We are swiftly approaching the 20th anniversary of the passing of the Princess of R&B, Aaliyah. On August 25th, 2001, Aaliyah and eight other members of her entourage were killed in a fatal airplane crash when they decided to leave the island of the Bahamas early following the shooting for her music video of her single “Rock The Boat”. Now almost 20 years later, fans who have been mourning her loss will get a chance to dive deeper into the singer’s life as a new biography is soon to be released around the anniversary date, and the book promises to reveal different details of her life that were previously unknown.
Aaliyah’s 22 years on this earth have been proven to be extremely influential as her style and approach to music are still being mimicked today. The upcoming biography book, Baby Girl: Better Known As Aaliyah, was written by journalist and author Kathy Iandoli and will be released on August 17th via Simon and Schuster.
Of the book, a press release obtained by Billboard shares that it will center on “the span of Aaliyah’s life and career — from her earliest beginnings singing in Detroit all the way through to her game-changing musical era with Timbaland, Missy Elliott, and the late Static Major. The book also includes a deep dive into her tumultuously abusive entanglement with R. Kelly and an intense investigation on the crash that ended her life,” the press release states.
While the subject of R. Kelly is a very touchy one and has been for the last few years, the author wanted to clarify her reasons for his inclusion in the book, as he is, unfortunately, a part of the late young singer’s life and story. “For all the Aaliyah fans out there, I just want to make something very clear: with regard to R. Kelly, I have chosen to discuss how despite his abusive patterns, Aaliyah survived and became an icon,” Iandoli stated. “The book in no way glorifies his predatory behavior, nor does it take up a large chunk of the book. Quite frankly, he doesn’t deserve it. I know news outlets have chosen to make that tiny piece their whole headline, but trust that’s not what the book will reflect. This book is about a musical genius who is the reason most artists of today even have a career, but in order to discuss her enduring strength, I had to discuss a little bit of what made her so strong.”
Iandoli shares that this book was somewhat of a passion project for her as her death rocked her, and that she, as a fan, felt the need to honor her legacy. “I wrote this book as an Aaliyah fan. This is for all of us who for the last twenty years can spot her influence everywhere while wishing she was still here. I left no stone unturned, and I hope I’ve added to her legacy properly,” shared Iandoli to Billboard.
Taking to Instagram, she also shared this message: “Like so many of you, I remember exactly where I was when I learned that Aaliyah was killed. It’s one of those moments that has stuck with me forever, and through my writing career I have written about Baby Girl a lot—I guess to fill the void of never getting to interview her.”
The upcoming biography piece will also include never-before-made public information about Aaliyah’s secret relationship with the late producer Static Major. According to Static’s mother, Edith Garrett Raymond, the pair was definitely an item that had been romantically involved between 1997 and 1998.
“‘They were definitely an item,’ Static’s mother reportedly confirms in the book. “Aaliyah was crazy about him. He brought Aaliyah to my wedding. That was a big deal because [her parents] didn’t let her go places.” The book also gives an account of the creation story for the hit single “Are You That Somebody” that was included on the Dr. Doolittle soundtrack.
“Aaliyah wasn’t a fan of the song on the first listen, despite the autobiographical undertone. Still, she recorded it, and of course, it was perfect,” says an excerpt from the book. “…Once Aaliyah’s vocals were laid down (along with Timbaland’s and Static’s), Timbaland came back to put on the finishing touches, which were some more beat layers and his now-famous ‘Dirty South’ intro.”
As the release date approaches, more tidbits from the book are being shared, including never-before-heard news that the “More Than A Woman” singer had been unconscious prior to entering the plane that did not make it back to US soil. According to Iandoli, she encountered a man by the name of Kingsley Russell from the island that gave her a witness account of the fateful day.
“I remember wrestling with this, being like, ‘Well, she wanted to get back to Damon Dash, she wanted to be with her team, and who wouldn’t want their stuff with them?’” said Iandoli to the Daily Beast. “In learning that she did not want to get on the plane, for someone like myself and so many other people, I think that’s closure for us,” she adds. “It’s an unfortunate closure… but I needed to hear she didn’t want to get on that plane; I needed to know that. The person who I thought had the most common sense in the world had [the] common sense to not get on the plane. The fact that she was so adamant, staying in the cab, refusing—these are things we never knew.”
Kinglsey claims to have been 13 years old at the time of the accident and secured the job while her time was spent on the island as her baggage handler. Russell claims that Aaliyah saw the size of the plane and refused to get on board due to her nervousness. After expressing her disdain for getting on the plane and amid claims of a headache, the book claims that she was given a pill that placed her in a deep sleep.
“They took her out of the van; she didn’t even know she was getting boarded on a plane,” said Russell in the book. “She went on the airplane asleep.”
Will you be reading Iandoli’s book on Aaliyah?