It’s almost been exactly 20 years since Aaliyah, full name Aaliyah Dana Haughton died tragically in a plane crash. Since her death, it’s been impossible to stream any of her albums aside from “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number” (but considering it was written and executive produced by R. Kelly who married the singer at 15, it comes with a layer of ickiness). That is, until now. Over the next 2 months Spotify will be releasing Aaliyah’s iconic catalog starting with One in a Million on August 20th, and ending with I Care 4 U and Ultimate Aaliyah on October 8. The streaming platform shared a photo of the beautiful singer with the caption, “Baby Girl is coming to Spotify 🙏.” “Could cry. Can’t wait for people to rediscover her discography,” one user wrote in the comments.
Aaliyah’s fans may be happy about its release, but her estate isn’t. There has been a quiet battle behind the scenes between her estate and Barry Hankerson, her uncle and founder of the label Blackground Records, which owns all of her masters. Hankerson told Billboard “There was a conversation we had that (Diane Haughton, Aaliyah’s mother) didn’t want the music out, and whatever my sister told me, I tried to do what she wanted me to do.” He continued, “As a parent, I would understand if she did not want the music out. Because who wants to hear the voice of your daughter who’s gone? So when she said that to me, I said, ‘OK, we’re not putting it out. I don’t know when, but one day we will.’”
Per USA Today, Aaliyah‘s estate on behalf of her mother, Diane Haughton, and her brother, Rashad Haughton responded to the deal in a statement through attorney Paul LiCalsi and said it was “not made aware” of the streaming release of the late singer’s catalog. “For almost 20 years, Blackground has failed to account to the Estate with any regularity in accordance with her recording contracts. In addition, the Estate was not made aware of the impending release of the catalog until after the deal was complete and plans were in place. The Estate has demanded that Blackground provide a full account of its past earnings, and full disclosure of the terms of its new deal to distribute Aaliyah’s long embargoed music,” the statement reads. They released a separate statement on her Instagram account.
Aaliyah died on August 25, 2001 flying back to the US from the Caribbean after her “Rock The Boat” music video. Ahead of the 20th anniversary, the singer has been making headlines as shocking details emerge. In a new biography, Baby Girl: Better Known as Aaliyah, written by music journalist Kathy Iandoli, a witness claims Aaliyah never wanted to get on the plane and was given a sleeping pill that left her unconscious before the flight. The singer was known to be nervous about flying, and Iandoli wanted to figure out why she got on such a small overloaded plane, to begin with.
According to Kingsley Russel, who was 13 years old at the time and rode in the taxi with Aaliyah, she was carried onto the plane by her staff after they argued for hours about getting on because they received warnings about carrying too much cargo, with 9 passengers.
If the team had listened to Aaliyah’s intuition, they may all be here today. Right after takeoff, the small 2 engine Cessna failed to gain altitude, crashed about 200 feet from the end of the runway, killing Aaliyah and her entourage. The New York Times later reported that the aircraft exceeded its maximum weight by hundreds of pounds. Furthermore, the pilot reportedly faked his license and was under the influence of alcohol and cocaine at the time of the accident, according to a 2002 toxicology report, per Page Six.