No-one dies anymore, least of all Aaliyah. It's been over 12 years since the wildly influential R&B singer died in an air accident, but that was never enough to stop her vocals being used by countless bass music producers and for various posthumous songs and collaborations – some which leave a particularly weird taste in the mouth – to surface.
One of the more eyebrow-raising of those collaborations was the mooted Aaliyah album produced by Drake and his go-to producer, Noah '40' Shebib. It seemed to get quite far off the ground, with the two actually releasing one song from it, Enough Said. The project went quiet for a time until recently, with Drake posting a preview of a new song on Instagram in December, which seemed to feature Aaliyah's vocals.
However, speaking to Vibe, 40 confirmed that despite a steady start that saw him produce seven songs, his involvement with the project is off.
"Aaliyah’s label Blackground—the Hankersons, her uncle and cousin—came to me and said if she was around she’d want you to do this [posthumous] project. I’ve been obsessed with Aaliyah forever, and I know Drake has his relationship with her. But that opportunity was mine. Drake said, 'Can I do it with you?' and I was like, 'Of course, we’ll do it together.' The world reacting to Drake’s involvement so negatively, I just wanted nothing to do with it. That was a very sad experience for me. I was naïve to the politics surrounding Aaliyah’s legacy and a bit ignorant to Timbaland’s relationship and everybody else involved and how they’d feel. Tim said to me 'Don’t stop, make the album.' I think that was Tim taking the position of, 'I’m not going to stop you. If you’re not going to do it, that’s your decision.' But ultimately, I wasn’t comfortable and didn’t like the stigma. We released [Enough Said], but I was seven songs deep. [Aaliyah’s] mother saying 'I don’t want this out' was enough for me. I walked away very quickly."
An Aaliyah/40/Drake album was the album that nobody asked for, so it's perhaps for the best. The rest of the interview is a good'un – 40 is a big Smiths fan – and we'd definitely encourage anyone to read it over at Vibe.