The Red Album: Aaliyah Last Album Turns Fifteen
Image Source Google- Aaliyah album cover
Pre 911 July 2001 I was twenty years old and boy that was an interesting year, to say the least. And as always my summer tradition I made my trip to the local record store. During this month one of my all time favorite artist was releasing their third album which went to become a forever favorite of mine and is on my lifetime music playlist
On July 17th 2001, Aaliyah released her third and final self titled "Aaliyah" after a five year full album hiatus from her second album one in a million. At the time she had finally released a full album, of course to hold the fans over. We had the singles from the movie soundtracks such as 1998 Doctor Do Little SDTK "Are You That Somebody?" and in 2000 Romeo Must Die SDTK, "Try Again, I Don't Wanna, Come Back In One Piece and are you Feeling Me?.
It was an exciting time for Aaliyah it was a year after a successful movie and soundtrack, she had entered into legal adulthood She was twenty two years old. She was working on more films and added on to the cast of the matrix sequels and she had fallen in love with then boyfriend Damon Dash. He was the CEO of now defunct Roc A fella Records. Life was treating Aaliyah really well and it was great to see it.
The self titled album gave a glimpse of what was about to become in the world of music from Aaliyah. It was a complete change in sound for her. The lead single "We Need A Resolution" had the signature Timbaland production and he also assisted on "I Care 4 U" with his partner in crime Missy Elliot. And that was pretty much it for the duo on the album. On her previous album Tim and Missy laced the hell of that second album.
This album featured production from up and coming producers such as Eric Seats,Rapture, J Dub. They did a bulk of the production on this album; and alot of the writing was handled by the late Stephen Garrett aka Static of Playa. He also wrote the one of the most infamous hooks in rap and that was on Lil Wayne "Lolipop". I remember at the time when she was doing promo for this album and she mentioned who was behind the production of the album. When she said these names I was a little nervous at the time.
I had fallen in love with the team: Aaliyah, Tim and Missy, they was a winning combo. But I had faith in Aaliyah, at that time she could have had an infomercial selling rocks and I would have brought them. Also you have to keep in mind this is also a time when R&B music was starting to make a change and neo soul was on the rise.
Alicia Keys Era was beginning, Mary J Blige "No More Drama" came out , Janet Jackson sixth album came out. Beyonce was still in Destiny Child, India Arie released a good album in 2001. The Prince of R&B Usher dropped "8701" King of Pop Michael Jackson released "Invincible". I would say and this is my opinion, R&B was at it's highest peak at that time.
Aaliyah was in great company during that time, this last album was her evolution from teenage tomboy to a blossoming young woman. I too could relate because I was in the same age range, my interest and thoughts in life was changing. This album served as background music to my entrance into young womanhood. Also this was the second album that Aaliyah served as executive producer. A year prior in 2000 she filled that role when she released The Romeo Must die SDTK.
Being a quarterback on both soundtrack and this album seemed to be a strong suit for Aaliyah. Self titled was probably the most cohesive album out of the Aaliyah catalog, more then her previous two releases. From what I hear it tells me a story of relationship that has it ups and downs. The lead single starts off with two lovers in conflict on "We Need A Resolution". To not wanting to hear no mess "Loose Rap. Then it goes into a night of romance on "Rock The Boat". then the confidence and boldness shines through on"More Than A Woman".
And then there is a climax in the relationship and Aaliyah sings on a tough subject matter of domestic violence on"Never No More". Outside of the relationship there is that one gentle friendship that could be something else on"I Care 4 U". And there is always that one dude who think his stuff don't stink on "Extra Smooth". Back to the boyfriend who is not on the up and up on"Read Between The Lines". And of course he got on her nerves on "U Got The Nerve".
At one point Aaliyah was willing to do what it takes to keep things going in love on"I Refuse". Thru all the sadness and madness there can be bliss on "It's Whatever". And sometimes Aaliyah got a little bored with the relationship and someone else peaked her interests. She would not even mind being number two on "I Can Be". But the relationship is still there but it's not the same on "Those Were The Days". Sometimes she had to remind homeboy, what he won't do someone else will on"What If?" and the conflict comes back and things fall apart on "Messed Up".
And there you have it the emotions of a young woman being love, this was the start of a different journey in music for Aaliyah. After a month of listening to the CD at the time I felt good about the project. Even though it was not the same production from One in and Million it still fit with sound of R&B in that era and Aaliyah was still in her own lane.
Her last TV appearance on BET 106th and park on August 22nd 2001, there was a certain glow that Aaliyah had. Even though at the time she already had eight years under her belt in the industry. I still saw that she was about to be a mega star beyond this world she was ready and I was ready. I had looked forward to what was to come, however three days later on August 25th 2001 things dramatically changed. In the Bahamas after a long video shoot for Rock the Boat, Aaliyah and crew was headed back to the states.
The plane carrying the crew would not return them back home; It crashed killing all on board and on that day the world seemed a little bit dimmer well at least it did to me. What I saw three days earlier during that week in 2001 was a happy young woman with a bright smile and that will forever be my memory of Aaliyah.
I and probably many others wonder what would have happened if she made it home on August 26th 2001?
Stay tuned next month........
If you have not heard Aaliyah it was worth the listen
R.I.P Aaliyah Dana Haughton 1979 - 2001
Image Source Google - Aaliyah at her album release party July 2001