DAR Music: Aaliyah's One In A Million

1. Beats 4 Da Streets (Intro)
2. Hot Like Fire
3. One In A Million 
4. A Girl Like You
5. If Your Girl Only Knew 
6. Choosey Lover 
7. Got To Give It Up
8. 4 Page Letter 
9. Everything's Gonna Be Alright 
10. Giving You More 
11. I Gotcha Back
12. Never Givin' Up
13. Heartbroken 
14. Never Coming Back 
15. Ladies In Da House 
16. The One I Gave My Heart To
17. Came To Give Love (Outro)

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal 
-For many of us, the legendary and beautiful Aaliyah is one of the biggest R&B legends of the 90's. Before her untimely passing, Aaliyah was seen as one of the premier artists in the game. What she lacked in pure vocal strength (compared to the top female artists of the time), she made up for in smooth melodies, being relatable, and a bit of sex appeal. Aaliyah would debut on the scene in 1994 with her album "Age Ain't Nothing But A Number", and that would see instantly success. However, the biggest album in her career would be her second project, One  In A Million, as her newfound partnership with producer Timbaland would yield amazing results. Today, we are here to look back at the important 1996 album from the beautiful songstress. Let's take a look at One In A Million.

1996 was one of my favorite years in music. It produced some of the best releases and one of my favorites in R&B. It would come from Aaliyah who was still working off the momentum from her debut. Unlike her first album, “One In A Million” was a smoother, more mature, seductive and all around stronger album than her first. She had a more extensive tracklist and her love inspired songs were more relatable and made for a satisfying album all around. While this one may not have been as well received initially, “One In A Million” certainly left its mark in the genre and became a memorable album.

With her debut, Aaliyah used R.Kelly as her producer, so seeing Missy, Timbaland, Jermaine Dupri, Darren Lighty and a handful of others assured fans that this would sound a little different and of course integrate so much more hip hop, which it did. She featured the legendary Slick Rick, Naughty By Nature’s Treach, and of course Missy Elliott and Timbaland also made appearances amongst others. This was (IMO) a brilliant decision because it showcased Aaliyah’s ability to mesh well with rappers and “One In A Million” would be a good balance of both.

As far as the smooth, seductive, matured and polished vocals and content, the tracklist speaks for itself. At only 17 years old, her most successful track would be “The One I Gave My Heart To”, which was surprisingly relatable and an instant favorite.  Personally for me, “If Your Girl Only Knew” is my favorite track, and with Missy and Timbaland on production, the beat was impeccable (and is attributed to propelling Timbaland’s success as a producer) and of course her vocals are just flawless. If you want an example of purely smooth R&B with a hint of hip hop, this is the track. She didn’t stop there, as “Got To Give It Up” with Slick Rick, the title track, “Ladies In Da House” and nearly every other song is something to look forward to and works to make this a truly satisfying well rounded project.

Aaliyah is amongst the artists who had their life cut very short. She had released album after album where each was better than the last. She was just starting to develop into a very promising artist as well as pursuing acting when her life was taken in August of 2001. She left an imprint in the music industry that has never quite been matched. She was so young when she started and her vocal talents as well as her charm, appeal and her iconic fashion (crop tops and baggy pants or Tommy Hilfiger attire) is still emulated today. There will never be an artist as down to earth and captivating as Aaliyah. She will forever be missed.

The year was 1996. Aaliyah was back with her sophomore album One In A Million, which was a totally different direction than her debut "Age Aint Nothing But A Number". The production, the writers, the vibe were all different. She still has her smooth and subtle tone, only the content was a little more mature, seductive, and the sound was a edgier. She still had the dark shades, scarves, baggy jeans, and boots to complete the tomboyish look, only everything was tighter and sleeker while not overly sexualizing herself. A lot of credit has to go to Missy and Timbaland, as this really opened the flood gates for them. The sound was ahead of its time with the hip hop and R&B oddly sampled/eerie noisey bounce style. With Missy's writing, Timb production, and Aaliyah's vocals, they were a match made in heaven.

When the album dropped, I'm not sure why it started off slow commercially. It debuted selling only 40,000 the first week, and maybe people had to get used to her new sound, but eventually they did because not even a year later, the album was 2x platinum. My favorite joints on this project are "Hot Like Fire", "One In A Million", "If Your Girl Only Knew", and the best one to me was and still is "4 Page Letter". A lot of us guys remember getting those 2 to 4 front and back page letters from the girls who had crushes on us in school. This video stood with its apocalyptic dystopia vibe. That last scene when she was in the silver suit was always dope to me as well. Also "The One I Gave My Heart To" was a standout on the album and a nice ballad with no Missy or Timb appearance so the sound is more mellow and heartfelt. With its traditional 90s R&B sound, it is one of the few times on here that Aaliyah shows vulnerability as well as her vocal range, which makes sense that it became the album's highest charted single.

This album influenced so many artists style wise and musically for years afterwards, some even 20 years later. She always had a mysterious drawing aspect about her and this album, videos, and her interviews set that notion in stone. There have been many who've tried but none have come close to capturing the style and essence she brought with this album. Looking back, we can now say Aaliyah wasn't just One In A Million, she was one of a kind.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
-For me, my affinity for Aaliyah wasn't really in her music, it was just her in general. I'd watch her videos and listen to the music for the Timbaland productions and glimpses of her with the hair over one eye. She was never the greatest vocalist to me, but her music always had a rhythm to lure me in. However, as I grew out of that younger phase, I came to appreciate her music even more, and I believe that One In A Million is her best work in her short career. When I was younger, I was just a really big fan of the title track, and that has changed much. I think the best version of this song itself actually came from BJ The Chicago Kid's cover of the song, but without the groundwork that Aaliyah put down here, that wouldn't exist. In addition, when looking at the title track, you have to marvel at the production from Timbaland. With booming drum patterns, and muted yet layered sounds, he created the perfect backdrops and one of my favorite beats from him. Missy did a great job writing this song, and you can hear her fingerprints all over the song from lyrics to cadence to melody.

Another Missy penned song that was a favorite of mine off this album was "Hot Like Fire", as I think it has the most infectious hook on the entire album. Other favorites for me include "4 Page Letter", "Choosey Lover" (I always think Aaliyah covering Isley Brothers songs is dope), and "If Your Girl Only Knew". There are a lot of dope songs on this album, and the production is what makes this album so special to me. It was the first real introduction to the talents of Timbaland and Missy in terms of the mainstream forefront and that's one of the important movements we've witnessed in music history. Aaliyah was on her way to becoming a legend, and this was the album that solidified her as a top talent in music. One In A Million is one of the most important 90's R&B albums and it should always be championed as such. RIP Aaliyah.



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