How To Listen To Aaliyah's Music That Isn't Available To Stream, Including "Try Again" & "Rock The Boat"
It's been 18 years since the 90's R&B superstar, Aaliyah, released her third, and arguably most well-known, album, but fans looking to stream her self-titled project will find themselves out of luck. For nearly two decades, her fans have been asking one major question: Where is it possible to stream or even listen to Aaliyah's music? Unfortunately, the singer's discography is nearly impossible for fans to find on streaming services, despite her fervent fan base.
According to a 2016 report by Complex, Aaliyah's uncle, Barry Hankerson — and the founder of her record label, Blackground records — has kept most of the late singer's discography off of streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, and Google Play, for years. Only her very first album, Age Aint Nothing But A Number, is available on streaming services or to purchase in digital form, which the outlet reported is because Hankerson doesn't own the masters for that particular album.
Two of Aaliyah's most well-known and beloved albums, One in A Million and Aaliyah, are unavailable to stream. These, unfortunately, include tracks like "Try Again," and "Are You That Somebody." In 2017, a hacker attempted to upload Aaliyah to iTunes for the first time, but they were removed within 24 hours, as reported by Pitchfork. And fans have yet to successfully find a way to listen to her last two records via streaming.
In the meantime, fans who are looking to reminisce about the Princess of R&B will have to purchase physical copies of those albums via outlets like Amazon. However, actually getting a physical copy is also difficult, as they do not appear to be in production. On Amazon, for example, the only copies of Aaliyah available for purchase appear to be used, which means that the price varies widely and quality is not exactly guaranteed.
In addition to Aaliyah's final two albums, the majority of her discography is unavailable to stream, including the soundtrack to her film debut, Romeo Must Die, and the posthumous tribute album, I Care 4 U, which featured previously unreleased tracks from the late singer. While some of Aaliyah's music videos from that era are on YouTube, including "More Than a Woman" and "Rock The Boat," for fans to watch, the only way to own the complete version of those albums is to buy used physical copies, or those being auctioned off on ebay or sold via third party online.
Besides preventing new generations of fans from discovering the late singer's catalogue of music, the fact that only Aaliyah's debut album is available to stream is particularly upsetting to fans because the record was co-written and produced by R. Kelly in the late 1990s. Kelly, who has long been accused of sexual misconduct and having relationships with underage women, reportedly secretly married 15-year-old Aaliyah in 1994, when he was 27 years old, according to multiple sources, including The Cut.
Other outlets like Rolling Stone reported that the alleged marriage was annulled that same year, and the pair reportedly agreed to never discuss its details, which included claims that they allegedly used a falsified marriage certificate indicating that she was 18 at the time. In 2016, Kelly told GQ that he wouldn't speak about the alleged relationship, "out of respect for Aaliyah, and her mother and father."
Despite the difficulties Aaliyah's fans have had in streaming her music, there have been many attempts to bring revive the singer's tracks. In 2012, Drake announced that he was planning to produce a posthumous Aaliyah album that would feature previously unreleased vocals, as reported by Complex. He even unofficially released a track from the project, "Enough Said," which featured Aaliyah's vocals and verses from the Canadian rapper. However, the project quickly earned a great deal of backlash from fans and Aaliyah's family, and her friends and collaborators Timbaland and Missy Elliot released a statement to Billboard denouncing the album and revealing that they wouldn't participate in its production. Drake eventually stepped down from the project in 2014.
With no other potential re-releases in the works, fans of the late R&B great will simply have to return to the good old days of CDs and vinyl if they're hoping to listen to any of Aaliyah's later work. Otherwise, there's always YouTube videos to help remind them of the "Try Again" choreography, if they want to recreate the feeling of dancing around their bedroom to the princess of R&B.