Remembering Aaliyah: The Fallen Songbird’s 9 Best Songs

Nine years ago today (Aug. 25), R&B singer Aaliyah Haughton died in plane crash while flying back to the U.S. from the Bahamas after shooting her video for “Rock the Boat.”

Aaliyah was only 22-years old. Yesterday, I wrote a blog entry about some of my favorite Fat Beats memories; well, I was in the legendary record store when someone informed me of Aaliyah’s passing. Needless to say that was not one of my favorite memories.

What Aaliyah left behind was a body of work that helped to define R&B for our generation. Her “Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number” single, from her 1994 album of the same name, spoke on our collective teenage yearn—we all wanted to be grown. Her remake of “At Your Best (You Are Love)” helped introduce me to the Isley Brothers’ music. Then, when Aaliyah hooked up with Timbaland for her “One in A Million” single in 1996, to me, the game changed.

Tim’s sporadic double-time drum pattern helped open up my palette to include the sounds of the Dirty South. I always thought of that song as the musical precursor to the South’s hip-hop takeover. Interestingly enough it came as a sultry R&B record. With One in A Million Aaliyah had switched her sound, the former R. Kelly protégé had left the fading New Jack Swing sound and hooked up with Timbaland, Missy Elliot, then later added songwriter Static Major to the mix on her 2001 self-titled album.

Along with her artistry there was controversy that surrounded Babygirl’s life—her relationship with R. Kelly, then her romance with Dame Dash and supposed dealings with Jay-Z. Still, none of the scandal seemed to matter much, because on her records, her voice was so angelic. As a fan, I turned a blind eye toward the gossip and the rumors; her music helped me block all of that out. It’s funny but I can tie most of Aaliyah’s singles to some relationship in my life—mostly past girlfriends. It just so happened that she dropped a record every time I was going through something; like if she knew or something. Or maybe it was me subconsciously attaching myself to her songs, looking for deeper meaning.

Whatever the case; today, in remembrance of Aaliyah Dana Haughton, I will play her music and be mindful that life is short and not something to be taken for granted. If you’d like to join me, here are my nine favorite Aaliyah songs—one for every year she’s been gone.

Missing you. —Rob Markman

“Back and Forth”

  • Ace

    My true favorite songs by Aaliyah are Hot Like Fire and The One I Gave My Heart To. R.I.P. Baby Girl

  • Plies da nigga wit dat yoppa

    She had a lil booty but i woulda let her get somethin

    • http://xxlmag.com Yo mama

      Get off the internet and finish washing up your grandfather he needs his monthly bath dumb ass… PS. I left the pink outfit your daddy used to wear on the nightstand I couldnt get out all the stains but he dont mind anyhow… FAGGOT.

  • jburg

    Rock the Boat was that shit!!

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  • dingo

    this tha chick that sing that song about birds right? she wuz in tha movie wit jet lee

  • Jhon da Analyst

    There are a lot of Aaliyahs out in the world. Including my own baby girl. Miss u Aaliyah! U will always be an angel……..

  • 8=====D~~~

    lol

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  • JC

    Aaliyah was amazing, the total package…beautiful.

  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    one in a million. i named my daughter after her. that song had a lot to do with my daughter’s creation as well.

  • sparkcity911

    A QUEEN IN PARIDISE RIGHT KNOW…

  • adrian smith birmingham england

    r.i.p aaliyah miss you big time your music will live 4ever one n a million more than a woman classics peace

  • Sha

    Rock the boat…. Nuff said.

  • david ladson

    are you waiting on me in paradise…

  • http://jamal7mile.blogspot.com Jamal7Mile

    Rest In Paradise Babygirl…

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  • Bronxbomma

    I picked 4 page letter. More than a woman was a hot joint as well. Mr. C did a dope tribute this morning. That joint from the Sunset Park Soundtrack was hot. Think it’s called are you ready. R.I.P. Aaliyah.

  • LHC

    I voted for “Are you that somebody.” In the video, it begins with Aaliyah as we had been accustomed to seeing her at that time. Baggy pants and a little top. In the end she comes out in what my baby nephew had at the time referred to as her “dance clothes” looking as beautiful as ever. It embodies my experience of Aaliyah to me, watching the transition of a talented, beautiful young girl grow into an even more talented, beautiful woman.

  • Q461

    Aaliyah was so great. Beautiful girl who is def missed by the world. My fav songs were Back and Forth and Are you That Somebody. RIP to one of our generation’s greats.

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  • Q!thaGreat!

    Aaliyah was the bridge between Janet Jackson type of pop fame and Mary J. Blige type of street fame. she had the potential to be an exceptionally great artist and would have been an icon by now.She is forever in the hearts of those that had the privilege to experience her gift to the world. She is forever missed. R.I.P baby girl!

  • Fart

    Used to jerk it to this hoe in middle school.

  • Face Phoenix

    Definitely one of my favorite artist. I kind of wondered why her family didn’t keep her memory in the public conscious as much as some of the less deserving artists. It seemed like they dropped that subpar Greatest Hits and then *poof* nothing else. No posthumous tributes, albums, movies, documentaries -nothing. She had a slew of remixes and b-sides that would have sold well. Maybe the actions they took were for the best. Sometimes you can damage a legacy when you over expose your audience to new materials that you may think are not up to a higher standard. Still I would like to see a tribute, remix or duets album because it seems her material is all but forgotten on many urban radio stations. Hard to believe it’s nearly Ten Years, since that tragic day.

  • HE-HATE-ME

    miss u baby girl.r.i.p

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  • Mpho

    If Your Girl Only Knew is my shit..

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