Since news broke that Drake would be executive producing a posthumous Aaliyah album, the critics have come out in full force to blast this potential pairing. The backlash has been comparable to what would happen if we found out Terry Perry was directing a new Cosby show – we simply are NOT having it. And it’s NOT surprising seeing as how much we love and respect Aaliyah – she was our young, beautiful, multi-talented and sweet pop princess with the ENTIRE world in front of her. It seems like there HAS to be ONE person more qualified to act as executive producer on her “new” album other than moist-towelette Drake – well, look no further, because I actually thought of 5.
Before we begin, let me reiterate what I said on my podcast [before all the OVO Stans’ rush in and accuse me of hating], I think Drake IS the best choice of executive producing the album – IF the options are only Timbaland, Missy and Drake. I think 40 is a brilliant producer, Drake has a nice feminine touch he can add to the records, and they are more musically CURRENT than Missy & Timbo. Plus, I think it will be VERY difficult for Tim & Missy to participate in a positive team effort for this album taking Aaliyah’s death and their friendships into consideration, as well as how things were left on her 2001 self-titled album.
As much as I like Drake/40, they HAVE to do a lot better than THIS though:
But with that said, here are MY choices on 5 SOLID-ASS picks to executive produce Aaliyah’s new album:
5. Raphaeel Saadiq
There is no other urban artist that I can think of that can accurately depict an old era with a flare of modern relevance. Hell, it’s not even a coincidence this negro is 46 and looks 29. He KNOWS how to make soulful music; He KNOWS how to produce all genres of the urban culture and give it a universal sound; But much more importantly, he simply knows how to make TIMELESS music. And THAT’S what would separate him from Drake - the difference between a HOT song and A LEGENDARY one.
Now I already here the murmurs and groans from y’all as you’re reading this, but give me a minute and let me explain. To understand this choice we ALL need to be honest about Aaliyah for a second. She was NOT the greatest singer, nor was she a neo-soul Empress like Jill Scott – she was an urban pop-princess who could dance her ass off and make tracks that can shut the club down. Yes, she had some incredible slow jams, but bringing out that ass-shakability factor would be HUGE in making an album for her, and will.i.am could do that. This is the same guy who has produced for the likes of Britney Spears, Nas, Rihanna, Mary J., Hilary Duff, U2, Earth Wind & Fire, Mariah Carey & Michael Jackson.
Who has a better grasp on producing urban music with a crossover pop appeal better than Usher right now? His old tunes will STILL make you drop it low in all your ratchet glory, and his current work proves he hasn’t lost his touch.
The uniqueness of this pairing is why I put it ahead of Usher. I’m NOT sure if Pharrell could produce a better Aaliyah album than Usher – but I’m damn well willing to find out. He is one of the ONLY artists I could think of with the ability to do her slow and up-tempo jams justice.
1. R. Kelly
This is the obvious, undisputed champion of a choice – it’s jut hard for us to admit, knowing that this negro was most-likely smashing teenage Aaliyah. If you really want to make a room uncomfortable, mention Aaliyah, then mention R.Kelly, then mention his sextape which includes his penchant for urinating on teenage girls (you probably cringed just reading that). But who else on this list has ALREADY produced classic songs for Aaliyah when she was alive? Who else has continued a two-decade long career of legendary hits? Who else can span ALL genres of urban music, and excite all demographics with different tunes? No-damn-body. It may make you uncomfortable to think about a young Aaliyah getting her salad tossed by big, frowsy R. Kelly, but you CAN’T deny their musical connection.
But in the end, my most HONEST opinion is that I don’t see why there needs to be this “new” album at all? Of course her life was cut short and selfishly we ALL want to hear the music she COULD have put out, even though she is no longer here with us. But it seems like this album will be put out come hell or high water, so all we can do at this point is PRAY that it’s in capable hands, so it doesn’t sound the way Michael Jordan LOOKED in a Wizards jersey.
This Is Your Conscience