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    Related Artists - TLC, Rhianna, Salt n Pepa
    Related Genres - Hip-Hop

    Age Ain't Nothing But A Number ( 1994 )
    Intro / Throw Your Hands Up / Back & Forth / Age Ain't Nothing but a Number / Down with the Clique / At Your Best (You Are Love) / No One Knows How to Love Me Quite like You Do / I'm So Into You / Street Thing / Young Nation / Old School / I'm Down / Back & Forth (Mr. Lee & R. Kelly Remix)

    R Kelly was a guy releasing singles such as 'Sex Me' and 'Bump N Grind' and was a guy hired by a plethora of acts to be their producer/musical director. A youthful Aaliyah, still at college, was one of said acts whom apprarently benefitted from his touch. 'Age Ain't Nothing But A Number' let's remember was released when Aaliyah was a mere 15 years old. R Kelly's muse is all over this thing, the beats are solid if unspectacular. The vocals meanwhile are another matter. When allowed the space, 'Aaliyah's' voice sounds mature beyond her years while also being very fresh and soulful. A good thing though about just having a single writer/producer ( R Kelly ) is that the album presents a cohesive sound. Credit to R Kelly for also mixing it up enough between the soul ballads and the more uptempo cuts. Ignoring the more dated segments of the album, eg, 'No One Knows How To Love Me Quite Like You Do', Aaliyah manages to shine as a talent, which is just as well, otherwise the album may have sunk without a trace when it was first released. The music alone would not have been innovative or striking enough to stand out with an average kind of singer/performer out the front.Aaliyah fares best with the slower/mid-tempo tunes. As mentioned previously, something like 'No One Knows How To Love Me' sounds slightly dated due to the clear hip-hop-isms.

    Two songs from this set were Billboard hit songs. 'Back & Forth' and 'At Your Best'. 'Back & Forth' has a strong hook through the chorus but otherwise is very safe, average r'n'b material. 'At Your Best' is a ballad production that showcases the vocals of Aaliyah to good effect, proof that she had some good talent there, very soulful voice amidst subtle beats and slow grooves. The albums title track meanwhile is perhaps the best song here. It opens with tinkling Piano before the beats kick in, bass very noticeable lending Aaliyah a bit of genuine groove to work with for one of the few times across the albums 13 tracks. Overall this is an album that does little wrong, although the lack of distinctiveness is too overbearing for the album to be anything other than a pleasant diversion.

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    One In A Million 7 ( 1996 )
    Beats 4 da Streets (Intro) / Hot Like Fire / One in a Million / A Girl Like You / If Your Girl Only Knew / Choosey Lover (Old School / New School) / Got to Give It Up / 4 Page Letter / Everything's Gonna Be Alright / Giving You More / I Gotcha' Back / Never Givin' Up / Heartbroken / Never Comin' Back / Ladies In Da House / The One I Gave My Heart To / Came To Give Love (Outro)

    This was an important breakthrough album, not only for Aaliyah, but also for Timbaland and Missy Elliot who had important writing and/or producer roles to help establish their careers as well as that of Aaliyah herself, of course. 'One in a Million', 'Hot Like Fire', 'The One I Gave My Heart To', 'If Your Girl Only Knew', and '4 Page Letter' were the singles this time out helping to propel the album to ten million sales plus worldwide. The sound of the album is notable for the more percussive style of Timbaland's beats as opposed to the more laid-back R Kelly production of her debut disc. Although Timbaland's beat are relatively sparse, they are always going on around in different directions. Other musical touches such as some twinkling lights here, some odd percussion there help flesh out and decorate the overall sound. It's a good production this album benefits from. So, the singles this time out, then? 'Hot Like Fire' is first up, a slow tune with sensual vocals. 'One In A Million' presents a late night style groove with quiet Aaliyah vocals over Timbaland patented percussive beats. 'If Your Girl Only Knew' is a little funkier with actual bass grooves although doesn't really manage to rise above the r'n'b herd. '4 Page Letter' sports very fine Aaliyah vocals, very clear and the vocal arrangements, no doubt by Missy Elliot are very fine as well. Finally, 'The One I Have My Heart To' sees Aaliyah in ballad mode, going for the Whitney/Mariah territory, advisedly or not.

    Highlights? Well, we want a few uptempo numbers to dance to, don't we? 'Got To Give It Up' uses the opening beat from Michael Jackson's 'Billie Jean', just that first beat. That a single beat could be so distinctive is miraculous, really. Aaliyah turns in a sexy performance vocally and this is good stuff. This aforementioned track is also one of the better moments here and possibly the best of the singles pulled from the set. There is not a lot more to say, to be honest. Slightly more consistent in quality than her debut, 'One In A Million' is packed with solid songs, yet just lacks those one or two moments of genuine class to spark a higher rating and to make this any kind of essential set. Still, she was still very. very young at this stage.

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    Aaliyah 8 ( 2001 )
    We Need a Resolution / Loose Rap / Rock the Boat / More Than a Woman / Never No More / I Care 4 U / Extra Smooth / Read Between the Lines / U Got Nerve / I Refuse / It's Whatever / I Can Be / Those Were the Days / What If

    She died following a fatal plane crash, August 25th, 2001, cutting short what was becoming an increasingly promising career. 'Aaliyah' was hailed as her most mature album yet. Produced by Rapture & E.Seats with additional production from Timbaland and Static among others, it again went onto sell in excess of ten million copies worldwide. 'More Than A Woman' you'll know, a squelchy, sexy slice of modern pop music that is utterly harmless. It may not be any great piece of art, but this type of music entertained a hell of a lot of people circa 2000, so all is well. Aaliyah was becoming a major player, not just in the US but also in the UK. I remember that song being all over the radio. Then again, it had been released post death and did reach number one in the singles charts over here. Elsewhere on the album, the mid-tempo tunes now are more noticeable for her vocals in every single case that whatever beats are present. Her voice had matured and she had a couple of more tricks up her sleeve. 'Never No More', for instance. Close your eyes and you can almost imagine a young Diana Ross being the vocalist. High praise, indeed. 'I Care 4 You' came from Missy Elliot, was released as a single and smokes soulful grooves for breakfast. It casts Aaliyah in a slightly nostalgic light, harking back to soul singers of the early Seventies, late Sixties. It's possibly my favourite song here.

    The vocal arrangement on 'Those Were The Days' is so smooth and the production reminds me, not unnaturally, of certain Kelis material. Aaliyah was nailing the more uptempo material better than before and that's the main advantage this album has over the songs she presented on her first couple of LPs. 'You Got Nerve' for instance has an appropriately nervous shifting beat that moves the song forwards whilst Aaliyah turns in another sexy, sensual performance. 'I Refuse' is another classy song, this time seeing Aaliyah in Alicia Keys territory whilst also presenting wonderful vocal harmonies and arrangements and a tune that still sounds modern in the ever changing R'n'B world, even today. 'Aaliyah' is an album with more genuinely good moments than either of her previous LPs and her death was untimely to say the least. Good stuff, this album, good stuff.

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    this page last updated 29/12/07

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