Not believing that Aaliyah died 8 years ago today. Almost an entire decade has passed and a rightful heiress to her throne has yet to impress me. Not Ciara. Not Rihanna. No one. What Aaliyah had went beneath any skin deep comparisons to today's disposable vixens. Her gentle voice was offset by her street demeanor in thuggish clothes. She could chill in the streets with her baggy pants and Timbs yet also sing you to sleep, all the while keeping her vulnerability protected with her black wraparound shades. She was the perfect combination of MJ's visual impact, Sade's allure and Janet's softness.

Both 4 Page Letter and One In A Million are off the One In A Million album, one of my favorites of all time. It's like 80 minutes of sci-fi/R&B that proved to be Aaliyah's breakthrough and also a major milestone for producers Missy Elliot and Timberland.
"If it wasn't for Aaliyah being the face and voice of [Missy Elliott and Timbaland's] sound they might have never got to where they did. They were presenting their sort of brilliant but challenging breakthrough music through this beautiful young girl who could sing it perfectly." - Mark Ronson

Just before her fatal plane crash in 2001, her third album Aaliyah dropped and set a new path in her career. Aaliyah was wearing dresses for the first time and her music was infused with a darker sultriness that betrayed a newfound maturity: she was blossoming into a beautifully complex woman. I bought the album on the Tuesday it was released and blasted it on repeat for weeks while simultaneously playing/gorging myself on Mario Kart. A random juxtaposition but I will always remember that period and the new mood she had created. Personal sensory memories. Isn't that the mark of a great artist?

"We was gonna save the world. We was gonna change music every chance we got. We was gonna always be family. Forever." - Missy Elliot