As with every August 25 for the past two decades, the music world has mourned one of its greatest losses in remembrance of quadruple threat, Aaliyah Dana Haughton.
On this date in 2001, the forever 22-year-old singer, dancer, model and actress was on her way back from the Bahamas after filming a music video for her new single, “Rock The Boat.” The last-minute shoot was in response to the song’s unexpected airplay success on radio at the time, with a video for another single, “More Than A Woman,” already haven been shot and scheduled as the follow-up to her lead single, “We Need A Resolution.” The new plan was to serve both singles as back-to-back releases, a move we see many artists do successfully today.
A plane crash later that afternoon at 6:50PM abruptly ended all those plans, and Baby Girl tragically lost her life in pursuit of yet again becoming a pioneer of the clever marketing tool.
The world will never know how big she would’ve become had those plans came to fruition, in addition to her double career as an in-demand actress in The Matrix: Reloaded, The Matrix: Revolutions and a Whitney Houston-produced remake of Sparkle later released in 2012 with Jordin Sparks as the lead. Aaliyah was even rumored to be working on a period piece she was developing herself titled Some Kind Of Blue, a love story set during the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival with the “One In A Million” singer playing a romantic lead.
It’s those many unfilled plans, in addition to countless others, that make the loss of Aaliyah still hard to fathom over 20 years after her untimely passing. However, a handful of her contemporaries and successors alike have for years made sure her legacy continues, as she once sang so beautifully, on and on and on.
From dear friends like Missy Elliott who were there when she was alive, to current pop sensations like Normani that came decades after her heavenly transition, we give props to five musicians making sure we never forget the L-I-Y-A-H:
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1. MISSY ELLIOTTSource:Getty
No musician in the industry, save for maybe Timbaland, has honored Baby Girl’s legacy quite like Missy Elliott. As a main writer for some of Aaliyah’s biggest and most signature songs, including “If Your Girl Only Knew,” “I Care 4 U” and the forever classic “One In A Million,” it goes without saying that Missy will always ride for her “Best Friend” collaborator.
The “One In A Million” sample on her smash 2021 single “Wild Side” proved without question that Normani was birthed from the house that Aaliyah built. However, her metallic dance number at the MTV VMAs that year was a page borrowed straight from the 1997 music video for “4 Page Letter.” We see you!
Although the Euphoria star has put music on hold, her aspirations to balance a dual career in music and Hollywood is one that her admitted idol was mastering effortlessly before that fateful plane crash. We see a lot of similarities between the two, not to mention the fact that Z almost actually played Aaliyah in that poorly-received 2014 Lifetime biopic — definitely dodged a bullet there!
4. THE WEEKND
The Weeknd, an extension of Aaliyah super fan Drake, has both a musical vibe and falsetto that is very much in tune with Baby Girl’s signature sound. No wonder Blackground Records 2.0 had them join forces late last year for the posthumously-released “Poison,” a purported single off her upcoming album of unreleased demos.
From eclectic music and an undeniably influence on fashion, to ethereal beauty and that around-the-way tomboy chic flair, the similarities between Rihanna and Aaliyah are undeniable. Rih has always name-dropped the Princess Of R&B as one of her biggest influences on all levels, and her billion-dollar empire is only an idea of what Aaliyah would’ve also accomplished has she lived.