When rapper/producer Timbaland drops his King Stays King mixtape on Christmas Day, it will feature a previously unreleased Aaliyah track. The late songstress teamed with Timbaland for some of her biggest hits including “Are You That Somebody?” and “Try Again.”
As Rolling Stone notes, Timbaland teased unreleased Aaliyah music in August, when he posted a photo of her on Instagram, along with the caption, “People ask me all the time do I have any babegirl music we haven’t heard!!!!! Well, the answer is yes!!!!!!!! TIMBO x BABEGIRL!!!!! Sneak peek coming!!!!!!!”
“It’s been a while since I’ve been able to give the world some new music,” the producer said in a statement. “I’ve spent a lot of time working on this project and I am just looking forward to giving my fans some dope sounds to close out the year.”
— Complex Music (@ComplexMusic) December 16, 2015
Billboard credits Aaliyah for her sultry redefinement of R&B, pop, and hip hop in the 1990s. When she was 12, she signed with Jive Records and her uncle, Barry Hankerson’s, Blackground Records. Her uncle introduced her to R. Kelly, who became her mentor and producer of her debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number.
Kelly also entered into an illegal marriage with Aaliyah when she was 15. In January of 1995, Vibe Magazine published a copy of their marriage certificate showing Aaliyah listed her age as 18, and Kelly accurately listed his age as 25. Their union was annulled primarily because she was too young to get married without her parents’ consent.
Timbaland and Missy Elliott produced her second album, One in a Million; it sold over 8 million copies worldwide. Aaliyah appeared in her first film, Romeo Must Die, in 2000 — contributing “Try Again” to the film’s soundtrack. It topped the Billboard Hot 100. She stunned with her role in Queen of the Damned, and released her third and final album, Aaliyah, in July, 2001. She has sold 32 million albums worldwide to date.
— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) December 16, 2015
News of Timbaland’s rare Aaliyah track comes nearly two years after Drake and Noah “40” Shebib halted production on their music project in honor of her legacy. The duo was planning to release an album’s worth of previously unreleased Aaliyah recordings, but decided against it once her immediate family, Timbaland, and Missy Elliott refused to support the effort, which was to come out via a record label run by her uncle and cousin.
“I was naïve to the politics surrounding Aaliyah’s legacy and a bit ignorant to Timbaland’s relationship and everybody else involved and how they’d feel,” Shebib told Vibe in 2014. “Tim said to me, ‘Don’t stop. Make the album.’ I think that was Tim taking the position of, ‘I’m not going to stop you. If you’re not going to do it, that’s your decision.’”
On August 25, 2001, Aaliyah and eight others were killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas after filming the music video for the hit single “Rock the Boat.” The pilot was allegedly unlicensed and had traces of cocaine and alcohol in his system. Her family would later file a wrongful death lawsuit against Blackhawk International Airways, which was settled out of court.
Last year, Lifetime’s Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B biopic became the laughingstock of the internet due to its questionable casting and inaccurate depictions of certain aspects of her life.
[Images courtesy Kevin Winter/Getty Images/George De Sota/Liaison/Twitter]