Aaliyah

Aaliyah
Aaliyah (click images to enlarge)
$39.44
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Aaliyah

Seven years after her debut at just 15 years old, Aaliyah assembled a third studio album that was astonishingly mature. Sadly, her death just a little over a month after its release stilled a promising voice in R&B. At 22, when most artists would just be getting started, Aaliyah had already progressed from pop to street to an unconventional retro-modern, risk-taking version of R&B. While lead track "We Need a Resolution" is as mainstream as it gets, there are fewer hits on this album than on previous efforts. Instead, this collection is an extraordinary romantic exposition of passion and pain. While Missy Elliott is cranking out jams for all her "club freaks," Aaliyah is like a modern-day (if less vocally gifted) Minnie Riperton, exploring the pains of moving from child star to adult sex symbol. Tracks such as "Never No More" and "I Care 4 U" (featuring Missy) are slinky, twisted ballads imbued with film-noir sultriness, as diva Aaliyah steps catlike away from the bubblegum R&B of her contemporaries. There's also the obligatory rock track tacked on near the end ("I Can Be"), but even this excels above the standard hip-hop/rock/R&B crossover fare with its Prince-like influences coupled with Aaliyah's own instinct for seduction. Aaliyah also signaled a move away from her long-standing musical relationship with producer Timbaland, who contributes just three cuts. Having started out heavily supported by R. Kelly, it appeared that Aaliyah was more than able to go it alone. --Jake Barnes

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