Today marks the 11 year anniversary of Aaliyah’s death. After all these years, the R&B singer is making a bit of a comeback. Drake recently used her vocals for a new track, plus there are rumors that a posthumous album is on the way. Fingers crossed that it’s true. To remember this talented musician who was taken away too soon, I thought I’d honor her memory today by sharing my favorite tracks from her.
At the young age of 22, the late R&B songstress lost her life on August 25, 2001 along with eight others due to a plane crash in the Bahamas. Aaliyah had just finished shooting video footage for her upcoming single, “Rock The Boat“, and was heading back to America to begin filming her role in the Matrix sequels. The singer and up-and-coming actress seemed to be at the peak of her game before she was suddenly taken away.
Though she was only 22 when she passed away, she had been in the music business for almost 10 years. At the age of 12 she signed a record deal with Blackground Records and later released her first studio album, Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number, at the age of 14. At the time of her debut release, rumors began to circulate that Aaliyah and R. Kelly had married. It was later found out that the rumors were true when a marriage certificate surfaced showing the two had indeed married illegally. The marriage was annulled by Aaliyah’s parents when they found out as Aaliyah was only 15 at the time while the certificate stated she was 18.
In her short musical career, Aaliyah released only three studio albums but gave us a plenty of wicked tracks to leave as her legacy- I even had a difficult time narrowing them down to my top five. Often coined the “Queen of Urban Pop”, Aaliyah definitely lived up to her name and one can only imagine how much richer our musical libraries would’ve been had she not been taken away from us so early.
Here are my favorite tracks by Aaliyah. They definitely bring back a ton of great memories of days gone by.
5. Rock The Boat – Aaliyah (2001)
Even though this was the song that took Aaliyah to the Bahamas for that fateful trip, I can’t deny it’s one of my all-time favorites from her. At the time of it’s release, she was slowly trying to shed her i’m-from-the-hood teenage image and into one of a sexy young woman burgeoning into her sexuality.
4. At Your Best, You Are Love (Remix) – Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number (1994)
Though it’s kinda creepy to look back on this video knowing what we know about R. Kelly nowadays, I still love this song a great deal. The album version was good in it’s own right but the remix took it to a whole different level. Listening to this track totally brings back the summer of ’94. I totally remember my friends and I doing the tip-toe dance that Aaliyah and R. Kelly perform in the video. I know… I AM A DORK. For the original version, click here.
3. If Your Girl Only Knew – One In A Million (1996)
The best single by far from her sophomore album, this track totally brings me back to my early days of clubbing when used to go to hip-hop nights. Mita, one of my old clubbing partners-in-crime, if you’re out there reading this… I’m doing the shoulder dance just for you. Hope you enjoyed the shout-out.
2. Back and Forth – Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number (1994)
The single that started it all. Back. Back. Forth. and Forth. I can’t believe this song is almost fifteen years old. Yikes. It’s still as good today as when I first heard it. Whenever I’m in the mood for some ol skool tracks or Brian and I are doing our weekly Sunday morning iTunes “random” shuffle playlist ritual, I’ll put this on.
1. Try Again – Romeo Must Die Soundtrack (2000)
This single was released in conjunction with the release of her theatrical debut acting performance. Aaliyah played a modern-day Juliet in this updated urbanized version of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. When radio stations announced Aaliyah’s death, this was the track most often played in her memory. In the words of Aaliyah, “at first you don’t succeed .You can dust it off and try again. Dust yourself off and try again, try again”.
Honorable mentions go out for the following tracks that didn’t make the list: “More Than a Woman“; “We Need A Resolution“; “Are You That Somebody” and “4 Page Letter“.