Try Again (2000)
One of the most iconic tracks from Aaliyah. “Try Again” was a huge single which blew up worldwide. Written by Steve Garett and Timothy Mosley, aka Static Major and Timbaland, who also produced the track, they paid homage to Erik B and Rakim on the intro using the lyrics of the opening verse of “I Know You Got Soul.”
Age Ain’t Nothin But A Number (1994)
An Aaliyah track that has always been surrounded by controversy. This joint was written and produced by R. Kelly, for Aaliyah who recorded it at the age of 14. Relaying the sentiment of a young girl being in love with an older man, the song echoed the relationship that a teenage Aaliyah had with R. Kelly which eventually turned into an illegal, secret marriage that was shortly annulled upon discovery by her parents.
Look out for Bizarre and the late Proof in the video which was filmed in Detroit, Michigan.
One In A Million (1996)
Written by Missy Elliot and Timbaland, Aaliyah worked her magic beautifully on this classic RnB slow jam. The late singer was effortless on the track. The production on the single was considered to be ground-breaking at the time, thanks to Timbaland’s innovative work on the beat.
Back and Forth (1994)
A teenage Aaliyah showed off her swag in baggy jeans in this video filmed in Detroit. This track kick-started her career, and stormed the top of the charts.
Are You That Somebody (1998)
This still sounds so good 16 years later.
With two major figures that helped the success of Aaliyah’s music career, Timbaland and Static Major were once again the brains behind this track. You may remember that this song was also on the soundtrack to Dr. Dolittle, and earned Aaliyah her first Grammy nomination.
Just one of the tracks demonstrating her influence on many of today’s finest in hip-hop and RnB, Drake borrowed a line from this joint, “I gotta watch my back, ‘cause I’m not just anybody” on his verse in Young Money’s “Bed Rock”
Rock The Boat (2002)
"Rock The Boat" was officially released in January 2002, around 5 months after Aaliyah’s death.
This song had that perfect sexy summer vibe with Aaliyah’s silky vocals. The video is particularly memorable for THAT choreography on the boat.
The visual, which was directed by Hype Williams, was shot in the Bahamas. It was on the returning flight from there that we sadly lost the singer in an airplane crash.
If Your Girl Only Knew (1996)
The Brooklyn-born singer was no stranger to having cameos in her videos. On this one, watch out for 702, Missy Elliot, Lil’ Kim, Ginuwine, Timbaland, and her brother Rashad Haughton, who often made an appearance in his sister's videos.
I Don’t Wanna (2000)
At Your Best (You Are Love) (1994)
Getting old school here. The RnB singer covered this 1976 track from The Isley Brothers. You may recognize that the beginning of this track was used by big-time Aaliyah fan, Drake, on “Unforgettable”.
More Than A Woman (2001)
Aaliyah proved she was definitely more than woman with this hit, and always will be. The singer sports a sexy Chanel cat suit, on a motorcycle while giving us some dope moves.
This track was performed at Aaliyah’s last live performance which took place on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.
Hot Like Fire (1997)
From her One In A Million album, on “Hot Like Fire,” Aaliyah touched on waiting to get intimate in a relationship. Once again, the powerful duo of Timbaland and Missy Elliott were featured on this record.
Come Back In One Piece (2000) feat. DMX
DMX brings the roughness to this track as Aaliyah brings the soft beauty. The two had excellent chemistry together on the audio, as well as in the video, but considering the close relationship the two had, this is not so surprising.
Irv Gotti played a big role on production here as well as in the writing of the track together with the likes of Static Major and George Simmons.
Don’t Know What to Tell Ya (2003)
One of the singles released after the singer’s death from the album I Care 4 U, which actually didn’t make the cut to her Aaliyah album.
4 Page Letter (1997)
Aaliyah had the ability to not only create a club-vibe record, but ones you could just chill too, and more heartfelt RnB ballads. “4 Page Letter,” with its slow but sexy beat made Aaliyah a more than appropriate fit, as she sang about confessing her feelings to her love interest in a very long letter.
We Need A Resolution (2001)
A popular track from Aaliyah’s music from the noughties, with a music video that followed her usual pattern of sexy & futuristic, with dope dance choreography. She also handled some huge-ass snakes here.
Got To Give It Up (1997)
Aaliyah got on her dance vibe when she covered Marvin Gaye’s “Got To Give It Up”. The RnB superstar was able to make the track her own, with Slick Rick providing a verse or two on it.
Later in 2002, a new version of the song was included on her I Care 4 U album without Slick Rick’s verse.
Throw Your Hands Up (1994)
Aaliyah fused the perfect RnB sound with hip-hop in "Throw Your Hands Up," as we've already mentioned, this is something she would do often through out her career. This was definitely an appropriate track to blast in the whip (specifically a Jeep!) as mentioned by Aaliyah, “This is for the Jeeps, strictly for the Jeeps”. That particular line seems to have inspired Action Bronson's single titled "Strictly For My Jeeps."
Come Over (2003)
This song is likely to have been one of the last tracks that Aaliyah recorded which was included on her album I Care 4 U.
It’s pretty crazy to think how many of her newer songs were in circulation after her death, and were still garnering a lot of attention. Here, we heard her collaborate with singer Tank.
Down With The Clique (1995) feat. R. Kelly
Featuring Kelz on the track, a young Aaliyah asked who was down with her clique. Despite some controversial records from Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number, Aaliyah was still able to be a young, free teenager, with music on the album about hitting the club and chilling with homies.
Miss You (2002)
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning this track.
“Miss You” was the perfect tribute to Baby Girl. The song was actually recorded by Aaliyah for her third self-titled studio album, but was never released by her.
The video features so many of her closest industry friends including DMX, Missy, Lil’ Kim, Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, Montel Williams and Rosario Dawson. The visuals sum up how she was loved by so many as her friends wear her merchandise, and clips of her older videos were mixed in.
HNHH remembers Aaliyah on what would have been her 35th birthday today.
13 years ago, Aaliyah was tragically killed in a plane crash at the tender age of 22 when returning from the Bahamas after shooting the video for “Rock The Boat.” Her death deeply affected her fans and the hip-hop community at large.
Aaliyah made a name for herself in R&B and hip-hop producing hit upon hit, often blending the two genres together-- something we see a lot of in present day. Her career was aided by Timbaland, the late Static Major and Missy Elliot who helped write and produce many of her tracks. But it was Aaliyah's strength as an entertainer and her originality which made her music so successful. Her beauty, her subtle sweet voice, her dope dance sequences, and her traditional hip-hop style (baggy pants and bandanas were the go-to), were all signature aspects of Aaliyah.
The Princess of R&B continues to have a huge influence on today’s music. Drizzy Drake is often caught citing her as a big inspiration, borrowing samples from her music and at one point was even in talks to work on a posthumous release with her. Chris Brown also has included samples of Aaliyah on his tracks, collaborating with her on his recent single "Don't Think They Know."