In a few weeks, many music fans will be honoring R&B icon Aaliyah to recognize the 20 years since her tragic death in a plane crash on August 25, 2001.
The past few decades have seen many moves in her legacy, including a scrapped posthumous album executively-produced by Drake, an official M.A.C. makeup collection, a Funko Pop! figurine and artists like current pop tart Normani that have sampled her classic hits time and time again.
The core thing that’s been missing however is her full catalogue of music on streaming platforms, which fans have been protesting for years to hopefully obtain. Now that her former label recently relaunched as Blackground 2.0 and alluded to hits like “Try Again,” “One In a Million,” and “Are You That Somebody?” making a long-awaited DSP debut soon, her family-ran estate is not only protesting that move but also sending shots at another unauthorized project in the form of a biography told from the lens of veteran journalist and admitted longtime fan, Kathy Iandoli.
Add to the fact that her illegal 1994 marriage to disgraced musician R. Kelly is being brought up once again in his pretrial hearings, and it all just leads us to one theory: we need a resolution!
In terms of the music, it appears that the extremely illusive Barry Hankerson has risen from wherever he was hiding to finally give fans what they want. Problem is, his prior business dealings make it very hard to trust whether or not this is a move made out of respect or for sheer profit. It’s worth noting that in addition to finally giving us Aaliyah’s music, Hankerson also intends to market the label’s new leading female artist, Autumn Marini, that’s definitely looking to be “the next Aaliyah” for Blackground based off style and image overall.
Sadly, it appears that all of this is happening without any consent from the official estate of Aaliyah, spearheaded by her brother Rashad Haughton and mother Diane.
Here’s what Rashad posted in response to the relaunch of Blackground Records, which was also posted to official Aaliyah social accounts on Twitter and Instagram, in addition to The Aaliyah App platform:
Many found Rashad’s “unauthorized projects targeted to tarnish” comment to be vague, although it’s worth noting that Iandoli’s upcoming book, Baby Girl: Better Known As Aaliyah, has no involvement with her official estate and recently made headlines based off a leaked excerpt. Kathy’s book claims the “Rock The Boat” hitmaker was given a pill by an unnamed person in her crew that put her in a deep sleep and led to her being carried on the reportedly overloaded plane against her initial protests.
R. Kelly comes back into the picture following recent news that prosecutors in his upcoming sex abuse trail will be allowed to present evidence showing he allegedly had “sexual contact” with Aaliyah (referred to as “Jane Doe #1) when she was underage.
More on that from USA Today:
“In a pre-trial motion, prosecutors allege that Kelly believed she became pregnant, so he secretly arranged a marriage to protect himself from possible criminal charges, because a wife can’t be forced to testify against a husband. ‘
‘It’s clearly relevant and it clearly shows a motive for Racketeering Act Number One, so that is admissible,’ U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly ruled.
One of Kelly’s lawyers, Nicole Blank Becker, objected that discussing before the jury some aspects of the marriage episode may be “more prejudicial than probative,” the standard for whether to admit evidence at trial. The judge said she would follow established rules about what is admissible.”
However this all turns out, we think everyone just hopes to be able to celebrate the life of Aaliyah on the 20th anniversary of her passing with little to no drama.
R.I.P. always, Baby Girl.
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