Sunday, January 18, 2009

One In A Million

With the release of "Notorious" a biopic on the life of Notorious B.I.G., it's important to take some time to look back at the musicians we've lost way before their time should have been up. I wasn't too big of a fan of Biggie's, but he did make some groundbreaking music, making huge strides for the hip hop community, and "Mo Money, Mo Problems" is an awesome track.

However, it is in a similar vein that I wish to pay due respect to Ms. Aaliyah Haughton, who passed away in August of 2001 at just 22 years old. This past Friday, coincidentally the day that "Notorious" went to theatres, would have been her 30th birthday. Aaliyah was an R&B legend, releasing her first album, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number, at age 15. She had six #1's around the world, including "Try Again", produced by her friend and mentor Timbaland, which went to #1 on the US Hot 100 in 2000. She had also worked closely with R. Kelly, Missy Elliot and Steve Garrett.

"It's been too long
And I'm lost without you
Tell me what am I gonna do?
Said I've been needing you, wanting you
Wondering if you're the same
And who's been with you
Is your heart still mine?
I wanna cry sometimes
I miss you"

Aaliyah was an innovator in so many ways, and was remarkable in her caring demeanor. Her "Greatest Hits" compliation, dubbed "I Care 4 U", is chock full of R&B goodness from beginning to end, my favorite being "One In A Million", a soulful slow jam that tears at your heartstrings.

She wasn't the type of R&B godess that wowed you with the power of her vocals, it was about her swagger, her style, her charisma, her stage prescence, the sheer impact of her vocals, her control of her voice. She indeed was "One In A Million."

I remember the day that Aaliyah passed vividly, now even more in technocolor thanks to the events of September 11th, which happened just a month later. Upon finishing filming the music video for "Rock The Boat", the plane she was taking from Bahamas to Miami crashed. It was later found that both cocaine and alcohol was found in the pilot's blood, and he falsfied papers regarding his pilot's license. The whole affair is so awful, it's hard to even recall.

The song "Miss You" was released in 2003 as a post-humous single, featured on the compliation "I Care 4 U." The song was co-written by Ginuwine, was recorded long before Aaliyah's death and was never-before released. The songs lyrics are incredibly poignant and fitting, in an almost disturbing way, and topped the US Hot R&B Tracks Chart. The music video was made up of cameos by friends and admirers of Aaliyah, including Missy Elliot, Jay-Z, Lil Kim, Jamie Foxx, Queen Latifah, Toni Braxton, Dallas Austin, Timbaland, Quincy Jones and Mary J. Blige.

Aaliyah, like Biggie before her, provided an ample legacy for her fellow musicians and she will always be remembered and missed. It's hard to imagine what her music she would be providing for us now, what she'd sound like. But at least we have a plethora of good music to listen to when we get lonely for her.

I think we are relatively lucky in terms of a generation that had talented people stolen from us before their time. Still, we must never forget the greats, and cannot speak on this topic without bringing up the incredible Selena, who passed away in 1995 and is coming up on 15 years since that tragic event.

My mother has told me the story several times of the cold December day in 1980, long before I was a twinkle in my parents eyes, when my father woke her up to tell her that John Lennon had been murdered. My mother rolled over, too exhausted, and said, "Thank God it wasn't Paul [McCartney]", her personal favorite in the band that was the voice of her generation, The Beatles. It wasn't until sometime later that day that it truely crippled her in realization of what the world lost.

I'm sorry for the downer of a post, but some memorials need to be had and some things deserve to be sacred. So to all of those greats who have passed on, we miss you and we remember you. Always.


Anonymous said...

I agree 100%.

Aaliyah was an icon who defined a generation with her ground breaking music and style, and she will forever remain a legend, always remembered for her musical innovation and future potential.

One in a million is also my favorite Aaliyah song. Her music was so ahead of it's time that you can listen to plenty of her tunes now and they wouldn't sound dated appearing on any new R&B/Pop album.

John said...

It's cliched, but "gone too soon" definitely sums up our loss. So much talent, and such a wonderful soul. All of that potential, never to be achieved.

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