First Impressions: Aaliyah Sings Again...With Drake

Monday, August 6, 2012

It is well-known that rapper/vocalist/Mean Girl Drake has a obsession with the late Aaliyah. Maybe obsession is too light of a word. Let's say he believes she's whispering messages in his ear and he's probably days away from touring in order to throw himself on the casket. Then again in the music world "obsession" is interchanged with the word "muse", so it's really however you want to label Drake and his love for Baby Girl (I call it "fangirling", but whatever). He's so stone in love with her that he's taking his fandom to whole 'nother level by executive producing a posthumous project that has been in the works (and a part of the rumor mill) for some time now.

Now to die-hard Aaliyah fans like myself (and to a dried-out Timbaland) unearthing vaulted tracks and reworking them feels like tampering, invasion or just plain foolishness, but after taking a listen to "Enough Said", the first impression for this project, it isn't off to a bad start. Thanks to production by Noah "40" Shebib, "Enough Said" is given new life as Aaliyah's signature coo blends all creamy like into the pensive ambient grooves of today. Sure, I could do without Drake, as when he enters in with his verse it feels like the tapes I made as a youth with me "duetting" with Michael Jackson (tapes that should be burned)---he's impeding on a beautiful moment of music love making. Thankfully, the tapering melodic ending makes it worthwhile to not write-off the song as a whole.

Yeah, "Enough Said" is purely a baiting fantasy number of what Aaliyah would sound like if she was still with us today, but to be honest it's not fair to sit here and act like we've been parched of Aaliyah's approach. Her around-the-way-girl steeze and ambitious efforts to bend the R&B straw has bubbled up in recent years and with newer faces behind the mic (see Delilah, Lucille Ghatti, and Rochelle Jordan for example). So in part, this posthumous release is almost unnecessary considering how it'd be nice to let Baby Girl you know, rest and let others have a chance. Yet, in a strange way this reemergence does have its benefits.

Aaliyah broke new ground with her 2001 self-titled and final album and it was always such a shame that she didn't get to carry out the art she presented and see her go beyond that point as well. Yet, "Enough Said" and the Drake assisted project (which I'm assuming is fashioning all these decade-old tunes into newer, current beats) may give fans that experience of progression we wished to have from an artist who showed so much promise and who we fiercely refuse to let go. Like I said, it's pure guilty pleasure fantasy stuff, but what is so wrong about indulging in a little game of "what if"?

Edit [8/7/2012]: Rejoice! A Drake-less version! Thanks to the peeps over at Hard Candy Music for the heads up. Rumors still abound about the project and it's authenticity, but for now just breathe easy and enjoy some newly fashioned Aaliyah sans the rap trap.

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