Being that I have been under the weather literally (Isaac) and figuritively, I have been reduced to being confined to my computer even more than usual. I was reminded yesterday that August 25th marked the anniversary of the passing one of R&B’s most influential icons from the 90s. My Facebook newsfeed was inundated with pictures of the songstress that I once and always will find hypnotically alluring and indescribably beautiful. It has been 10 years since Aaliyah passed away and fans are still posting original handsketches and paintings of the singer.
What caught me off guard was a question posted by Complex magazine, which I believe was intended to be more of a conversation piece than a profound statement or anything incendiary in nature. As an avid listener of Aaliyah, I automatically go on the defensive when anyone challenges her contribution to R&B. The question that Complex magazine posed was: “Would Aaliyah still be famous if she were still alive “(something along those lines). I couldn’t even bring myself to comment. Not that it was really that offensive of a question, but mostly because if anyone commented after me challenging my opinion, it would have been a debate- a drawn out debate. So instead, I have decided to take to Worthy to do my part as a fan of Aaliyah. Instead of just answering the question, I will write as a fan who is still effected by her music and inspired by the personal legacy that she left behind.
For me, I remember the singer standing out in a sea of oversexed R&B songstresses looking undeniably young and comfortable in her petite frame and humble physique. Behind an angelic voice that song lyrics that seemed to astutely describe the generation of the time, was an individual who seemed to be completely comfortable with who she was. She didn’t have the coveted wide “hips for days” and the overflowing bosom that guys always seemed to be chasing after. She rocked sweats that always seemed to swallow her. And with a humble bosom and all -wore tight fitting tops that celebrated her petite frame. She was simply Aaliyah not appearing to compete with other belting R&B singers. She knew her voice and she stuck to her style in an industry where a singer would pick up any trait to remain a factor. Aaliyah’s choice to maintain a signature sound conveyed volumes about her personality. Small in physical stature she appeared to have a firm opinion on who she was and who she wanted to be. To someone like me, who regarded the creative minds that created and/or song the songs that I loved as heavenly remnants who walked the earth, Aaliyah was as close to unique as anyone could get.
For me, she was the first public figure I looked towards to accept that my appearance could still be alluring and mysterious. I didn’t have to have the body of Tyra Banks or any other woman that I found myself wishing I could look like. I didn’t need to stock pile on make-up to be beautiful and every article of my clothing did not have to be painted on.
I look at artists today and I still see the influence that Aaliyah had on them. Ciera’s style as comfortable as she may have been in sweats when she first came on the scene- will always be compared to Aaliyah. Whenever I see Solange Knowles or Rihanna adorned in a midriff of any kind, I will always think of Aaliyah and wonder how she would’ve worn it. Good grief even Drake’s tracks feature the singer’s melodic voice.
If she were still here, I believe there would’ve been a place for her music and her presence. Even with fans being as fickle as we can be sometimes. Aaliyah was the poster child for girls of all shapes and sizes who were trying to be comfortable in their own skin. For me, Aaliyah was the first person who showed me that all women have their own unique beauty, which makes them worthy. Everything about her image in the industry was signature. She had a signature sound that stayed with you days after hearing her songs, it always seemed like she had a signature personality that was mysterious and inviting all at once and there was her signature look.
Her life, although it was too short, left its mark on the world and the people in it. Especially with someone like me. She is remembered just as much for her music as she is for her beauty. She defined a style that most women and artists still aspire to today.