Late R&B icon Aaliyah’s relationship with the Hip-Hop community is well documented, as the songstress was close with a number of rap artists throughout her life and career. Having previously collaborated with stars like DMX, Nas, Junior M.A.F.I.A., Kriss Kross, and others, Aaliyah was set to appear on the remix to Freeway and Beanie Sigel’s 2002 hit “Roc The Mic,” but passed away prior to recording her vocals.
Former Roc-A-Fella Records chief engineer Young Guru shared the surprising news during an sit-down with the My Expert Opinion podcast crew, revealing that Aaliyah was actually flying to see Just Blaze to lay down her portion of the track.
“When Aaliyah died, Aaliyah was supposed to be coming to us, flying to us,” Young Guru explained. “She had already called Just [Blaze] and was supposed to be doing a remix with Just. The first time I ever seen Hip Hop [Kyambo Joshua] cry.”
He continued, adding “She had left us — she had heard ‘Roc the Mic’ when we did it. We was about to go to the strip club and Freeway was complaining, ‘Yo, we been down here for a week and you giving all the beats to Beans and [Memphis] Bleek.’ He looking at Just like, ‘Yo, I can’t get nothing?’”
The 48 year-old sound-man says that Aaliyah, who was dating Roc-A-Fella CEO Damon Dash at the time, was a big fan of the song and that she predicted that it would become the hit that it eventually turned into. “Just [Blaze] is real quick on the ASR-X… A little longer, like 10 minutes maybe… Aaliyah had heard ‘Roc the Mic’ and she made a point to say something to Hip Hop and was like, ‘That’s the one.’”
Unfortunately, on August 25, 2001, Aaliyah would tragically pass away in a plane crash after departing from the Marsh Harbour Airport in the Bahamas. The singer had flown to the island to film the music video to her single “Rock the Boat.”
“Roc The Mic” would be released months later as the lead single to the State Property soundtrack in January 2002. The song was a breakout hit, helping introduce Freeway to the mainstream and becoming one of the biggest hits of Beanie Sigel’s career. “Roc The Mic” peaked at No. 55 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spawned a remix featuring rap star Nelly and St. Lunatics member Murphy Lee.
Watch Young Guru’s My Expert Opinion podcast episode below.