36 years old…
That is the landmark R&B Princess Aaliyah would be this month. Unfortunately, fate had decided otherwise.
In a bid to salute one of the major artist who has put modern R&B on the mainstream map, From The Vault journeys back to 1996 this week to spotlight her classic ‘If Your Girl Only Knew’.
Developed by then-up-and-comers Missy Elliott and Timbaland, ‘Girl’ was Aaliyah’s Atlantic Records debut but most importantly the first indicator of longevity after her successful first album. The lead single from the singer’s ‘One In A Million’ LP, it achieved major success in the USA, peaking at #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and reaching the coveted top spot of the Hip-Hop/R&B Songs and Tracks tally.
Joseph Khan directed the track’s visual which featured the stunner as the Queen Bee of an Urban biker crew. One could argue the styling in the video is pretty faithful to what the “Aaliyah Look” that she would later become renown for. Bandana, crop top and baggy pants and of course sunglasses, Ms Haughton showcases a potent blend of “Street”, “Cool” and “Feminine”. Masterminds Missy and Timbo all appear in the video alongside 90’s staples Lil’ Kim, Ginuwine and R&B trio 702.
Aaliyah, through her well crafted R&B and edgy videos helped redefine the genre as we know it and her influence can still be witnessed in Pop-Culture over 13 years after her tragic passing. Her death is all the more saddening when taking account that 2001 truly felt like the “moment” in time where she hit her mark as an artist as evoked with songs and videos like ‘More Than A Woman’ and ‘Rock The Boat’.
Considering the impact she had during her 10-year run as well as the extent of her legacy, it’s clear to say that the music industry would be looking a lot different if Baby Girl was still amongst us today.
Thankfully, we’ll always have her art to remind us of her incredible talent.
Aaliyah we salute you.