With the exception of a couple of released statements, Aaliyah’s family hasn’t done much talking regarding the announcement of Lifetime’s forthcoming biopic about the fallen singer’s life. But that all changed yesterday when Aaliyah’s cousin and Blackground Records executive, Jomo Hankerson, stopped by the Ryan Cameron Morning Show. During brief chat, he spoke openly about the marriage scandal involving Baby Girl and R. Kelly. Jomo revealed that he was extremely surprised at how people “blamed” and “villainized” Aaliyah when the news broke.
“What was surprising to me was that after it all, Aaliyah got villainized. That’s the part that I never understood.”
Jomo went on to add that he believes the singer was sort of blacklisted by industry insiders behind the scandal, which made putting together her sophomore album a lot more challenging.
“That’s what made the transition to the second album difficult. It was hard for us to get producers. We were coming off of a multi-platinum debut album and except for a couple of relationships with Jermaine Dupri and Puffy, it was hard for us to get producers on the album.”
“She was 16, 17 at the time of the second album. I just didn’t understand why they were upset with baby girl.”
Apparently, no producers really wanted to touch Aaliyah’s second project if they couldn’t benefit from the controversy by having R. Kelly on a few tracks. As for why he thinks the marriage allegations were such a big deal, Jomo says romantic relationships between musically affiliated artists were popular at the time.
“At the time, it was she was huge. He was huge. Biggie and Faith were together. It was a lot of things going on like that in the business at that time. I think it was just indicative of the times. When you hear that first album it was obviously a lot of creative chemistry on that record.”
Jomo declined to answer whether or not R. Kelly and Aaliyah were actually married or not, but he promised that fans would know the full story once a family authorized biopic is released.
“I’ll let that come out in the movie..It won’t be in this movie, but it will come out one day. It’s not my place or the forum for me to really get into that, that’s why I just back off.”
He also reiterated the family’s stance on Aaliyah’s biopic being a made-for-TV movie.
“We feel like it’s really not the right platform. Aaliyah was a legend. She was a hugely influential artist on our culture. You still see it. Drake talks about how much influence she had. Sevyn Streeter—her first song was very reminiscent of ‘Rock The Boat.’ She still has an effect on music right now. I think that she deserves the treatment of a ‘Walk The Line’ or a ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It?’ A big, major movie that’s a part of the culture as well.”
Also, the Lifetime biopic will not include the original versions of Aaliyah’s most famous hits. Instead, they will include rerecorded versions of four tracks that the network was able to acquire rights to from publishing companies.
Watch Jomo’s interview on the next page. Let us know your thoughts below.