On Saturday, fans mourned the 18th anniversary of the death of Detroit-born pop star Aaliyah Haughton, who died in a plane crash in the Bahamas at 22.
The singer left behind a celebrated body of work that resonates to this day — especially her futuristic 2001 self-titled third and final studio album
. However, it's only her 1994 debut, Age Ain't Nothing but a Number
— produced by serial child abuser Kelly, who at 27 secretly and illegally married the then-15 year old, causing a rift in her family — that is available for fans to stream or download.
The reasons for this were documented by Complex
in a 2016 deep-dive
on the state of her legacy, which concluded that "a single, stubborn" man was responsible for Aaliyah's catalog's digital void: her uncle Barry Hankerson, head of the now-defunct Blackground Records, who owns the rights to her catalog with the exception of her Kelly-produced debut.
According to the article, Hankerson was still wounded by the loss of his niece, whom he initially introduced to Kelly, and the label slowly imploded. However, there was a ray of hope for fans, as the story revealed Hankerson sold a stake in Blackground’s publishing rights to a company called Reservoir in 2012. The deal could even include unreleased Aaliyah tracks — though no release date was given.
The wait could soon be over. On Saturday, Hankerson took to Twitter
to tease that Aaliyah's catalog could be coming to major streaming services in 2020.
"We listened, this is not a drill in honor of the great legacy of #Aaliyah," he tweeted, and tagged the accounts for streaming services Apple Music, Spotify, TIDAL, and Amazon Prime. He ended the tweet with the date Jan. 16, 2020.
Screenshot from Barry Hankerson's Twitter account
By now, hardcore Aaliyah fans likely know not to hold their breath. The singer's posthumous career has been marred by various starts and stops, including an aborted record
originally announced in 2012 that was supposed to be produced by Drake and Noah "40" Shebib before they dropped the project, citing concerns from her family. Still, this is the most promising development for Aaliyah fans in quite some time.
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