Given the fact that the 90’s urban pop goddess Aaliyah is still revered in the 2010’s, the world of pop culture was thrust into quite a tizzy when rumors of another posthumous album hit the internetz a few weeks ago. The late singer’s untimely and now infamous death via plane crash in July 2001 broke hearts around the world, robbing them of a performer whose music defined a very specific and popular sub-genre of hip-hop in the late 1990’s. Needless to say, support for once again delving into the Aaliyah archives would be widespread, particularly given the success of I Care 4 U and Ultimate Aaliyah released in 2002 and 2005, respectively. However, buzz surrounding the recent news has turned from being about the album itself to who is behind it, and by that I am referring to the one and only Drake (aliases: Drizzy, Aubrey Graham, Jimmy Brooks, etc.) This piece is really just a brief letter to the former Degrassi heartthrob, which expresses my feelings about his role in the forthcoming album, shared with Canadian producer Noah “40” Shebib, is simply a farce.
Dear Drake, the fact that you are co-executive producing Aaliyah’s next posthumous album makes me quite uncomfortable and the following points are just a few of the reasons why. I know how sensitive you are, so I’ll try to be nice. But I’m not making any promises.
1.) Your credibility--Let’s look at the facts: not only were you 7 years old when Aaliyah’s first album came out, but also you’ve only been in the music game yourself for 6 years. I know that Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number (pun intended), however I just don’t think you have the musical pedigree that one should have to have in order to properly pay homage to the 90’s legend. That being said, one thing I would like to know is how you usurped this role from talented producers such as R. Kelly, Missy Elliot, and Timbaland who have not only been in the game longer, but actually knew and worked with Aaliyah prior to her death?
2.) Your attitude--This one’s pretty straightforward. I mean c’mon, isn’t it a little insensitive to have the champion of the oh-so-nauseating “YOLO” mentality behind this album? Seems a little contradictory to me that the guy responsible for this video is going to be providing the heart and soul of the tribute album. You’ve noted in interviews how much of an inspiration Aaliyah has been in your own music and I don’t doubt that, however I think it might be best for you to just continue channeling your energies into something like your Chris Brown feud over Rihanna and let someone else worry about immortalizing our past music icons. That being said, stop getting Aaliyah related tattoos. Just stop.
3.) Your hip-hop styles conflict--Let’s take the recently released track “Enough Said” as an example here. From Aaliyah we get the beautiful, nostalgic voice singing lyrics about a desire for real intimacy creating an almost ethereal sound on the track. That somehow gets paired with your rap about how trying it is to be famous...really? Case in point: “Every million I gain an enemy or a cousin.” WHAT does that have to do with this song at all? I’m sorry that you’re getting incredibly wealthy. Must be really difficult. Gah. Anyway, I can appreciate the production of the song, but if that’s what we have to look forward to with this collaboration I’d say just work on your own albums/mixtapes and leave the Aaliyah archives alone.
All that being said, I would wager that the album will boast a pretty solid production value, and again, I don’t doubt that you have been heavily influenced and inspired by what Aaliyah did in hip-hop. My feelings are more so coming from a place that says posthumous albums are already risky in a lot of ways and putting someone with a one-noted and brief musical background at the helm makes me a little too nervous. Dear Drake, while your intentions may be good you know what they say about the road to hell.
(Piece originally published on In Our Words.)
© 2012 GOWHERE — All Rights Reserved
"Love does not dominate; it cultivates."