Amazon.com's Best of 2001
Seven years after her debut at just 15 years old, Aaliyah assembled a third studio album that was astonishingly mature. Sadly, her death just a little over a month after its release stilled a promising voice in R&B. At 22, when most artists would just be getting started, Aaliyah had already progressed from pop to street to an unconventional retro-modern, risk-taking version of R&B. While lead track "We Need a Resolution" is as mainstream as it gets, there are fewer hits on this album than on previous efforts. Instead, this collection is an extraordinary romantic exposition of passion and pain. While Missy Elliott is cranking out jams for all her "club freaks," Aaliyah is like a modern-day (if less vocally gifted) Minnie Riperton, exploring the pains of moving from child star to adult sex symbol. Tracks such as "Never No More" and "I Care 4 U" (featuring Missy) are slinky, twisted ballads imbued with film-noir sultriness, as diva Aaliyah steps catlike away from the bubblegum R&B of her contemporaries. There's also the obligatory rock track tacked on near the end ("I Can Be"), but even this excels above the standard hip-hop/rock/R&B crossover fare with its Prince-like influences coupled with Aaliyah's own instinct for seduction. Aaliyah also signaled a move away from her long-standing musical relationship with producer Timbaland, who contributes just three cuts. Having started out heavily supported by R. Kelly, it appeared that Aaliyah was more than able to go it alone. --Jake Barnes
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Member CD Reviews
(rachelspears) from WEST SUFFIELD, CT
Reviewed on 10/7/2011...
My favorite cd of the late Aaliyah. Gratitude to the swap member whom gave it to me. A real joy.
Janik Regina | Hungary | 12/10/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It became relevant, that this album set the standards for later RnB music. Aaliyah was brave enough to experiment with all new sounds. There are a lot of different instruments on this album, and she kept her ability to sing really smoothly over the hard bass. This became her signature style. This album is the total opposite of One in a Million, however both are classic albums. No wonder, she was the queen of RnB.
She didn't really care about the charts, I'm sure she could've made a lame but good-selling album, like Beyoncé does, but she chose to be unique. This album got really good reviews from critics and if you don't like it, then you should stick to Beyoncé, Amerie, Ciara, Ashanti, whatever. Aaliyah's style wasn't typical RnB, it's rather neo-soul and alternative. She really loved rock music and she was drawn to the dark side of things. You can clearly hear this on the album.
When she was recording this album, she was really happy in her life, she found love. But she chose not to sing cheesy love songs about it. This album contains rather darker songs. Abusive relationship, breaking ups, being the other woman, etc. And it took me years to realize, that Rock The Boat is about sex, however it's really nicely served. On the Limited Edition version, you can find Messed Up, which is an amazing track.
You can find Try Again as a bonus track on the European version, however that song doesn't really fit the album. Try Again is a defining song in RnB history, it brought all those electronic beats, that many RnB artists uses today, however in a cheap, clubby way.
As for me, I'm glad, that not Timbaland produced all of the songs, this is how it become so unique, cuz she worked with a bunch of producers, and she took the lead. Overall, this album is simply amazing, it shows where she was heading in her career. She was just getting better with every album.
We Need a Resolution (feat. Timbaland) - Amazing song and video, however it had to grow on me. My boyfriend doesn't even like this type of music, but it's her favourite Aaliyah song. :) A+
Loose Rap (feat. Static from Playa) - This song tells 3 different stories, amazingly produced. A+
Rock The Boat - This song spent an amazingly long time on the charts. Awesome single, really smooth. A+
More Than a Woman - One of her best-known songs, that topped the charts one year after her death. A+
Never No More - Abusive relationship. Amazing how she sang about this. A
I Care 4 U - Timeless classic. She recorded it in 1996. her favourite song. A
Extra Smooth - Extra cool song with extra cool beats and extra smooth vocals. A
Read Between The Lines - This song has latino beats, totally different. A
U Got Nerve - My favourite song by her ever. A+
I Refuse - Very beautiful song about refusing to be in a dysfunctional relationship anymore. A
It's Whatever - Wonderful song, really nice and smooth. A
I Can Be - One of the darkest song on the album, however starts really nicely, then BANG. :D A+
Those Were The Days - Maybe it's the weekest song on the album, but it's still really good. A-
What If - A lot of people don't like this, but it's one of the most experimentative song she's ever done. It's really LOUD. :) A+
Messed Up (Hidden Track on Limited Edition) - I don't know why it didn't make it to the tracklist. It's amazing. A+
It's the best album ever. It's just perfect."
The swan song of an angel
rmcrae | Houston, Texas | 03/19/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Aaliyah's self titled album was released a whopping (in terms of pop music anyway) 5 years after the smash One In A Million. Rather than running back to the studio to churn out another record like her contemporaries, Baby Girl decided to spend more time dabbling in acting, but she still dropped soundtrack singles like Try Again and I Don't Wanna to tide her fans over. After starring in Romeo Must Die and wrapping up filming for The Queen of the Damned, she was inspired to get back to the music and she was willing to stretch herself like never before.
Aaliyah herself sang "it ain't just rhythm and blues" and she wasn't lying. This album is made up mostly of R&B and soul tracks, but there are traces of rock, electro-pop, and Latin music as well. In lesser hands it could've fallen apart or gotten lost in the mix, but Aaliyah and her producers knew what they were doing.
The snaky Arabic sample of We Need A Resolution is an excellent opener. Aaliyah wants to know why her man won't open up to her about the troubles in their relationship. She encourages him to "speak your heart/Don't bite your tongue/Don't get it twisted/Don't misuse it." Timbaland (whose influence isn't as heavy on this album) plays the role of the dismissive boyfriend and drops some funny rhymes.
The aquatic Loose Rap is an anti-negativity anthem to all the naysayers, backstabbers, and wannabes. "I know you can come better/Can come better than that/I don't want all that loose rap/You can keep that!" The way Aaliyah sings the line "If you just quit trying to compete (Yeah)/No telling what/you could be/Might even be doper than me, I doubt it" is almost taunting but in a sweet, playful way. I love it!
Rock The Boat is a scorcher. Inspired by a mix of Marvin Gaye and Sade, Aaliyah seductively instructs her man to "Rock the boat/Work it in the middle/Change position/Stroke it for me." The lyrics are a fine balance between erotic and tasteful. More Than A Woman is the only poppish sounding song on the set, but it's still rooted in R&B. Aaliyah promises her man that where "you go, I go/Cuz we share pillows" and that "we can be like Bonnie and Clyde/I'll be by your side." Never No More is a defiant declaration to getting out of an abusive relationship. The lyrics are natural rather preachy or contrived and enhanced by Aaliyah's strong delivery. "Now trust me when I say/You have been told/I'm telling you never to touch me no more/Never no more!"
Would you believe I Care 4 U was originally recorded back in 1996 for One In A Million? The album had already been mastered so it couldn't be included, but this slice of neo soul is timeless. Backed by finger snaps, beatboxing, and a silvery piano, Aaliyah consoles a guy who's brokenhearted. "Hey sexy baby/why'd your girl leave you in pain?/To let a fine man like you go/She must be insane" and asks "Can I talk to you?/Comfort you?/Let you know?/I care for you."
She puts a wannabe playa on blast for thinking he's all that and trying too hard to impress her on Extra Smooth. "He got big brown eyes/So he look nice/Coming on strong/Six Pack showin'/He's too cool/For his own shoes/Nothing rude/But way too sure for me." Liyah is not amused. Aaliyah's man's behavior is getting suspicious on the samba flavored Read Between the Lines. He seems easily agigated and restless around her and leaves without telling her where he's going. Rather than putting up with it she tells him his "replies are gettin' old" and she knows that "lies are gettin' told." The frenzied middle of the song is exciting.
You can definitely hear Janet Jackson's aggressive influence on U Got Nerve. Aaliyah sassily tells off a guy who's burned her one too many times on this underground club banger. "Who do you think you are now?/I can't believe/You've got the nerve, boy!/See I'm tired of all the games/That you seem to like to play/See what you can do for me/Is forget you knew my name!" Miss Jackson would be proud. From the sampled stomping of a horse to the thunder and rain, you can tell I Refuse will be an epic drama. Aaliyah refuses to let a man from her past come back and mistreat her love ever again. The music starts off simple and reminiscent of a silent movie, but quickly swells with a mix of strings, heavy percussion, and screechy guitars until it reaches an amazing climax. Luckily Aaliyah's voice never gets lost in all the action and remains in the forefront.
The angelically lush It's Whatever is an ode to a lover for just being there for her and why they make a great couple. "Just like a breeze/In the middle of a summer's eve/When you come through/You comfort me" and "Like a candy to an apple/We go together/You're so sweet on me."
I Can Be starts out deceptively with a few strokes of a piano and Aaliyah's haunting vocals, but quickly reveals it's edgy rock vibe with sexy guitar licks. Although she already knows a man is taken, Aaliyah tells him that "I can be the other woman in your life/I can be the other reason you're out at night/I can be all the things you thought she might/I can be on the side/That would alright, alright, alright." So what if she wants to be his sideline chick, this song is amazing! Too bad it's clocks in under a mere 3 minutes. The futuristic "sing speak" rhythm of Those Were the Days reflects on a relationship that was full of passion, but quickly fell into monotony and apathy on the guy's part. "I remember walking through the park/Just shooting the breeze/Kissing in the shade/Those were the days/Lounging in the den/Breakfast in bed/You let me have my way/Those were the days."
What If dives even further into rock and will either turn off some listeners or entice others. I'm in the latter category, but the track does have some flaws. I admire the steely robotic sound, but that coupled with the chorus threatens to drown out Aaliyah's voice in some parts. A small complaint because the song is great otherwise. Now the hidden track Messed Up gets it right. It's not as hard as What If, but kicks the futuristic dance into overdrive. Why it's hidden is beyond me. Why not list it on the album?
Needless to say, Aaliyah was taking her music to another level before her untimely death in 2001. We'll never know for sure how big her career would've gotten, but I bet she would be a megastar today. She was willing to experiment with her sound and officially rid herself of the thuggish tomboy image of Age Ain't Nothing But A Number and upgraded the sensual mystique from One In A Million. The sky was the limit for her. If only."