TGJ Replay: Aaliyah’s 2001 ‘Aaliyah: The Album’ #FBF

Published: Friday 25th Aug 2017 by Rashad

Welcome back to TGJ Replay!

Designed much like our ‘Retro Rewind’ and ‘From the Vault’ features, ‘Replay’ is That Grape Juice‘s newest reflective segment to act as a written quest to re-spin the gems and jams of yesterday. Unlike its TGJ retrospective predecessors, ‘Replay’ looks to dust off and showcase entire albums (and eras) from a library of pop and Urban pop music hits.

To commemorate the 16th anniversary of the untimely passing of R&B’s princess Aaliyah, we’ll salute her last official LP – the eponymous project ‘Aaliyah.’

Despite seeing her second effort, 1996’s ‘One In a Million’ (the album), reach multiplatinum success thanks to its housed hits ‘One In a Million’ (the song), ‘Hot Like Fire,’ and the set’s biggest single – the piercing, Diane Warren-penned ballad ‘The One I Gave My Heart To’ – R&B songstress Aaliyah Dana Houghton, better known mononymously, and her Blackground Records team seemed in no rush to release a follow-up.  In fact, the only major chart entries she saw in the four years that followed ‘Million’ (the album), albeit the biggest successes of her career at that point, were soundtrack placements (i.e. the Academy Award-nominated ‘Journey to the Past,’ ‘Are You That Somebody,’ ‘I Don’t Wanna,’ and ‘Try Again’) and the occasional feature.  The chart triumphs of the aforementioned collectively served notice to Blackground that the buying public was absolutely here for what the songstress – affectionately nicknamed ‘Baby Girl’ – was serving and, as a result, were more than ready for her next full body of work.

Calling on her trusted team of producers, Missy Elliott and Timbaland, alongside songwriters and then up-and-comers Static Major, Bud’da, Keybeats, J. Dub, and more, Aaliyah – the project’s executive producer – was put in the driver’s seat for the first time in her career.  The move led to the assembled team crafting of a collection of progressive, alternative R&B tracks that would not only demonstrate the singer’s impressive vocal and sonic maturity, but also showcase personal and artistic growth as content from the album – her first as an adult – touched on topics unexplored in her previous work (i.e. domestic violence).   Her most personal album to date, the opus was christened a self-titled work.

Released July 2001, ‘Aaliyah’ produced three official singles:  ‘We Need A Resolution,’ ‘More Than a Woman,’ ‘and ‘Rock the Boat,’ the latter’s music video being her last ever as she was tragically killed in a plane crash departing from its set.

‘We Need A Resolution’

Billboard Hot 100 Chart Peak: #59

‘More Than a Woman’

Billboard Hot 100 Peak:  #25

‘Rock the Boat’

Billboard Hot 100 Peak:  #14

Note:  ‘Aaliyah’ is her only album [to date] that did not yield a top 10 single on the Hot 100.

Debuting at #2 on the Billboard 200 in summer 2001, the album would eventually rebound in sales after news of her untimely death and peak at #1 [her only chart-topper on that tally to date].  Overall, it currently sits just shy of the 3x platinum mark in U.S. sales.


Those who do not consider themselves “Aaliyah fans” often poorly and unfortunately misjudge the “hype” around the singer’s final project as a result of her death.  From a commercial perspective, this is arguably true.  Yet, the judgment is overall misguided because on the critical front – from fans and industry insiders alike – the project was hailed as one of R&B’s most progressive offerings while she was alive.  A void, arguably, unfilled authentically since the singer’s very own ‘One In a Million’ project years prior.

Combining the rhythmic genre with elements of rock (‘What If,’ ‘More Than a Woman’), hip hop (‘Loose Rap,’ ‘It’s Whatever’), Latin (‘Read Between the Lines’), soul (‘I Care 4 U’), pop (‘I Refuse’), island-inspired offerings (‘Rock the Boat’), and more, the masterful fusion of sounds listed aboard ‘Aaliyah’ were not as easily categorized as those of her competitors – a feat that made the album that much more of a gem.

As we salute the memory of Baby Girl and press play on our jam ‘Extra Smooth,’ look below to tell us:

Your thoughts?

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  1. Martaevia La’wayne August 25, 2017

    One amazing album from start to finish. Gone but never forgotten. R.i.p.❤️

  2. DanYiel Iman August 25, 2017

    Wasn’t a fan of Aaliyah’s but did purchase her album once she passed..??

  3. Suicide Blonde August 25, 2017

    This project was very ambitious, ahead of its time, it combines elements of many music genres, before this album, she was seen as just another R&B singer, with this record she definitely challenged the system, she was doing movies, music, etc, she was smarter than the people within her music genre, you can see that now. This is one of those albums that will always be discussed, not only because it was her last but also because it’s her best effort. I can only imagine how the follow up to this album would have sound.

  4. …I HATE WHITE B******. …and. BLACK B******. …both not s***… August 25, 2017

    The gorgeous Aaliyah could dance and sing. Queen of the dammed should have had more of her…The song __at your best was angelic. Jay-Z, dame dash, r.Kelly all loved this angel…. But she never decided

  5. Bitchpleeeeaaaasssezzzzzzzz August 25, 2017

    The entire album is the jam but I always struggle to finish it though due to the feeling of sadness. I can vividly recollect playing it nonstop when I heard the news. It still hurt though. RIP Baby Girl ?????

  6. #TeamTinashe Stan (DaniLeigh Is Coming ???) August 25, 2017

    Her two last albums were ahead of it’s time.
    Both albums couldn’t be compared to any other albums at that time due to the sound and lyrical components being so different.
    Long live the great one, Queen Aaliyah! 😉

    • Aaron Williams July 17, 2020

      She was a beautiful girl. This album truly shows her growth, and where she was headed. It was ahead of it’s time like everything she did from the very beginning of her career. Aaliyah would be on the status of Beyonce and Halle Berry if she was still with us. It was skies the limit for her.

  7. eric August 26, 2017

    One of my favorite albums, and it still sounds new. The writers, producers, everyone including Aaliyah gave 100% for this album.

  8. truthteller August 27, 2017

    Great album, although on balance I prefer One in a Million. I Refuse would have been a great single (it was actually a hit in France).

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