I Remember Blackness: When I First Heard Aaliyah

I miss Aaliyah Dana Haughton.

I wanted to be Aaliyah Dana Haughton.

But let me back up. I am 40 now. Had Aaliyah lived, she would have been 42 in January. For reference, Aaliyah was famous before Beyoncé went solo and the internet belonged to her thereafter. But, I miss Aaliyah. I, like most of her fandom, remember just how amazing she was. I, like most of her fandom, wishes her music would be available for streaming. But, again–getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you what she meant to me.

Where I grew up in St. Louis, there was this music channel that was local and it was called THE BOX. Now, this was the early 1990’s: there were no streaming services, not everyone had cable, and you still had to make mixtapes on the radio! But on THE BOX, you could order videos by a 3-digit code and it would play within the hour. Now, was this free? No. But I remember seeing Back and Forth on THE BOX and also on the Friday Night Countdown on BET. I saw this girl–not much older than me!–and she was just talented, tomboyish and I was…I was a fan.

I watched her grow into this artist, definite and sure, and it was amazing! When she went into acting? Oh, yes! I know that you all remember Romeo Must Die, but I remember her most fondly as Queen Akasha. As one who grew up with Firestarter and Christine as favorite movies, it was glorious to see this Black woman as a vampire! With her death 20 years ago, I cannot see anyone else as Akasha (Side note: READ QUEEN OF THE DAMNED).

The rumors have been swirling as to when and whether her catalog will be released, but my hopes are–adult-sized now. I want it to happen, would love it to happen! But I’m not super optimistic. It would be lit to listen to Try Again and We Need A Resolution at the next cookout from my Apple Music library, rather than a YouTube video. I guess memories are funny that way. I miss her like a big cousin that went away, that never comes home as often as we like, but she is always welcome. Besides, I found someone that I can make Come Over a ringtone for.

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