Aaliyah Topped the Charts on the Anniversary of Her Death, Proving Her Music Still Matters

Aaliyah Topped the Charts on the Anniversary of Her Death, Proving Her Music Still Matters
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

On Tuesday, the Internet celebrated two of the most important anniversaries in modern R&B: The release of Lauryn Hill's game-changing The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and the 14th anniversary of Aaliyah's death. 

In the years since the tragic plane crash that took Aaliyah's life in 2001, her legacy has been analyzed from every angle. Writers have questioned whether or not someone who died so young at age 22, who released so few albums, could be considered a "legend," or whether her impact remains relevant to today's music.

Aaliyah's fans answered that question. On Tuesday, her 1996 "One in a Million" vaulted all the way to No. 1 on Billboard's Twitter Realtime Trending 140 chart and held a spot in the top 10 for several hours. The Princess of R&B still has attendants in her throne room.

Source: Mic/YouTube

This is how Aaliyah deserves to remembered — not through the salacious aspects of her life that have been repeatedly sensationalized since her death. Last year's Lifetime movie Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B was made without the consent of her family or close collaborators. The network didn't even bother to get the rights to Aaliyah's catalog, and only included a few of her early cuts and some covers — no "One In A Million," no "4 Page Letter," no "More Than a Woman." 

These are what made the artist a legend. Not the plane crash, her rumored illegal marriage to R. Kelly or rumored engagement to record executive Damon Dash.

Source: YouTube

Instead, Aaliyah should be remembered as the R&B legend she is. 

She was the muse of two of hip-hop's most influential producers, Missy Elliot and Timbaland. She's influenced a wide range of today's most visible artists, including Rihanna, J. Cole and Drake. She changed the game for style in hip-hop, making it acceptable for female artists to have a bit of tomboy swagger in their image.

"She combined sexy, classy, cool, singing, dancing, and acting," R&B singer Tank, who worked with Aaliyah on her last, posthumously released album, told Complex in 2012. "Aaliyah made it possible to do all these things at the highest level. She's still what women in this industry aspire to be: a total threat. She was leading the charge at that point for urban and pop females. The question is would these females have as much room as they have to operate if baby girl was still here? My answer is 'No.'"

The most difficult tragedy is how little we got to hear of it. Gossip should never be allowed to obscure her music's importance. 

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Tom Barnes

Tom Barnes is a senior staff writer at Mic focused on music, activism and the intersection between the two. He's based in New York and can be reached at tom@mic.com.

MORE FROM

‘Girls Trip’ finishes second at the box office, outperforming expectations

The film's success once again demonstrates how diverse films are underestimated at the box office.

‘Insecure’ season two is television for us, by us — and it’s even better than before

Creator Issa Rae shouldn't sweat the Emmy snub — her connection with her core audience is what really makes this series shine.

We talked to military experts about who will win the Iron Throne

Does Dany have a chance? Historians, tacticians and scholars weigh in on the ultimate outcome of 'Game of Thrones.'

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7, Episode 2 Trailer: New alliances may form in “Stormborn”

Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen may have an unexpected intermediary.

Tyler, the Creator is still a “walking paradox” on the rumor-baiting ‘Flower Boy’

Is he queer? Maybe. Does he know how to use the speculation to further his art? Definitely.

Note to Ryan Murphy: ‘American Horror Story’ reveals don’t need to be a scavenger hunt

The title and premiere date of the seventh season of 'American Horror Story' were revealed Thursday.

‘Girls Trip’ finishes second at the box office, outperforming expectations

The film's success once again demonstrates how diverse films are underestimated at the box office.

‘Insecure’ season two is television for us, by us — and it’s even better than before

Creator Issa Rae shouldn't sweat the Emmy snub — her connection with her core audience is what really makes this series shine.

We talked to military experts about who will win the Iron Throne

Does Dany have a chance? Historians, tacticians and scholars weigh in on the ultimate outcome of 'Game of Thrones.'

‘Game of Thrones’ Season 7, Episode 2 Trailer: New alliances may form in “Stormborn”

Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen may have an unexpected intermediary.

Tyler, the Creator is still a “walking paradox” on the rumor-baiting ‘Flower Boy’

Is he queer? Maybe. Does he know how to use the speculation to further his art? Definitely.

Note to Ryan Murphy: ‘American Horror Story’ reveals don’t need to be a scavenger hunt

The title and premiere date of the seventh season of 'American Horror Story' were revealed Thursday.