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As another day passes without Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms, fans are looking for answers.
Over the weekend, the hashtag #FreeAaliyahMusic appeared on Twitter in light of song battles between Swizz Beats vs. Timbaland and Ne-Yo vs. Johnta Austin. The latter opponents played their collaborations with the late singer, proving Baby Girl's dynamic relevancy in the age of modern R&B. As songs like "I Don't Wanna" and "Come Over" picked up plays on YouTube, the hashtag pointed out the tragedy of her songs not existing on platforms like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.
Aaliyah's only album on multiple platforms is her 1994 debut, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. Other albums like the platinum-selling One in A Million and Aaliyah are being held in a vault of sorts along with other unmixed vocals by her uncle and founder of Blackground Records, Barry Hankerson.
Hankerson has built up a mysterious yet haunting aura over the years due to his refusal to release Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms. Reasons are unknown but Stephen Witt's 2016 investigation revealed business deals like the shift in distribution from Jive Records to Atlantic helped Hankerson take ownership of the singer's masters. The deal was made in 1996 when Blackground featured artists like Aaliyah, Toni Braxton, R. Kelly, then-production duo Timbaland and Magoo as well as Missy Elliott.
Sadly, Aaliyah's music isn't the only recordings lost in the shuffle. Recordings from Timbaland and Toni Braxton have been hidden from the world with both taking legal action against the label over the years. There's also JoJo, who had to break from the label after they refused to release her third album. The singer recently re-recorded her first two albums.
With Aaliyah's music getting the attention it deserves, Johnta Austin discussed the singer's impact on R&B today. "It was amazing, she was incredible from top to bottom," he told OkayPlayer of working with the singer on "Come Over" and "I Don't Wanna." "I don't think Aaliyah gets the vocal credit that she deserves. When she was on it, she had the riffs, she had everything."
Earlier this year, an account impersonating Hankerson claimed her music would arrive on streaming platforms January 16, on what would've been her 41st birthday. A docuseries called the Aaliyah Diaries was also promoted for a release on Netflix.
Of course, it was far from the truth. Fans can enjoy selected videos and songs on YouTube, but it's clear they want more.
Aaliyah’s music is the landmark for a lot of your favs not only was she ahead of her time with her futuristic sounds she also was a fashion Icon dancer and phenomenal actress . The future generations need be exposed to her artistry and pay homage .#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/LxZfxcqRgF
— Black Clover (@la_alchemist) March 29, 2020
Her first #1 solely based on AirPlay! She was the first ! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/BHlANZjCGZ
— (@hodeciii) March 29, 2020
Makes no sense for someone still so influential to be hidden. Many try to emulate her. On Spotifys This is Aaliyah playlist, theres some great tracks not on her main Spotify #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/vLqLTVxqO9
— Blackity Black⁷ (@ClaudBuzzzz) March 29, 2020
Aaliyah is trending once again. She deserves endless flowers. This is true impact y’all. Her voice, her sound, her music...She’s been gone for 2 decades and y’all see the love for her is even stronger! We miss you baby girl! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/ALDcT0ZQxR
— A A L I Y A H (@forbbygrlaali) March 30, 2020
Aaliyah said she wanted to be remembered for her music and yet most of it is not on streaming services #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/zwk0AWMCoE
— RJR (@MyNewEssence96) March 29, 2020
aaliyah’s gems like more than a woman deserve to be in streaming sites #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/mM2GWEg1pe
— k (@grandexrocky) March 30, 2020
I saw #FreeAaliyahMusic and IMMEDIATELY jumped into action! I can’t express how betrayed I felt when we were supposed to have all her music on Spotify by her birthday. Her discography is deeply underestimated and we need to make it right for our babygirl!pic.twitter.com/GfxBeJxUY1
— jerrica✨ (@jerricaofficial) March 29, 2020
Before Megan The Stallion drove the boat...
Aaliyah rocked the boat...
— Al’Bei (@_albei) March 29, 2020
i think we should have that conversation #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/cGl269tuTr
— AALIYAH LEGION (@AaliyahLegion) April 1, 2020
On April 1, Chuck D decided to walk back his previous comments on Public Enemy’s split with Flavor Flav, claiming it was a “hoax” meant to serve as a “wake-up call.” Now, Flav returned to his Twitter account to reassure fans that he wasn’t part of the decision and called for our attention to be focused on what’s happening in the world given the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am not part of your hoax, @mrchuckd…there are more serious things in the world right now than April Fool’s jokes and dropping records…the world needs better than this…you say we are leaders so act like one,” Flav wrote before linking to MusicCares COVID-19 Relief Fund.
I am not a part of your hoax [email protected],,,there are more serious things in the world right now than April Fool's jokes and dropping records,,,the world needs better than this,,,you say we are leaders so act like one,,,donate to those in need here: https://t.co/7hioasSwuV
— FLAVOR FLAV (@FlavorFlav) April 1, 2020
In a lengthy statement, Chuck D said Donald Trump's controversial decision-making served as part of the catalyst for what he was about to do next. "Hearing the confused mush of political talk while under the bowels of Trumpotus made me use a presidential stage as my platform," Chuck D wrote. "Out of this storm came a plan between Flav and me to remind people that what’s important should have as much, if not more, value than just what’s popular. Thus came the HOAX, our ‘War Of The Worlds.’ Believe half of what you hear and NONE of what you see."
Additionally, Public Enemy Radio released a new album titled Loud Is Not Enough plus its lead single "Food As A Machine Gun."
Reportedly, Flav’s lawyer sent a cease-and-desist letter to Bernie Sanders’ campaign. Public Enemy Radio was scheduled to perform at a rally for the senator but Flav claims the campaign used his likeness in promotional ads without his permission. That’s when statements on the legendary group and Flav’s split began to take form.
"While Chuck is certainly free to express his political views as he sees fit—his voice alone does not speak for Public Enemy," attorney Matthew H. Friedman wrote, via Rolling Stone. "The planned performance will only be Chuck D of Public Enemy, it will not be a performance by Public Enemy. Those who truly know what Public Enemy stands for know what time it is, there is no Public Enemy without Flavor Flav."
It's been years in the making but Latinx superstar Nicky Jam is finally ready to share his truth with the authorized Netflix bio-series, Nicky Jam: El Ganador.
Sharing the trailer this week, the series will highlight Jam's journey in the music industry as well as the struggles he endured in the streets and more. The project is directed by acclaimed film and music video director Jessy Terrero and produced by Endemol Shine Boomdog, a division of Endemol Shine North America. The series will officially hit Netflix on April 21.
In the trailer, we see Jam in three stages: his youth, his rookie days in the game and the actual artist in the present. The creative take is bound to give fans another perspective of the Grammy-winning artist.
“I’ve been hearing from many of my fans on social media and when I talk with them in person, that they’ve been waiting for the chance to see ‘El Ganador’ in the U.S. on Netflix,” said Nicky Jam. “Now they will get to see it starting April 21 and I hope they enjoy it like so many others have across the world. I’m really proud of what we created.”
“I am excited about bringing this level of story-telling that is related to reggaeton music,” added Terrero. “The genre’s popularity gives our story and others like it the opportunity to reach a much larger audience. This is my mission with Cinema Giants. Nicky’s story is inspirational in so many ways. I am proud to be part of it.”
Jam recently celebrated another feat on the Billboard Latin charts. "Muevelo," his buzzy single with Daddy Yankee, reached No. 1 on both the Latín Airplay and Latin Rhythm Airplay charts.
Check out the trailer for El Ganador up top and revisit our VIBE VIVA February cover story with Jam here.