As Aaliyah’s 15 year anniversary of her death recently passed last month, I went through her trending tag on twitter ‘#aaliyah15’; as I read people’s recollections of the late star, it reminded me what it truly means to be an icon and for your legacy to live on 15 years after your death. Aaliyah embodied the carefree black girl that every little girl wanted to be, and someone everyone adored. She came and blessed everyone with unapologetic talent and as if we were too greedy she was taken away from us like that. Aaliyah was more than just an RnB singer, she was a: fashion icon, a role model, an inspiration and much more.Photo by Sal Idriss/Redferns
Full of charisma and a creative eye, Aaliyah dabbled in singing, acting, and modelling, with her number one hit for soundtrack Romeo must die ‘Try Again’, her classic role as a sultry Egyptian vampire in ‘Queen of the Damned’ and her famous campaign for Tommy Hilfiger. Aaliyah made the tomboy-look, look cool; yes women can wear baggy jeans, loose fitted shirts and still look a hundred percent sexy. She made music that some would agree changed the face of RnB. She was one of the main influencers to make RnB a popular genre in the 90s, earning her the nickname the Princess of Urban Pop; whatever Aaliyah did she was a trendsetter.
And though 15 years have past, her influence on pop culture has not ceased to fade; in fact the iconism has risen to new levels. Her life was transformed into a Lifetime movie in 2014 and although it was heavily criticised for its casting choices and going against Aaliyah’s family wishes, the movie was watched by over 3 million people world wide. The girl behind the star intrigued people; they wanted to know who the real Aaliyah was. What many biopics fail to do is capture the phenomenon behind the person, what made Aaliyah so wondrous and almost magical to her fans was the fact she was just a normal girl. She was like that big sister you never had, the representation you didn’t often find and the style inspiration you craved.
Aaliyah’s life wasn’t scandal free and at the age of 15 she was married to R.Kelly who produced her debut album ‘Age ain’t nothing but a number’, and though it was later annulled, living down the social discussion on her personal life was something Aaliyah strived in. She created the all-perfect halo of a woman, where not much of her personal affairs were publicised and the shroud of mystery enticed people more. Aaliyah’s close group of friends were Hollywood offspring’s such as: Kadida Jones, Rashida Jones, Nicole Ritchie and Bijou Philips, to name a few. You would often see pictures of them partying the night a way. Kadida was Aaliyah’s best friend, and she would travel with her on tours and on family holidays, even Kadida’s father Quincy Jones considered Aaliyah to be just like his daughter. The two had planned to start a fashion label together before her death, and you could only imagine what the ladies had planned out, something we’ll never see.
Just like other iconic stars gone too soon like Selena Quintanilla, Tupac, Biggie Smalls, and Left Eye, Aaliyah left behind a standing legacy that has inspired many in the industry: Zendaya Coleman said: ‘She’s been an inspiration and influence in my whole career, her talent still shines brighter then ever.’ Keke Palmer actress/singer who constantly draws inspiration from Aaliyah stated: ‘I love Aaliyah to me she was a true artist in every since of the word and I continue to just be inspired by her and let my heart guide me as always.’ Not only has she been the inspiration of young women, but she has lit the fire of many men too, Drake who famously has a tattoo of the singer on his back and even penned a love letter to the late star.
It is true that though our baby girl maybe gone, but the memory of her stardom, her presence lives on through the continuation of her music, fashion and art, inspiring the young and I believe her legacy will continue to inspire those yet to be born.
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