Today in Hip Hop History: January 16, 1979
Today marks the would-be 37th birthday of late R&B singer, dancer, model and actress Aaliyah Dana Haughton, or Aaliyah. The famous singer was born in Brooklyn, New York but grew up in Detroit. She remains one of the most revered song writers and performers of the 1990’s, as well as one of the greatest R&B acts of all time, despite her abrupt death and short-lived career.
She had her beginnings when her uncle, Barry Hankerson, signed the young Aaliyah to Jive Records at the age of 12. He then introduced her to R. Kelly, who became her mentor, songwriter and producer of her debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number. Not without controversy, though. The two decided to elope when Aaliyah was only 15 years old, significantly under the legal age of marriage at 18. The relationship did not last long.
Aaliyah then proceeded to record her sophomore effort, enlisting the help of upcoming artists such as Timbaland and Missy Elliott, among others. The album, One in a Million, sold several millions of copies and solidified her position as a contemporary R&B sensation at its time in 1996.
Aaliyah’s final, self-titled album, was released in 2001 and continued her streak of excellence. Unfortunately, the singer only cherished its success for little over a month, as she passed away in August of 2001. On the flight back from the Bahamas filming a music video for “Rock the Boat,” her plane crashed and killed 9 total passengers. The unlicensed pilot had shown traces of cocaine and alcohol in his system at the time of the crash.
Unfortunately, Aaliyah’s story is one of those “why must the good die young” examples; her early career success, combined with her reputation for being an all around amazing and positive individual, displays the importance of her short-lived life. Aaliyah has touched millions of peoples with her music, including numerous subsequent artist citing her as one of, if not, the most influential forces in their careers.
Happy 37th birthday and Rest in Peace Aaliyah Dana Haughton (1979-2001).