been 16 years since the release of Aaliyah’s third and final studio album before her death. Simply titled “Aaliyah,” the album was her most experimental effort blending together genres such as R&B, Neo- Soul, Pop, dance-pop and even adding in elements of rock and techno. The album was released on July 17th, during the peak period of contemporary R&B. The album has been considered one of the best R&B record of it’s time by many critics.
After 16 years and plenty of changes when it comes to the music scene, one has to wonder how it holds up? Did it fall flat on its face after a couple of years or is it a timeless album that people will continue to enjoy for years to come?
Opening with the lead single penned by Stephen Garrett aka Static Major, and produced by long time collaborator Timbaland, “We Need A Resolution” set the tone for the album. Along with “More Than A Woman,” these tracks oozed with Pop and Hip-hop elements, which made them club ready. Other songs such as “Never No More” and the beautifully written “I Care For You” made sure to give those R&B fans the type of music they know and love from Aaliyah.
While the album’s main focus is R&B, the influence of other genres are definitely present throughout the album. A big fan of the industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails, you can hear the influence they had on her when it comes to the tracks “I Can Be” and “What If,” even if conflicting schedules stopped Trent Reznor from producing a song on the album as she hoped he would.
Fans of the late R&B songstress will be happy to know that the album actually holds up well over time and can be seen as a blueprint for Alternative R&B and many of the R&B singers today. “It’s Whatever” sounds like it would fit perfectly on Solange’s “A Seat At The Table,” and “Rock The Boat” has the Tropical vibe that has been heating up the airwaves for almost two years now.
While the album is not without its flaws (Overproduction causes Aaliyah to be drowned out in some songs) there is no doubt that Aaliyah was off to make a statement with this album. Not only did she make a statement, she created a career defining album that artists look to for inspiration to this very day.
While many critics are quick to say that Aaliyah’s music is timeless, they are definitely not lying. If one were to listen to “Lemonade,” “Anti” and “A Seat At The Table” then turn around and listen to “Aaliyah” one wouldn’t even notice that the album is 16 years old.
It’s sad to think about what could have been if Aaliyah had not got on that plane just hours after filming the music video for “Rock The Boat.” With award shows, and a world tour lined up, Aaliyah was well on her way to being what NME Magazine called “The Queen of Pop.” Despite her untimely death, the album became her most successful effort yet, selling 13 million copies worldwide. While she may not be with us, her legacy still lives on and the legacy of this album is still going strong, despite the ongoing lawsuit that has put it in jeopardy.
Checkout the video for Rock The Boat.