Aaliyah’s Music is Coming To Streaming But Is It Ethical?

‘90s & 2000s kids this one’s for you. 

Hey it’s your ‘90s aunty back at it again taking you on a trip through the wayback machine. 

We all know the incredible music of one Ms. Aaliyah Haughton or Baby Girl as we know her as, one of the Queens of the ‘90s. She had the bops back in the day & after everything that happened with her first album (which we don’t claim minus a song or two) she hooked up with Tim & Missy and made three of the best albums of the ‘90s. Her music videos were on point & she could sing & dance her face off. Sadly we all know that on August 25th, 2001 Baby Girl tragically died due to a plane crash coming from the Bahamas after filming her music video for “Rock The Boat”. She was 22 years old. 

This year 2021 will be 20 years since she passed & for a while I saw no fanfare for the artist from music award shows, social media or anything. Nothing was planned until a few days ago. If you have been keeping up with everything you know that for over 15 years Aaliyah’s music has not been on streaming services or been able to buy online. You can’t even find 4K renderings of her music videos on Youtube unless done by a fan. And that is thanks to one man, her uncle Barry Hankerson. Now Barry Hankerson is the owner of Blackground Records & who housed many different artists including JoJo, Timbaland & Magoo, Tank for a couple albums, Toni Braxton for an album and others. All of these artist albums have been locked in a volt for over 15 years & not allowed to be put out into the public which is making the artist no money off the records. 

For artists like JoJo specifically who was in her prime as a young artist this was a big blow to her career to the point where she was in a bad contract with Blackground where she wasn’t allowed to release music for 10+ years. She just within the last 4 to 5 years released albums again after only releasing two albums as a young kid/teen in 2004 & 2006. JoJo went through a whole eating disorder & a depression during this time & I am so glad that we get to experience JoJo’s music again. She in 2018 re-recorded her albums from back then so people could listen to them & she could make money off of them. 

Check out this video for more info & to hear JoJo’s story:    

And don’t even get me started on Tim & Magoo & how we never got more music from them. That’s why we got those two pretty trash albums after Tim got out of his contract which was sad because he wanted to be not just a producer but an artist as well & those records don’t represent Tim well at all with all that pop (minus that Keri Helson song). 

Anyway as of this week Blackground Records decided to start up social media pages on IG & Twitter which sparked some excitement by many OG Aaliyah fans. Then Blackground put it out there that they would be releasing Aayliah’s music on the internet & on streaming services starting on August 20th. The fans who have been campaigning & begging for her music to be put on streaming services hard work paid off but at what cost. 

Apparently Aaliyah’s Estate is pissed at Blackground Records & for good reason. For over 20 years her Estate/Mom/Brother Rashad have been trying to get the rights to Aayliah’s catalog so her music could be released properly and the money could go into her Estate. So when they found out Barry was trying to release her music they were definitely not here for it. They released a statement on Rashad’s IG stating how they didn’t agree with the decision. On top of that JoJo also tweeted telling her fans that if they love her they will not listen to those two albums when they come out & will listen to her re-recorded versions as those will give her money & the original ones won’t. 

Now as a fan what do you do? In the JoJo situation it’s easy to just listen to the re-records or listen to the OG versions on YouTube like we have been for so many years. But with Aaliyah it is different. Unless you were an OG fan when Aaliyah was still alive & you purchased a CD or even bootleg the albums off Limewire or other file sharing sites back in the day there is no other way you would have been able to listen to her music. Now thanks to a few really dedicated fans who love Aaliyah so much some people have uploaded the albums to Youtube and even uploaded her music videos on the internet. But as we have come to see over the past 10 years streaming services are just so convenient. To be able to just have over a million songs on one little app at your fingertips & all you have to do is pay like 10 bucks for it is a pretty good deal for us fans. So adding Aaliyah’s music to it just makes sense right? It helps us old fans reminisce on the good old days & where we were when she was still alive & this music first came out but also she will be reintroduced to a whole new generation who can finally understand the blueprint for all their female R&B artists today. Because I still believe had she not been killed she would have been on top of the world right now because she was headed that way. 

So Aaliyah is coming to streaming great but is it ethical? Should we support our over 15+ year desire to listen to Aaliyah’s music again or should we take the moral high ground & not listen to it till Barry & her family come to an agreement? And what do Missy & Timbo think? All vald questions that I guess as a fan you just have to make up your mind for yourself. As for me I wanna take the moral high ground so much in this situation but it’s Aaliyah guys. I don’t get overly sad about celebrities’ deaths but Aaliyah hit home for me. For one she was so beautiful & her music was so well done & for anyone to take a chance on two producers/writers/artists from VA you had to be ok in my book. Aaliyah was just special from the way she dressed, not too sexy but not too tomboy, just the right amount of glam, to her singing voice to her incredible dancing. Baby Girl really captivated my heart as a young girl & to this day I admire her even more. I read up on the death conspiracies, I want her to get justice in the R-Kelly stuff (even though her mom was trying to get in the way of that), I want her legacy to be remembered not as a shotty offensive made for TV movie but the real human she was. She was a young Black girl who was taken advantage of in the industry early on but through all the adversity & pain she became tromphent & was a superstar making albums, music videos dancing better than her background dancers sometimes lol, & starring in movies. She was a real role model for my generation of young Black girls growing up & I see her influence everywhere in the media today.

Will I personally be listening to Aaliyah’s music come August 20th? I wanna say no but once it drops my 9 year old self might take over & it’s a wrap. But hey nobody is perfect & those who have strong will, good for you but in the long run is the money more important than her legacy? Never. So I’m pointing all this information out so fans can make up their own minds but also it’s good to stay aware. I hope her family gets it together & does what is best for Aaliyah which is letting her fans & new fans connect to her music. 

https://www.vulture.com/2021/08/aaliyah-catalog-streaming-services-details.html

https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/9610793/aaliyah-music-return-streaming-services-blackground-empire/

https://www.complex.com/music/aaliyah-discography-to-be-released-on-streaming-services/

We love you & miss you Baby Girl & we will forever be proud of all you accomplished in life & keep your legacy alive. 

PS Are You That Somebody is Top Tier Maybe #1 in my book. 1998 was sure good us boy YES!                      

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