YES, Aaliyah Would’ve Been An R&B LEGEND If She Was Alive Today

YES, Aaliyah would’ve been a certified R&B LEGEND if she was still alive so please stop asking or pretending that she would’ve been Christina-Milian-2.0 or some other stupid shit. I’m an putting an end to the madness RIGHT FUCKING NOW.

You wanna know why Aaliyah would’ve been a certified *music* LEGEND if she was alive now?! Because her inner circle of close friends in the business, Timbaland & Missy (plus her boyfriend Dame Dash) were ALL on the eve of experiencing their greatest musical successes just prior to her untimely passing on August 25th, 2001.

First, let’s provide some background. Before getting specifically to Aaliyah.

Tim & Missy were a songwriting/production team who crafted a unique sound that was light-years ahead of the game. When they got together in 96, they collectively created some FIRE tracks together including:

While those particular songs only touched on that new sound, they quickly mastered it and came in with a sound that was unlike anything we were really hearing in urban music at the time. On Missy’s Supa Dupa Fly album, tracks like “The Rain” and “Sock It 2 Me” were sonically ahead of their time, which can also be said of Timbaland’s own songs like “Up Jumps Da Boogie” (made with Magoo, which also featured Aaliyah and Missy on the remix). Go listen to a 96-98 R&B mixtape from that time and listen to what every other producer was doing. Go ahead. You’ll see this is FACT. Their unique sound was instrumental to how quickly they took the game over in a 3 year span.

After helping Aaliyah go double-platinum mostly due to their collective work together, THAT unique sound returned in two of the most memorable songs of Aaliyah’s entire career: “Are You That Somebody?” and “Try Again” – two of the craziest beats we had EVER heard in R&B at that time. Bruh, we were literally in the club jamming to a sample of a baby giggling and it was HARD AS FUCK.

Her relationships with Timbaland & Missy weren’t just musical acquaintances, they were close FRIENDS and they worked together whenever they could. Here’s what each was creating and working on in the last year of Aaliyah’s death:

Missy Elliott: Miss E…So Addictive (the album with “Get Ur Freak On” & “One Minute Man”)

Timbaland: Producing chart climbing tracks for Aaliyah, Missy, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Ludacris, Nelly Furtado, The LOX, Memphis Bleek, K-Ci & JoJo, Ginuwine, & Petey Pablo (RAISE UP! WAS A BIG TUNE.)

Dame Dash: Executive produced Jay-Z’s “The Blueprint”, Beanie Sigel’s “The Truth”, and DJ Clue’s “The Professional Part 2” and signed artists such as Cam’Ron, Freeway & State Property, and began grooming a young producer named Kanye West.

After Aaliyah’s death, Missy took that sound that she bust with Aaliyah and parlayed that into another classic album Under Construction (featuring “Work It” & “Gossip Folks”) and she began producing and co-producing hits like “Lady Marmalade”, Tweet’s “Oops” and being featured on a ton of different songs. Timbaland began working with Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado (amongst others) and took his sound worldwide). Dame pumped out classics from “Blueprint 2” to “College Dropout”.

Here’s my theory: while you can argue that they all began a slow decline after ’06/’07, their collective highest heights all came between 2000-2005 and I know good and damn well that Aaliyah would’ve been closely musically aligned with that sound had she been alive – it was HER sound and it had already provided her with the biggest hits of her entire career. Aaliyah, who has a TOP 5 contemporary R&B discography (fight me, I DARE you) was actually robbed of what may have been the PRIME of her R&B career. Her sound, regardless of whether you think she can sing or not, was COPIED all throughout those years. In the years she was robbed of, there was ARGUABLY NO OTHER R&B ARTIST IN THE WORLD RECEIVING BETTER PRODUCTION THAN SHE WOULD’VE BEEN (yes, including Beyonce – I DARE you to gas up the production on “Dangerously In Love”).

But probably the number one reason Aaliyah would’ve been a musical ICON by now is because she was super creative. Comparing Aaliyah to Christina Milian is stupid-as-fuck because it ignores her artistic nuances. As she matured, she developed an incredibly diverse musical and cultural palette. She easily could’ve released a couple of classic albums between 2003 and 2005 and then shifted her primary focus to acting, only to return in 2008 on some neo-soul hipster shit.

Obviously this is just speculation, but when you judge an artist’s potential impact, it’s important to note who they surrounded themselves with, and the impact THEY made as well. Aaliyah died right on the eve of HER sound taking over, and that effectively robbed her of what would’ve been her best years.

Good night.


This Is Your Conscience

Lincoln Anthony Blades can be found on Twitter at @LincolnABlades and on Instagram at @ThisIsYourConscience