This year marks the 20th anniversary of Aaliyah’s eponymous album and her estate has released a statement regarding “unauthorized projects” that have appeared to pop up during the landmark moment, and to “preempt the inevitable attacks on our character by all the individuals who have emerged from the shadows to leech off of Aaliyah’s life’s work.”
“Protecting Aaliyah’s legacy is, and will always be, our focus. For 20 years we have battled behind the scenes, enduring shadowy tactics of deception with unauthorized projects targeted to tarnish,” the singer’s estate wrote. “We have always been confused as to why there is such a tenacity in causing more pain alongside what we already have to cope with for the rest of our lives.
“Now, in this 20th year, this unscrupulous endeavor to release Aaliyah’s music without any transparency or full accounting to the estate compels our hearts to express a word — forgiveness.”
The statement confused fans, who commented both on Twitter and Instagram about its vagueness and pleaded that her music be made available. While the estate does not cite any specifics, it appears it could be alluding to a couple of recently revealed unauthorized projects. A rep for the estate didn’t not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for further clarification.
On Wednesday, new website aaliyahiscoming.com launched, as The Detroit News reports, which appears to be the primary impetus to what prompted the estate’s statement. After providing an email to the site, it leads to several social media accounts for Blackground Records, Aaliyah’s record label, with a 2.0 appendage. The label was founded by her uncle and former manager Barry Hankerson, who controls the master recordings of her music, with the exception of her 1994 debut LP Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number. Aaliyah’s debut is her only LP that is currently available to stream.
Another unauthorized project that the statement might also be addressing is the upcoming book, Baby Girl: Better Known as Aaliyah, by Kathy Iandoli. In the book, an eyewitness claims the singer was allegedly given a sleeping pill and brought on the plane unconscious before the fatal crash that killed the beloved R&B star along with eight members of her entourage after shooting the video for “Rock the Boat” in the Bahamas in 2001, as The Daily Beast reports. The book arrives on August 17th.
“Although we will continue to defend ourselves and her legacy lawfully and justly, we want to preempt the inevitable attacks on our character by all the individuals who have emerged from the shadows to leech off of Aaliyah’s life’s work,” the estate continued in its statement. “Ultimately, we desire closure and a modicum of peace so we can facilitate the growth of the Aaliyah Memorial Fund and other creative projects that embody Aaliyah’s true essence, which is to inspire strength and positivity for people of all creeds, races and cultures around the world.”
— Aaliyah (@AaliyahHaughton) August 5, 2021