The news that Drake will reportedly executive produce an upcoming Aaliyah album has sparked debate across parts of the blogosphere and twitter. But despite the fact that these reports remain very much unconfirmed, they seem to carry enough merit for the man behind the sound Aaliyah forged her legacy on, to speak out about it. In an interview with Power 105, super-producer Timbaland said: “I know they trying to drop some Aaliyah records, but if he do it, it should be with me and Missy. The proper way for him to do that would be for me, him and Missy to be all on the record. But to put it on his record, would just not be right”.
Now a couple things need be addressed here. Firstly, “I know they trying to drop some Aaliyah record…” is pretty exciting – it gives some legitimacy to the spreading rumours. It’s worth mentioning Aaliyah’s family / label have not released a posthumous album of original songs thus far (greatest hits with unreleased bonus songs don’t count). Secondly, I think most would agree with Timbo’s sentiments – an Aaliyah record without the inclusion of him and Missy Elliot wouldn’t feel right or totally authentic. However, the fact that he has suggested collaborating with Drake on the project is (in my opinion) a sign that even he thinks Drizzy is up to the challenge of curating (an executive producers main job) an album of genuine legitimacy. It’s ultimately not enough at this stage of Aaliyah’s legacy to simply “recreate” what was in 1996, which is essentially what Timbo & Missy may do if left to their own devices. With that they run the worrying risk of failing to recapture the magic they once created together – not really worth thinking about. What’s needed, to truly honour an artist so completely ahead of her time, is to craft her voice and style around something that she could (probably would) have released today. And with that, who better to trust than Drake and his producer Noah ’40′ Shebib?
The main issue some seem to have with Drake being involved is largely due to the misunderstanding as to what an “executive producer” really is. It isn’t someone who composes music, it isn’t someone who produces records (some do, obviously) – it’s someone who curates and manages the direction and execution of a record. And if an Aaliyah album is truly on the horizon, who better to entrust than a man not only passionate about the artist, but also one who has a definite understanding (both musically and intellectually) of the cultural landscape from which she comes and represents.
Not to mention – how truly awesome would it be to hear Aaliyah over a 40 beat? C’mon! And let it be known (as if it wasn’t already) we are die-hard Timbaland, Missy, Aaliyah purists. Those beats, those songs, those albums, that entire era quite literally shaped our formative (y)ears and are among some of the most important records of our lives. But lets not let traditionalism get in the way of pushing art forward.
Whether it’s a full album or just a single feature, lets hope we hear something new from our beloved Baby Girl soon.
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