September 16 2021
Welcome back to Glamour Magick Beauty! The 3D realm right now feels like the early 2000s. Britney is back in the media, another hurricane just swept through New Orleans and Aaliyah’s ‘Self Titled’ album has been released again. I listened to a decent amount of Aaliyah growing up but when she passed, I only remember jams such as, “Try Again”, “Rock the Boat”, and “More than a Woman” being promoted regularly. This is my favorite album from Aaliyah so I’m so happy it’s back on streaming platforms. If you’re interested in my review of Aaliyah’s ‘Self Titled’, keep reading.
First things first, I don’t know a person who doesn’t love Aaliyah. She truly had the voice of an angel and her presence is forever missed. ‘Self Titled’, also known colloquially known as, the ‘Red Album’, was released in 2001 and is Aaliyah’s last released album to date. Sitting at fifteen tracks, in my opinion it’s the perfect length for a full fledge project. Apple Music has it listed as R&B/Soul but I consider it Contemporary R&B. I must add that despite this being my favorite project, much of this album is new to me. The public couldn’t stream for years so I never heard this complete body of work.
Upon the first listen, I thought, “My God this is great music that’s so sad we couldn’t hear before”. Timbaland, Static Major, Aaliyah and many others put together a piece of R&B gold. “Aaliyah’ is nothing but angelic harmonies, great lyrics, and phenomenal beats. The ups and downs of relationships, self-love and self empowerment are some themes you may notice throughout this project but let’s get into the album breakdown.
- ‘Aaliyah’ opens up with, “We Need A Resolution”. Timbaland and Aaliyah come together to create some sexy smooth crooning on a beautifully crafted beat. In the fashion of the name of the song, the lyrics detail a couple going through the motions. Aaliyah’s lyrics throughout this project is superb, “Did you sleep on the wrong side? I’m catching a bad vibe. And it’s contagious, Whats the latest?” See? Complete chef’s kiss.
2. “Loose Rap”. Hands down one of my favorite songs on the album. Aaliyah and Static Major ate and left no crumbs. I didn’t hear this song until not too long ago. I was sitting in the car one day and I actually had the radio on! I heard this song and I immediately fell in love with the song but became sad that her music wasn’t on streaming services. The beat sounds like some type of guitar melody and the lyrics express Aaliyah’s fatigue with the small talk of men. She encourages her suitors to come on stronger. I miss the days of 90s contemporary R&B and pop. It’s so necessary for a self esteem boost.
3. “Rock the Boat”. The people love a good ole sexual innuendo don’t we? As a kid I knew this song was kinda freaky, but now that I’m grown I really understand just how sexual this song is. Aaliyah sounds like an innocent angel but the lyrics give very experience adult, “work the middle, change positions…new position..new position..stroke it for me”. If it’s time for loving, “Rock the Boat” is great to get the mood going. Happy humping!
4. Track 4’s “More than A Woman” is the futuristic bop we didn’t know we needed. It’s another one of my favorites on the album and was the only Aaliyah song I owned for years (I had it on iTunes). It’s another sexy song about how Aaliyah can be extraordinary for her man. However, the lyrics are eerily true as Aaliyah is immortalized now, thus indeed more than a woman. No matter how you feel about her, Aaliyah is regarded as angel status in society.
5. “Never No More” is a great song if you find yourself in a toxic relationship. The lyrics speak about “wanting a future” and enduring physical abuse. Considering who Aaliyah’s first husband is, I’m sure she did to have to deal with some of these horrible things throughout that relationship. I love Aaliyah’s storytelling but I’ve never been in a situation this crazy to be able to relate.
6. The album slows down a bit more with the romantic ballad, “I Care 4 U”. The production and overall sound is a little dramatic but this is a song for the person who deserves it. Positive affirmations and sensual singing makes, “I Care 4 U” a slow jam that brings all the feels. Try not to tear up.
7. Out of our feels and back into our “It Girl” bag, “Extra Smooth” is an up tempo track with a street or hip hop flare. It has a similar vibe to “Loose Rap” and “Try Again”. Aaliyah’s talks about a handsome cocky young man, but she’s not feeling him too much. “Extra Smooth” is just another day in the life of a Pop Star, jam on.
8. “Read Between the Lines” an underrated bop not talked about enough. An instrument filled snazzy beat that makes you want to swing your hits (you can’t deny those hi hats and horns), A1 vocal abilities, great lyrics, and background singers who came to slay make, “Read Between the Lines” another one of my favorites on ‘Self Titled’.
9. “U Got Nerve” has to be my least favorite on the album. The beat, melody and tempo just don’t do it for me but the lyrics are top tier and develop the song’s break up theme. Aaliyah mentions that she’s over the manipulation and mind games and that she’s focused on what’s new and fresh. I stan a Queen who isn’t afraid to pack her bags and dip!
10. “I Refuse” is another underrated song. The eery piano keys in the song’s opening gives eery. It’s quite clear the relationship is in trouble. If we’re to assume it’s the same set up Aaliyah was referring to in “Try Again”, then it’s clear that things have continued to descend. Aaliyah sounds very fed up here and the vulnerable lyrics make me imagine her pouring out unfiltered emotions straight from her diary. You never really know where the inspiration comes from but I enjoy Aaliyah in her “J’en ai marre” moment.
11. “It’s Whatever” is the necessary love song to balance the previous two higher tension tracks. It gives first date, love birds, picnic or walk in the park vibes. Aaliyah’s singing is also sweet enough to put you to sleep, “It’s Whatever” is the perfect soundtrack for your pastimes as long as they’re peaceful.
12. It’s easy to pick on SZA when you forgot about Aaliyah’s “I Can Be”. A 90s side chick anthem, between this song and others Aaliyah shows her nonchalant attitude towards relationships. Upon registering what she was talking about I was like, “Damn Aaliyah, that’s cold”. But it’s Aaliyah and we love her. It also takes two to tango so there’s that.
13. Aaliyah walks us through the garden of nostalgia in, “Those Were the Days” as she reminisces over the better days in her relationship. Maybe ask Alexa to play this if you feel bitten by the 7-year itch?
14. “What If” What if has the rock sound. So necessary. A sexy night out song. Aaliyah’s a hot commodity in these streets. 2 can play that game. Cheating and lying.
15. Aaliyah and Timbaland come together to finish out ‘Self Titled’ the way they began, another collaboration that produced nothing but heat. This dream team blessed up with their never give up anthem, “Try again” and for that we owe them. “Try Again” is exactly what Pop needed and it delivered and served! The catchy banger is a track that gets you dancing while the sweet sounds of “try again” from Aaliyah make you never want to give up. Give it a go at your next workout.