Alia’s music will finally be streaming. What took so long?

Over the years, this has been one of the music’s most conspicuous, and enigmatic, absences: most of Aaliyah’s catalogue, R&B singers from the 1990s and early 2000s, has been absent from digital services – renderings of one of the works. The most influential pop stars in recent decades have been largely invisible, depriving them of a proper legacy. The singer, whose full name was Alia Houghton, died in a plane crash in 2001 At the age of 22.

But on Thursday a shocking case came Announcement That his music would soon reach the streaming platform, starting with his second album, “One in a Million” (1996), on August 20.

fan, including cardi b, celebrated online. But Aaliyah’s musical comeback remains difficult, with a battle still raging between her assets and the music impresario, who signed her on as a teenager and retained control of the bulk of her catalogue. Here’s an overview of their long unavailability on the services that dominate music consumption today.

Producer Founded Blackground Records Barry Hankerson — Aaliyah’s uncle — said it would re-release 17 albums from its catalog on streaming services as well as on CD and vinyl over the next two months. These include the bulk of Aaliyah’s output – from her studio albums “One in a Million” and “Aaliyah”, the “Romeo Must Die” soundtracks and two posthumous collections as well as albums by Timbaland, Toni Braxton, JoJo and Tank.

The release, being done through a distribution deal with independent music company Empire, will introduce a new generation to Aaliyah’s work. In the 1990s, she emerged as a powerful voice in the emerging sound of hip-hop: an outspoken young woman—she was just 15 when she released her first album, “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number”. (1994) – who sang like a street-smart angel on some of the most innovative backing tracks of the time.

Kelefa Saneh of The New York Times wrote in one, “Where most of the day insists on being the center of the song.” Appreciate In 2001, “she knew how to disappear into music, how to match her voice to the bass line—sometimes it’s hard to tell one from the other.”

Hankerson is an elusive, powerful and divisive figure in the music business. He was once married to Gladys Knight, and later married R. Searched for and managed Kelly. They made Blackground one of the most successful black music companies of their time, but they clashed with artists. Braxton, JoJo and others have sued the label, with Braxton accusing Hankerson of “fraud, deception and double-dealing”, according to a 2016 article on the music site Complex titled “The inexplicable online absence of Aaliyah’s best music

In 1991, Hankerson introduced his 12-year-old niece to Kelly, who was twice his age. Kelly, then a rising singer, songwriter and producer, would become the primary force shaping Aaliyah’s early career, writing and producing much of her material and making Aaliyah a part of her crew.

It later emerged that Kelly had secretly married Aaliyah in 1994, when he was 15 and she was 27. In the criminal case Kelly now faces in Brooklyn — which is set to begin jury selection next week — prosecutors have alleged That Kelly had bribed an Illinois government employee to obtain a fake ID for Aaliyah at the time, which stated her age as 18. Their marriage was annulled.

When Hankerson moved distribution of Blackground releases from the Jive label to Atlantic in the mid-90s, Aaliyah began working with two young songwriter-producers from Virginia: Timbaland and Missy Elliot. Their first collaboration, “One in a Million” (1996), went double platinum and spawned the hit singles “If Your Girl Only Knows” and “The One I Give My Heart To”.

By the time Aaliyah died, she was on a big career path. But as the music business evolved into the digital age, and Blackground’s production slowed, his music largely disappeared.

Apart from the album “Edge Ain’t Nothing But a Number”, which remained part of the Jive catalog via Sony Music, and a few other tracks, most of Alia’s songs are not available for streaming. CDs and LPs of his work eye-catching prices.

His influence remains, although sometimes it is more imagined than real. Last month, singer Normani released a song, “wild side,” with Cardi B, in which many fans thought Aaliyah was a sampler of the drum brake. (Billboard said that was not the case, although Hankerson where is It would be his blessing anyway.) And interest in his story was inspired by the 2019 documentary “Surviving R. Kelly,” which delved deeply into their relationship.

Although the streaming catalog has almost reached the completion level of the “celestial jukebox” that has long been predicted, there are a few other notable absences. De La Soul’s Early Work, including its classic 1989 debut “3 Feet High End Rising”, is not online, apparently due to problems cleaning the samples. (the new owners of that music have resolved to provide, although no concrete plans have emerged.)

Exactly the reason for the current release of Alia’s music is unclear.

According to a new article in BoardAbout a year ago, Hankerson struck a new deal for her music after Aaliyah’s estate secret declaration That “communication has begun” between the property and “various record labels” about finally getting her music online. “More updates to come,” it said.

But the property does not control Aaliyah’s recordings; Hankerson does this through his ownership of the Blackground label. For months, fans have followed more mysterious confessions from the estate, including an in. also includes January, what would have been Alia’s 42nd birthday, that “these matters are not under our control.”

When Blackgrounds announced its resale plans, the property responded with another confusing statement, saying that for 20 years it had been a “shady strategy of deceit with respect to unauthorized projects aimed at sabotaging,” Still “sorry” and expressed a desire to move. Feather.

A more straightforward explanation of what’s going on behind the scenes comes from an attorney for the property, Paul V. came from LeCalci, who said: “For nearly 20 years, Blackground has failed to account for the property with any regularity according to its recording contract. Furthermore, the property was not yet aware of the catalog’s imminent release.” until the deal was completed and the plans were in place.”

Billboard responded, citing a representative for Blackgrounds as saying that the property “will receive everything it deserves” and that royalties were paid out earlier this year.

For fans, behind-the-scenes battles matter less than music finally becoming available online

“Baby Girl Coming to Spotify,” Service announced With a picture of Alia on Twitter. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time.”

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