I’m An Aaliyah Superfan
- Sophia Tassew
R&B singer Aaliyah has continued to inspire a wave of artists since her tragic death in 2001. As her memory lives on through musicians of this generation, she is still a big part of many of her fans' lives today, including those that weren't part of her original period of success. What's it like being an Aaliyah superfan in 2014?
Never in a million years would I imagine myself to be a superfan of a celebrity, that is until I heard Aaliyah’s One In A Million single. I was around 10 years old when I first heard the song and I instantly fell in love. Growing up, my mum and dad would play her music in the car or at home. Now, at 17, I can hand on heart say she is my favourite artist of all time. I keep two of her albums, One in a Million and Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number in a pink box under my bed, along with other music memorabilia like concert tickets and wristbands. A lot of people ask me why I’m so obsessed with Aaliyah, especially given the fact that I didn’t even know who she was at the time of her death. I find it so fascinating how a 22 year old female can have such a huge influence on so many major artists today. With the likes of Rihanna, Drake, Beyoncé, J.Cole, Keri Hilson, Justin Timberlake, Ciara and many more calling her an inspiration, how can you not want to find out more about her?
The thing that made me fall in love with Aaliyah was her ability to adapt her vocals to any sort of style. Aaliyah described her sound as “street but sweet”, which featured her “gentle” vocals over a “hard” beat. Songs such as One In A Million and Are You That Somebody demonstrate just that. I personally feel that no other female artist would be able to pull off any of those songs like Aaliyah did.
Aaliyah has influenced so many things about me including my wardrobe, taste in music; right down to my attitude. Apart from the music, we all know her for the baggy pants, boxers, crop tops and the swoop of hair covering her left eye. The baggy pants and Tommy boxers are widely viewed as Aaliyah’s most iconic style, yet it’s also the single most copied of all her looks. The trend has made a huge comeback in 2013-2014 especially with people like Rihanna donning most of Aaliyah’s looks in exactly the same style. For me, I have a collection of football and basketball jerseys inspired by Aaliyah’s Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number era. I have a tomboy style which is inspired by Aaliyah but as I grew older, I look a lot more girly.
The transition from cool tomboy to ultimate girly girl was evidently the same thing Aaliyah went through as she grew older. Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number is one of my favourite albums due to its fun, upbeat, old school vibe. But the number one spot for me has to go to the iconic album One in a Million. With the help of Missy Elliot and Timbaland, the second studio album portrays the growth of the singer.
As a superfan, there isn’t a day that goes by without me listening to an Aaliyah song. My favourites include One in a Million, All I Need, Never Givin’ Up, Extra Smooth and Don’t Worry.
Lifetime recently created a controversial biopic based on the singer’s life titled Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B. When Lifetime aired their biopic, hundreds and thousands of angry fans flooded Twitter, claiming that the film did not portray the singer the right way. The masses slammed everything from the casting of key roles to actress Alexandra Shipp’s performance of the late, great singer. Personally, I feel that the film should’ve never been made. I have also vowed to never watch the movie! Aaliyah’s family has not given Lifetime permission for the film to go through, restricting Lifetime from using Aaliyah’s original music in the movie.
Nobody will ever know what happened behind closed doors other than her brother, Rashad Haughton (who followed me on Twitter!) and her mother, Diane Haughton. To be completely honest, as a dedicated fan I would love to see some new content surrounding Aaliyah, whether it it’s unreleased music or a documentary. Out of respect, I will only support this if Aaliyah’s family has granted permission.
Aaliyah Dana Haughton has had such a major influence on my life; I find it kind of creepy myself. Every January 16th (her birthday) I celebrate by strictly playing Aaliyah’s music and wearing my favourite jersey (in pictures above). I do the same thing every August 25th (the day she passed away) and spread the word of her amazing work to everyone I know! Despite the fact that her life came to an untimely end in 2001, she has influenced a new generation of artists and inspired a new generation of fans including myself. Thank you, Babygirl, and rest in peace.
Feature image of Sophia’s Aaliyah memorabilia, first insert of Sophia and second image of Aaliyah fan art by Sophia.