16 years ago Aaliyah released what would be known as her “coming of age” album and final album, unbeknownst to her and her fans. The tragic death of the fallen angel was a shock to the world. Just 24 hours before taking the flight that would ultimately cause her untimely death, she had just wrapped up a video shoot for “Rock the Boat.” The filming of the video was shared with BET’s Access Granted, the special ran as a behind the scenes and world premier of the sexy video.
If you were like me in your childhood I made a video with my cousins in my grandmother’s garage imitating her seductive dance moves. Hips moving to lyrics I didn’t have any business dancing to.
“Rock the Boat” video, 2001
There are few moments when you can remember memories vividly, but receiving the notice of her death is one of those memories. I remember sitting in the car with my sister, we had recently left church service, and my mother had left us in the car. As always we turned to our stations once she left. The radio host made the announcement that Aaliyah and other members of her crew had not survived a plane crash.
The world stood still. People all over mourned for the fallen angel. Her family and friends in the industry kept her legacy alive, giving us an iconic video (“I miss you”) of various artists paying their respects to her.
Aaliyah’s final album, which she spent 3 years working on, marked her transition from our favorite sweetheart to a woman who knew what she wanted in life. Various interviews that were conducted leading up to the release embodied something we had never seen before. She was more outspoken about what her sound was and moving into what she considered to be a new genre for her. Songs and videos from the album showed maturity, vocal growth and more importantly, confidence. This album also showed her versatility. Songs ranged from her signature ballads to rock.
In addition to her known sound, she would give us a hidden side of her that was also a source of self fascination – her love for things dark and edgy that she later revealed through her music and films. Taking on acting roles such as Akasha in Queen of the Damned and her role, that was not released due to her unfortunate death, in one of the Matrix films.
Her favorite song on the album, which she had a hard time choosing, was “I Care 4 you.” Ironically the song was completed 5 years preceding the release of Aaliyah, but was not included on the previous album. Listening to the song you wouldn’t be able to tell, and that happens to be why she loved it so much. Beaming with her bright smile she deemed the song to be timeless, which she unveiled in an interview.
Her favorite videos were “One in A Million” (she worked with the director again on “Need a Resolution”) and “Are you that Somebody.” She revealed that these videos were her favorite because of the dance routines and the shots. The well-known dancer had a love for the art of dance. She featured some of her hometown friends from Detroit in her “Are you that Somebody” video.
She had two appearances on the popular BET show, 106 and Park, during press runs for Aaliyah. In her initial appearance she featured a brand new video. During this interview, she candidly dropped details about her adoration for the singer Sade.
In her final TV appearance on 106 and Park, she announced that she would be shooting her new video for “Rock the Boat.” When asked to give details about the meaning a bashful Aaliyah blushed and provided small insight. What we would know as her last video performance provided viewers with the elements to feel what she meant as she sang the words “Rock the boat, work the middle, change positions.” Sand, a seductive 22-year-old Aaliyah and a dynamic dance routine choreographed by Fatima Robinson left us with some of the best images from our fallen angel.
“Rock the Boat” video, 2001
Leaving the Bahamas there was a crash and the death of the star reached the world. Following the 16th anniversary of her Aaliyah album and approaching the anniversary of her death, I share some videos from her final album:
Enjoy! Rest easy baby girl! We still miss you ❤️