After years of fans clamoring for the entirety of late R&B star Aaliyah’s discography to be liberated, the first step towards that goal occurred today (Aug. 20), when Aaliyah’s sophomore studio album, One in a Million, was released on streaming services.
The move, which coincides with the lead-up to the 20th anniversary of the singer’s death, comes less than a month after Blackground Records announced plans to make the entirety of their catalog available on streaming services. However, One in a Million‘s newfound availability also comes in the midst of a dispute between Blackground Records and the Estate of Aaliyah Haughton, with Aaliyah’s uncle and former manager Barry Hankerson at the center of the controversy.
According to the Haughton Estate, Hankerson, who owns Aaliyah’s master recordings, and Blackground Records has displayed a “lack of transparency” in their dealings over the past 20 years and that they were unaware of plans to release Aaliyah’s albums until after the deal was complete.
“Aaliyah’s Estate has always been ready to share Aaliyah’s musical legacy but has been met with contention and a gross lack of transparency,” Paul LiCalsi, the Haughton Estate’s attorney, previously said in a statement. “For almost 20 years, Blackground has failed to account to the Estate with any regularity in accordance with her recording contracts. In addition, the Estate was not made aware of the impending release of the catalog until after the deal was complete and plans were in place. The Estate has demanded that Blackground provide a full account of its past earnings, and full disclosure of the terms of its new deal to distribute Aaliyah’s long embargoed music.”
In response, Blackground argued that attempts were made to involve representatives of the Haughton Estate and that a royalty payment was made to the Haughton Estate this year and it will receive full compensation under the terms of their contractual agreement.
A Blackground representative said, “The estate will receive everything that it is entitled to receive pursuant to the terms of our agreement. Blackground has shared our rollout plans with representatives for the estate and provided them with the opportunity to participate and provide input and the estate elected not to do so.”
One in a Million was released on Aug. 27, 1996, debuting at No. 20 on the Billboard 200. The album produced multiple singles including “If Your Girl Only Knew,” “One in a Million,” “4 Page Letter,” “Hot Like Fire,” and “The One I Gave My Heart To,” pushing the album to eight million sales worldwide.
On Aug. 25, 2001, following the release of her third self-titled album, Aaliyah, along with eight other passengers, died in a plane crash while returning from a video shoot for her hit single, “Rock The Boat,” in the Bahamas. The singer was 22 years old at the time of her death.