Aaliyah’s Legacy: Artists Paying Homage To Queen Of Urban Pop
It’s like she hasn’t left us. Not only are models copying her style, musicians are featuring her on their tracks and her unreleased songs — like “Quit Hatin” and “Time” — are popping up almost every year. Aaliyah’s legacy lives on.
On the anniversary (August 25, 2001) of Aaliyah’s untimely death due to a plane crash in the Bahamas, we pay tribute to the late singer and one of the most sampled posthumous artists of all time.
But we’re still waiting for Timbaland to top this list with the best Aaliyah tribute and production. He’s clearly not satisfy with some of the artists on this list and is sensitive about many of Aaliyah’s tributes still occurring to this day. Let’s see if this pushes him to release new Aaliyah material since 2005’s Ultimate Aaliyah album.
Chris Brown feat. Aaliyah – “Don’t Think They Know” (2013)
This is the most mainstream release featuring Aaliyah in years. A previous duet between Aaliyah and Digital Black of the R&B/hip-hop group, Playa, Brown’s version features more vocals from the late singer. But like Drake, Timbaland said Brown will never master a song featuring Aaliyah, but he later apologized for that — saying he liked the song. Also featuring a slow groove and a sampling of Jon B.’s “They Don’t Know,” the song was only a minor commercial success. Well, at least the video captures Aaliyah’s presence in holographic form featuring clips from “Try Again” and “If Your Girl Only Knew.”
Katy B feat. Jessie Ware – “Aaliyah” (2012)
Is this song supposed to be a reference to “If Your Girl Only Knew” because why else would Aaliyah take your man? Anyways, this club song by the British singer goes to show how Aaliyah had an international following. This one is growing on me for sure.
Aaliyah feat. Drake – “Enough Said” (2012)
I wonder if Drake’s Aaliyah obsession started with his ex, Keshia Chante (a look-alike who might be equally as obsessed)? Timbaland, who calls himself Aaliyah’s music soulmate, says a Drake-produced Aaliyah album won’t work. Ouch! But with that Aaliyah tattoo, Drake seems determined.
E.T. Selfish feat. Aaliyah, Digital Black of Playa – “Danc’n” (2010)
This is a very, little known unreleased Aaliyah joint. Allegedly, the song was recorded for her third album in Australia, but was left off the final track list. The song has a nice early 2000s feel to it — most notably because of Aaliyah herself. Little known is about the rapper E.T. Selfish. He mentions how he’s not commercially known in the track. This is true. But Digital Black of Playa is not unknown for paying tribute to Aaliyah.
Rashad (Aaliyah’s brother) – “One in a Billion” (2010)
Now this is simply creative. I enjoyed it. Aaliyah’s big brother, Rashad paid tribute to his sister by remixing her 1996 hit, “One in a Million.” He gave the song a new feel and catchy lyrics. Now who knew he could sing? I sure didn’t. He’s not on the level Aaliyah was on, but he’s a sweetheart for this.
Pleasure feat. Lil Wayne – “Rock Bottom” (2008)
Lil Wayne hasn’t always used original lyrics, which is what he’s known for. Well, that and some craziness. The rapper paid homage to Aaliyah by rapping the first verse of her hit, “I Don’t Wanna” featured on 2000’s Next Friday soundtrack. What do you think of his rendition, creative or unoriginal rapping? Comment.
Yaushameen Michael Feat. Aaliyah – “Girlfriends” (2007)
Unlike some featured in this list, Yaushameen Michael has a connection to Timbaland. She was featured on his track, “Put Em On” from his 1998 album, Tim’s Bio: Life from da Basement. This Aaliyah collaboration surfaced nearly a decade later. I wonder how he feels about it?
Aaliyah feat. Missy Elliott, Tweet – “Where Could He Be” (2005)
This hot R&B track was recorded for Aaliyah’s third self-titled album, which was released right before her death. But it never made it to the final track listing. However, the song, which samples Lisa Stansfield’s “All Around the World” and features Tweet and Missy Elliott, still blasted the radio airwaves in 2005. Allegedly, the song was illegally leaked and was removed from radio. This is the last Missy Elliott and Aaliyah collaboration (semi) released. Sigh.
Playa – “Aaliyah, Aaliyah” (2000s)
R&B/hip-hop group Playa, who commonly collaborated with producer Timbaland, paid tribute to Aaliyah many times. Enjoy this emotional R&B tribute by this group who reached their peak in the 1990s with hits like “Cheers 2 U.”
Boyz II Men – “Think of Aaliyah” (2000s)
Boyz II Men lended their beautiful vocals to an Aaliyah tribute. When I say beautiful, I mean it. It’s almost up there with their classics featuring their powerful vocals. These men formerly known as boyz really put some emotion behind this ballad.
Digital Black of Playa and Aaliyah – “Don’t Think They Know” (2005)
Before Chris Brown, Digital Black of Playa and Aaliyah collaborated on a song titled, “Don’t Think They Know.” This version features more vocals from Digital Black than Aaliyah. I think both versions are good, but Brown’s version is more mainstream, obviously. Which version do you enjoy more? Comment. Come on, give Brown props on mastering an Aaliyah tribute.
Mya – “After the Rain” (2003)
Mya dedicated her 2003 song, “After the Rain” to Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and Aaliyah. The song was featured on her album Moodring and should’ve been at least released to radio. Mya’s voice is reminisced of Aaliyah’s. I wouldn’t mind a future Mya and Aaliyah collaboration at all. Timbaland, can you make that happen?
Missy Elliott feat. Ginuwine & Tweet – “Take Away” (2001)
This list would be incomplete without Missy Elliott’s 2001 hit “Take Away.” A heartfelt song originally featured on her 2001 platinum album, Miss E… So Addictive, it became the perfect tribute to Aaliyah. Also, the music video was dedicated to Aaliyah featuring photos of the late singer. At the beginning of the video Missy writes, “I dedicate this to Aaliyah who brought life to my music…” and at the end, “There will never be a day that you will be forgotten, my guardian angel, Aaliyah. I love you. — Missy.”