On the tenth anniversary of Aaliyah’s death, it’s fair to expect plenty of tributes and memorials for the R&B sensation. Her passing, at the too-soon age of 22, left millions of fans without the singer who dominated and revolutionized the R&B landscape of their youth.
Thankfully, her music lives on. In fact, it’s even found new life thanks to a preponderance of bass music that draws heavily from the R&B of the late 1990s and early 2000s. For these producers, Aaliyah continues to be a muse, much as she was for Timbaland. Here are some of the best remixes, samples and covers of Aaliyah’s work.
“Are You That Somebody”
Brenmar, Cedaa and Deadboy are at the forefront of the rhythm and bass movement, and they’ve all taken one of Aaliyah’s most notable songs for a ride. The first two infused it with a juke and club vibe, amping up the energy on Timbaland’s classic beat, while Deadboy’s version is sparser.
[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/cedaa-aaliyah.mp3″ text=”Aaliyah – Are You That Somebody? (Cedaa remix)” dl=0]
[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/deadboy-aaliyah.mp3″ text=”Aaliyah – Are You That Somebody? (Deadboy remix)” dl=0]
“4 Page Letter”
Montreal’s CFCF drags Aaliyah’s ballad into a moody, skittering exploration of bass. This one wouldn’t be out of place on Tri Angle Records.
“If Your Girl Only Knew”
Japan’s BD1982 gets dissonant on his street bass bootleg of “If Your Girl Only Knew,” juxtaposing Aaliyah’s gentle voice with wobbly synths and twinkling effects.
“One in a Million”
A bit of an outlier, this remix by Wolf D dates back to the song’s original release. However, the bouncy Miami bass beat has come back into vogue, giving this track an old school/new school feel.
[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/wolfd.mp3″ text=”Aaliyah – One In A Million (Wolf D Big Bass Mix)” dl=0]
Moombahton with Sonora
San Antonio producer Sonora has a firm hand on the moombahton derivative moombahsoul, as evidenced by his tropical edits of “Rock the Boat” and “One in a Million” (titled “Amor de Aaliyah”). The latter is an especially smooth edit.
Two masters of post-dubstep bass music have built songs around Aaliyah samples, in different but effective ways. James Blake’s “CMYK” is a grower, and a sample from “Are You That Somebody” soars above waves of synth and sub-bass. Zomby’s rave throwback “Float” features a “Rock the Boat” couplet (“Boy you know you make me float / Boy you get me high”) as its hook.
[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads//2011/08/cmyk.mp3″ text=”James Blake – CMYK” dl=0]
[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/float.mp3″ text=”Zomby – Float” dl=0]
Similarly, both Drake and associated act The Weeknd have used bits of Aaliyah’s vocals for their songs, on “Unforgettable” and “What You Need,” respectively. In the latter, it’s as a distorted loop in the sensual mix.
The XX’s trademarked sound strips R&B down to its minimalist essentials; their cover of “Hot Like Fire” does the same. On the other hand, UK funky vocalist Kyla covers of “At Your Best” much in the same slow jam style of the original.
[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/xx_hot.mp3″ text=”The XX – Hot Like Fire” dl=0]
[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Kyla – At Your Best.mp3″ text=”Kyla – At Your Best” dl=1]
Aaliyah may be gone, but it’s clear that she is not forgotten. A generation of artists continue to pay tribute to the R&B singer, and her voice lives on.
Update: As he’s been known to do, Hudson Mohawke just outdid everyone with his latest remix. Here’s his massive, aqua crunk take on “Are You That Somebody?”