One In A Million (One In A Million, 1996)
Aaliyah's 1996 sophomore album One In A Million found the seventeen-year-old singer working with the songwriting team of Timbaland and Missy Elliott, who together cowrote half of the songs on the album. These collabs included the singles "Hot Like Fire," "If Your Girl Only Knew," and "4 Page Letter," but the most effective was the immersive slow jam "One In A Million." While it didn't reach the chart heights of first single "If Your Girl Only Knew," its busy drum programming and futuristic feel laid the blueprint for Aaliyah's later work with Timbaland. Aaliyah's delicate coos had found their natural resting place.
5 Classic Aaliyah x Timbaland Collaborations
One In A Million (One In A Million, 1996)
Are You That Somebody? (Dr. Dolittle OST, 1998)
Back when movie soundtracks were producing true classics, the Dr. Dolittle OST gave us one of Aaliyah's most memorable tracks. As Missy Elliott began to focus more on her solo career, Aaliyah found another prime collaborator in Static Major, who cowrote the song with Timbaland, pairing Aaliyah's whispery falsetto with a punchy synth string plucks. Timbaland also provided his own vocals to the song, contrasting Aaliyah's masterful performance with a rapped bridge and some call-and-response ad-libs. Their chemistry brought the song to the top of the R&B charts and 21 on the Hot 100.
Try Again (Romeo Must Die: The Album, 2000)
A year-and-a-half after "Are You That Somebody" (and a few months after "I Don't Wanna" appeared on the Next Friday soundtrack), Aaliyah and Timbaland teamed up for the Romeo Must Die single "Try Again." The track became Aaliyah's highest charting song, hitting #1 on the Hot 100. Once again, Static Major contributed to the track, proving his chemistry with Aaliyah and Timbaland was no fluke, and continuing to work with the two throughout Aaliyah's self-titled follow-up. Timbaland's synths grew buzzier and his arrangements filled with more moving parts. Meanwhile, Aaliyah's vocals were more confident and rhythmic, making for a track that was as forward-thinking as it was accessible
We Need A Resolution (Aaliyah, 2001)
The opening track on Aaliyah's self-titled album, "We Need A Resolution," is Aaliyah and Timbaland at their most experimental and complexly-structured, but once again, shaping their many ideas to fit cleanly within a catchy pop single. Aaliyah performs her own call-and-response vocals as she mimics the slithering synth riff, as well as countering a chopped-up ascending clarinet sample. Snare claps and beatboxing fill in the gaps, all of which would not hold together if it were not for Aaliyah's weighty vocal performance.
More Than A Woman (Aaliyah, 2001)
"More Than A Woman," was the final single and final performance from Aaliyah before her death in an August 2001 plane crash. The single was nominated for Best Female R&B Performance at the 45th Annual Grammys and reached number 59 on the Hot 100. The addition of horn stabs to the funky guitar-line give the song a triumphant feel, but perhaps its best moment comes in the short-lived bridge in which Aaliyah's falsetto breaks through and contributes the most unique and memorable melody within the song -- "Do you wanna roll with me?" she coos, a turnaround that only lasts a few bars, but one that illustrates her incomparable presence so effectively it seems to last a lifetime.
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Revisit some of Aaliyah's most influential songs in honor of her 38th birthday.
Aaliyah would have been 38 years old today, and there's no better way to remember the irreplaceable singer on such a day then to dive back into her influential and timeless musical catalog. While there are many interesting pockets of the late R&B star's body of work, we're looking at one of the more obvious, but still very special collaborative relationships. Timbaland worked with Aaliyah throughout her two most celebrated projects, 1996's One In A Million and 2001's Aaliyah, creating (often with the help of Missy Elliott and Static Major) songs that would stand as the defining moments of both artists' careers. Today, we're looking at some of the most classic songs in their repertoire -- which while not giving us the entire spectrum of their collaborative work, are undeniably some of their most beloved tracks. Click through the galleries to revisit five innovative songs that continue to influence R&B and pop to this day.