COVER STORY | By the age of 22, Aaliyah Haughton had developed an extensive catalog that scorched the airwaves and provided the soundtrack for our formative years. While surface appreciators enjoyed success of “One in a Million”, ”4 Page Letter”, “Are You That Somebody”, “Try Again” and “Rock The Boat”, true fans cherished the excavation of the recording that dwelled out of the spotlight and within the track lists, chronicling the lifespan of the singer from a girl into more than a woman. In celebration of the R&B Princess, we dive into Aaliyah’s most precious deep cuts and album gems. You wouldn’t find these tracks on the radio, but we felt them just as much as the hits.
Album: Aaliyah (2001)
From its opening boom, “Loose Rap” holds no punches as our no-longer rookie has graduated, reaching her fill of weak advances from wannabe players and superficial posers. Delivering the sharp lyrics of Stephen “Static” Garret, the chanteuse confidently outlines the stipulations of earning her affections, and you’d better bring you’re A-game to rise above the trite. A common thread of affirmation throughout her eponymous final studio LP, this is an early declaration of a woman who tolerates nothing less than excellence in matters of the heart.
Never Giving Up
Album: One in a Million (1996)
After the singer fell in love with the vocals on a demo produced by Craig King and Vincent Hubert, Aaliyah opted to make her latest song submission a duet with thirteen-year-old Tavarius Polk. With a voice beyond his years, the two found a harmony amid a sample of The Clark Sisters’ “I’ve Got An Angel (Live)” that builds a ballad of comfort, reassurance, and faith. Thanks to the recent release of Aaliyah’s sophomore LP on streaming services, new generations will be privy to the magic of this longtime fan favorite.
Timbaland & Magoo featuring Aaliyah
Album: Welcome To Our World (1997)
It was a family affair when Aaliyah commandeered the guest vocals of “Man Undercover” from 1997’s Welcome To Our World LP by Timbaland and Magoo. Supported by vocals by Missy Elliott, the song had all the makings of a bonafide smash by the Dream Team, from the infectious drum pattern atop the smooth grooveline enhanced by our effortless heroine and slick bars by Timbaland. There remains a strong consensus that “Man Undercover” was an untapped goldmine but early adopted who braved the experimental sound of Timbaland’s production are eternally grateful for this collaboration.
Album: Age Ain’t Nothin But A Number (1994)
Aaliyah’s control and tone is the headliner of “Young Nation”, the smooth serving from her 1994 debut, Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number”. A soulful vibe that sounds like it inspired Maxwell’s ‘Til The Cops Come Knockin”, the production from R. Kelly found a groove as laid back as the 14-year old songbird’s mature personality to describe not only her own nature but those of us who, too, possessed a jazz attitude.
Album: Aaliyah (2001)
If you took a poll of favorite songs from The Red Album, there’s strong probability that “It’s Whatever” would appear on every list. An autumnal breeze rushes beneath a heavy drum pattern produced by Eric Seats and Rapture Stewart of Key Beats. Aaliyah vocals ride the wind, delivering a poetic string of metaphors to describe the carefree and complementary bloom of a carefree love jones. This is an old school love song that remains a timeless keepsake for true fans to treasure.