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Remembering Aaliyah

Submitted by on August 25, 2010 – 7:06 am30 Comments

On this day nine years ago, Aaliyah Dana Haughton (simply known to her fans as Aaliyah) was killed in a plane crash in the Bahamas on the way back from filming the video for her posthumous hit single, “Rock the Boat.” At the time, the 22-year-old singer was preparing for the release of her third album, simply titled Aaliyah, which went on to sell 2.5 millions copies. The success of that album and her two previous albums (1994’s Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number and 1996’s One in a Million) was a true reflection of the singer’s impact on fans and the industry as a whole.

Aaliyah, whose soft, whispery vocals were just as infectious as every Timbaland-produced beat that usually accompanied them, is credited for helping redefine R&B and hip-hop in the 1990s. During that decade—often referred to by music fans as the “Golden Age” of hip-hop and R&B—it was a rare occurrence to walk past a stereo without hearing Aaliyah’s voice emanating from the speakers. She was christened the “Queen of Urban Pop” by commentators of pop culture, and her influence is seen in many of the R&B and pop chanteuses of today. As MTV News once put it, “It’s there in Rihanna’s runway-fashion sense. Keri Hilson’s around-the-way persona and Nicole Scherzinger’s simmering sexuality share a debt to her. And the sense of what her career could have ultimately become is evident in Beyoncé’s multimedia presence.”

Never one to rest on her laurels, before her death, Aaliyah was on the verge of being as big a star in Hollywood as she was in music. Prior to the plane crash that took her life, the Brooklyn, NY native starred in the Joel Silver produced Romeo Must Die, opposite martial arts master, Jet Li. The film, produced on a $25,000,000 budget, went on to gross $55,973,336 domestically and $91,036,760 worldwide. Having proved her box office appeal, Aaliyah took on the role of Queen Akasha in Queen of the Damned (released posthumously), and was slated to star in several other films at the time of her death, including Honey (Aaliyah was originally cast to play the title character), The Matrix: Reloaded and The Matrix: Revolutions. Her friend and longtime collaborator Missy Elliott said it best in an email to MTV.com, “If she was still with us, she would still be at the top. Because she always stayed pushing herself to be better.” Her movies and videos are a painful reminder of what could’ve been.

Rest In Peace Baby Girl, you were truly One In A Million.

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