Latto, Flo Milli & More Celebs Share The Impact Aaliyah’s Music Had On Them

Twenty years later, the late singer’s influence remains undeniable.

Latto, Flo Milli, Yung Baby Tate & 'Drag Race' stars Symone & Kandy Muse discuss Aaliyah's music, im...
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Throughout her fruitful eight-year music career, R&B singer Aaliyah achieved several memorable hits, including “Back and Forth,” “Try Again,” and “Rock the Boat.” But her artistry was unfortunately cut short, as Aaliyah tragically passed away in a plane crash on Aug. 25, 2001.

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Shortly after her passing, Aaliyah’s life was celebrated by Janet Jackson, Missy Elliott, Timbaland, Ginuwine, and her brother, Rashad, in a tribute at the 2001 MTV VMAs. She's since been named an influence by countless artists, including Beyoncé, Rihanna, The Weeknd, and Normani.

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On the 2021 MTV VMAs red carpet, Bustle spoke to musicians Latto, Flo Milli, and Yung Baby Tate, as well as Drag Race stars Kandy Muse and Symone about their relationships to Aaliyah’s music and how it’s influenced their own work.

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Latto: “My dad was a big Aaliyah fan. I remember him [saying] to me and my sister, ‘This was the girl,’ teaching us about her career, showing us her music videos, and making us listen to her music.”

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Flo Milli: “I definitely am inspired by Aaliyah. She’s a Capricorn like me, so I connect to her music on a deep level. She was so young, so bright and mature for her age, and I really gained respect for her for that. Shout out to Aaliyah.”

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Yung Baby Tate: “I have this weird theory that when Aaliyah passed, her spirit was sprinkled into a lot of young girls, and I feel like I was one of those. Her legendaricness will forever live on... I’m grateful to be here as Baby Tate celebrating 20 years of Babygirl.”

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Symone: “She’s one of my style icons. Her spirit [and] authenticity was something that you don’t really see, especially nowadays... I was just listening to [her] getting ready today.”

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Kandy Muse: “I [grew] up listening to Aaliyah because of my mother. The music, even to this day, sounds new and fresh. It aged like fine wine.”


For much of the past two decades, Aaliyah’s music hasn’t been available on streaming services. Despite the label claiming otherwise, her family told Billboard that her catalog has long “been inexplicably withheld from the public by Blackground Records.”

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On Aug. 5, Blackground Records announced a new deal with independent label, distributor, and publisher Empire to finally release Aaliyah’s catalog. All three of Aaliyah’s albums are available to purchase and stream as of Sept. 10, allowing new listeners to connect with her music.

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Kandy Muse: “You [used to] have to go on YouTube or SoundCloud to find an Aaliyah song... [Now that it’s] on streaming platforms, maybe up-and-coming artists will find a way to create their own sound that will still sound new 20 years from now.”

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Yung Baby Tate: “Growing up, people would ask me, ‘You can sing?’ I’d be like, ‘Yeah!’ And I would always sing Aaliyah. I feel grateful to know that some little girl out there right now that can’t even form words yet [will] be able to hear Aaliyah and [say], ‘I can sing!’”

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Latto: “[Her music being available] gives more access to the younger generation, the ones that may not know the impact of her legacy and [its] influence in today’s music and artists like myself. It makes them more aware and cultured.”

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Flo Milli: “I hope her legacy continues to grow. The fact that it’s already been 20 years, and she’s talked about even more heavily now, that’s a huge impact. Everything that she talked about wanting actually came to fruition. I’m so happy for her and her legacy.”

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