Fans continue their fight for Aaliyah’s legacy on the 19 anniversary of her tragic death as many fear she’ll soon be forgotten. Despite releasing three records in her lifetime, only songs from “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number” are available on streaming services.
The controversial album was recorded with Jive Records and primarily written by alleged pedophile, R. Kelly . After the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” pointed out how Kelly’s lyrics may have described his abuse, fans felt that Aaliyah’s legacy was tainted.
For years, fans have been demanding that her remaining two albums become available on streaming services, but their cries have been ignored. As physical records become phased out, they worry her unreleased music will get left behind.
Rights to most of Aaliyah’s music belongs to her uncle, record producer Barry Hankerson .
As head of Blackground Records, he had Aaliyah record her last two albums with him. After his niece’s death, Hankerson ran the boutique label into the ground and ultimately lost their distribution. Several artists sued Hankerson and the label, including JoJo, Timbaland, and Toni Braxton.
As Kelly’s manager and producer for ten years, it’s likely Hankerson had suspicions about what went on behind closed doors. Regardless, he still chose to pair Kelly with his niece when working on Aaliyah’s first album. It was released in 1994, the same year Kelly and Aaliyah illegally tied the knot using a fake ID when she was just 15-years-old.
Whether it’s guilt or greed that prevents Hankerson from releasing Aaliyah’s last two records, fans are afraid that her relationship with Kelly will overshadow her legacy. They fear her talent as an entertainer will be forgotten as more people rely on streaming services for their music.
Over the years, there have been rumors that the albums “One in a Million” and “Aaliyah” were going to be available to stream , but nothing has ever come of them. In 2013, some of Aaliyah’s songs were illegally uploaded to iTunes by Craze Digital. A lawsuit later forced them to be removed.
Hope for Aaliyah’s legacy arose again in December of 2019 when Hankerson announced that the albums would be made available in honor of the late singer’s birthday. His tweet tagged several streaming services , including Spotify and Apple Music, but what would have been Aaliyah’s 41 birthday came and went without a word. His Twitter account has since been suspended.
On the 19 anniversary of Aaliyah’s death, fans were given hope yet again. A carefully worded statement was released by the R&B artist’s estate announcing potential plans for the release of her last two records.
While some fans are angry about Aaliyah’s music being held hostage, others are falling for what is likely another lie.
Hankerson has earned himself a shady reputation in the music industry, and rightfully so. He was accused of putting the barely-legal pop star, JoJo, on a 500-calorie diet . She also revealed that the record label assigned her a nutritionist that advised her to get appetite suppression injections.
In the lawsuit filed by Braxton , Hankerson was also accused of fraud and breach of contract. When she tried to fire him, Hankerson responded with petty revenge plots.
Considering the former manager responded to being dumped by spreading childish rumors and purchasing the salon his girlfriend worked at just to fire her, it’s easy to imagine what he would do when being sued for $10 million.
Only time will tell if anything amounts from this announcement, but it’s likely just another ploy to keep Aaliyah’s music relevant. Hankerson will try his best to squeeze every dime he can get out of this deal, regardless of how long it takes. Many fans are willing to fight for Aaliyah’s legacy while others have caved and bought the albums on CD or vinyl.