Aaliyah’s Estate Rocks The Boat, Will Finally Release Music To Streaming Services

Aaliyah’s music will finally be available on streaming services and in print.
A handful of Aaliyah’s albums will make their Spotify debut beginning Aug. 20, after years of contention between her estate and Blackground Records — founded by her uncle Barry Hankerson — over releasing the singer’s music, according to Billboard.
Hankerson has landed a new partnership with EMPIRE, an independent Bay Area-based music company that will make the entire Blackground catalog — consisting of 17 albums by artists including Aaliyah, Timbaland & Magoo, Tank, Toni Braxton, and JoJo — available in both physical and digital form for the first time in a decade.
On Wednesday, in response to the news, the Aaliyah Haughton estate took to social media to address what they call “unauthorized projects.”
“Protecting Aaliyah’s legacy is, and will always be our focus. For 20 years we have battled behind the scenes, enduring shadowy tactics of deception with unauthorized projects targeted to tarnish,” the statement read. “We have always been confused as to why there is such a tenacity in causing more pain alongside what we already have to cope with for the rest of our lives.”
“Now, in this 20th year, this unscrupulous endeavor to release Aaliyah’s music without any transparency or full accounting to the estate compels our hearts to express a word – forgiveness,” the statement continued, adding that the only thing they ask is for “closure” and peace.”
Fans are now calling for the estate to simply release the singer’s music catalog.
The only Aaliyah album that is currently available on streaming platforms is her 1994 debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number, produced by R. Kelly.
Kelly is currently in a pre-trial hearing outlining how he illegally wed an underage Aaliyah in 1994 when the singer was just 15 as he awaits his federal sex-trafficking trial, USA Today reported. Since an R. Kelly-produced work was previously the only Aaliyah album available for stream, many fans who did not want to condone an alleged sex offender caught themselves in a dilemma.
Matt Middleton, an attorney for Blackground, reiterated how significant Aaliyah’s music is to her fans, as she is undoubtedly one of the biggest artists with music that was not available on streaming services.
“With Aaliyah, those albums were iconic and that was the franchise, but there were also some very important other albums in the catalog as well, and there was a whole generation of fans who didn’t have access to it,” Matt Middleton said. “If you go back, every year in January around Aaliyah’s birthday, around August when it’s the anniversary of her passing, there’s an overwhelming urge in the media and online around Aaliyah’s music and fans wanting to hear her music.”
Despite Aaliyah being only 22 years old when she died in a fatal plane crash near the Bahamas on Aug. 25, 2001, her legacy has continued to endure for the last two decades.
“All you have to do is ask some of the biggest current R&B artists where they got their influence from, and I don’t think there are many interviews where you wouldn’t hear Aaliyah’s name mentioned in some sort of fashion, whether it was the songs, or her fashion sense, or the general spirit that she had,” Nima Etminan, COO of EMPIRE said.
“I remember being a kid and getting together with friends to try to catch the ‘Try Again’ video on MTV and just watching it over and over. I think she stood for something that she didn’t even have to say explicitly — you just kind of felt it in her spirit and her soul,” she added.
As anticipation builds for the first release in just 15 days, EMPIRE CEO Ghaizi said it’s going to be an “emotional” moment.
“It’s going to be a pretty emotional moment for a lot of people — it’s emotional for me to think about it,” EMPIRE CEO Ghazi said. “Every modern-day R&B artist has a little bit of Aaliyah in them, just like every NBA player has a little Michael Jordan in them. Reintroducing this to her fans is probably one of the greatest things we’ve ever done as a company, if not the greatest.”
Aaliyah’s 1996 album, One In A Million, kicks off the releases on Aug. 20, followed by the Romeo Must Die soundtrack on Sept. 3, Aaliyah on Sept. 10, and lastly, the singer’s posthumous compilation album, I Care 4 U on Oct. 8.

UNITED KINGDOM – FEBRUARY 01: Photo of AALIYAH (Photo by Sal Idriss/Redferns)

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