Sunday Videos: Gone Too Soon Edition.
Aaliyah “Rock the Boat”
It’s hard to watch this video without some level of sadness knowing Aaliyah died so soon after shooting ended.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Detroit, Aaliyah signed her first record deal at age 12 after years of auditioning and performing in talent competitions. She was introduced to R. Kelly who went on to write and produce the majority of her debut album. On the strength of the first two singles, Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number went on to sell three million copies and set the stage for a successful recording career. Even the revelation that R. Kelly had married an underage Aaliyah did nothing slow the trajectory of her budding star. She switched recording labels, distanced herself from Kelly and hooked up with Timbaland and Missy Elliott for her second album.
One in a Million became an ever bigger success, selling 18 million copies worldwide. In the midst of recording, shooting videos, and touring, Aaliyah attended a performing arts high school, graduating with a 4.0 in 1997. After graduation, Aaliyah started dabbling in small acting roles, eventually ending up opposite Jet Li with a well-received performance in Romeo Must Die. The single from that soundtrack, “Try Again”, became the first single to top the Billboard Hot 100 based solely on airplay.
In 2001, Aaliyah released her 3rd album. Hailed as one of the most important R&B albums of the decade, the Timbaland-produced set saw a more adult Aaliyah taking more risks in her music. Aaliyah and a production crew flew to the Bahamas to film the video for “Rock the Boat” which would turn out to be her last music video. On the return trip, the airplane, overweight and flown by an unlicensed pilot with drugs and alcohol in his system, crashed nose-first shortly after takeoff, killing everyone on board.
Since her death, Aaliyah has been recognized by Billboard as the 10th most successful female R&B artist of the past 25 years, and is credited with helping to popularize the futuristic, stuttering production of R&B during the late 90s.