Aaliyah’s estate slams label’s ‘unauthorized’ release of singer’s music on streaming platforms

Spotify announced that Aaliyah's studio albums and other projects would see a staggard release beginning this month through October

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The estate of beloved late singer Aaliyah recently released a statement slamming her uncle’s “unauthorized” announcement that her music would be finally coming to streaming platforms. 

On Thursday, Barry Hankerson, the brother of Aaliyah’s mother, Diane Haughton, and the owner of Blackground Music, her former record label, announced that the late singer’s music catalog will be released on streaming platforms.

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On Thursday, Spotify announced that Aaliyah’s studio albums and other projects would see a staggard release beginning this month through October. On Aug. 20, the 20th anniversary of the singer’s death, Aaliyah’s multi-platinum album One In A Million will be released; followed by the Romeo Must Die movie soundtrack (Sept. 3), her final self-titled album Aaliyah (Sept. 10), and the posthumous projects I Care 4 U and +Ultimate Aaliyah (Oct. 8). Aaliyah’s debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number, is already available on the streaming platform.

The recent announcement of the releases fulfills a promise Hankerson had previously said in an interview.

However, the new announcement prompted a response from the estate, also distributed via social media.

“Protecting Aaliyah’s legacy is, and will always be our focus,” it read. “For 20 years we have battled behind the scenes, enduring shadowy tactics of deception with unauthorized projects targeted to tarnish. We have always been confused as to why there is such as tenacity in causing more pain alongside what we already have to cope with for the rest of our lives.”

“Now, in this 20th year,” it continues, “this unscrupulous endeavor to release Aaliyah’s music without any transparency or full accountability to the estate compels our hearts to express a word – forgiveness.”

The estate, which is managed by the singer’s immediate family, said they “want to preempt the inevitable attacks on our character by all the individuals who have emerged from the shadows to leech off Aaliyah’s life work.” 

The family adds that it is currently working to facilitate a memorial fund “and other creative projects that embody Aaliyah’s true essence, which is to inspire strength and positivity for all creeds, races and cultures around the world.” 

Hankerson has not released a reply to the estate’s statement. 

This month marks the 20th year since Aaliyah perished in a plane crash just after the recording of her video, “Rock the Boat.” 

A new report from a man who claims to have seen the singer before the fated flight which killed all nine people on board said she was fearful of flying on the small plane, and she was reportedly carried aboard unconscious after being given a sleeping pill. 

Author Kathy Iandoli includes the assertions from Kingsley Russell — whose family ran a taxi and hospitality business on the Abaco Islands — in her pending book, Baby Girl: Better Known as Aaliyah. 

Russell claimed that at 13, he tagged along with the singer and her crew during her shoot, as his mother was her driver.

“The only thing I’ve taken with me is that after 20 years, I can finally say that Aaliyah didn’t want to get on the plane,” Iandoli told The Daily Beast. “That makes me feel a little better, but not much. This didn’t have to happen. She should still be here, and I think that’s the saddest part about it.”

TheGrio’s Chinekwu Osakwe contributed to this report. 

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