What is there to be said about late R&B legend Aaliyah Dana Haughton that hasn’t already been eulogized in the 20 years since her untimely passing? Strikingly beautiful? Check. Voice of an angel? Listen to her cover of The Isley Brothers’ “At Your Best” and get back to us. Unmatched fashion icon? Go ask Tommy Hilfiger or Robert Cavalli. However, one of the cores of Aaliyah’s eternal Black girl magic lies within her timeless music, which you unfortunately still can’t stream at the moment but seems to be on the horizon very soon.
Out of the three studio albums she was able to release in her short-yet-impactful career, the 2001 self-titled masterpiece, Aaliyah, truly reigns supreme even 20 years after its release.
“I decided to self-title this album, Aaliyah, and I wanted to do that because my name is Arabic and it has beautiful meaning; it means ‘the highest, most exalted one, the best,’ and I wanted the name to really carry the project,” she said in a behind-the-scenes DVD featurette (seen above) that fans who first bought a deluxe edition copy of the LP were treated to 20 years ago today (July 17) — oh, and exalted it most definitely was! Hits like “We Need A Resolution,” “More Than a Woman,” “Rock The Boat” and “I Care 4 U” were officially released and helped the late music icon achieve major success with the LP, but Aaliyah as a whole is a genre-bending, sonically next level LP from start to finish that over the span of 14 tracks, 15 if you copped the rare limited edition that featured a hidden bonus song, serenades you with a combination of soul, jazz, rock, dance pop, funk, heavy metal and even salsa just to name a few.
Although Aaliyah herself never got a chance to fully see how influential this album became, selling over 13 million globally and expected to quadruple once it finally hits DSPs, her musical legacy has surely expanded across generations because of it. As the world awaits to see Baby Girl make her posthumous debut into the digital era of streaming, it goes without saying that our undisputed Princess Of R&B is more relevant in 2021 than ever before. One of the primary reasons for that is due to the unwavering appeal of the Aaliyah album, and we’ll continue to cherish this amazing body of work along with the rest of the world for another 20 years on….and on and on and on.
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