After a lifetime of wishing we had access to Aaliyah’s full discography, it looks like fans are going to get just that.
Barry Hankerson, Aaliyah’s uncle and Blackground Records founder, has been sitting on a mountain of iconic works that also include albums from Toni Braxton, Timbaland, Tank, and more. Now, after several promises to release his late niece’s music to disappointed and frustrated fans, he took forever to deliver, but it seems he finally will.
On an Instagram account named Blackground Records 2.0, the hashtag #AaliyahIsComing is being teased, along with release dates for several projects. In response to the label’s announcement, Aaliyah’s estate has shared that while they have “always been ready to share Aaliyah’s musical legacy,” “Blackground has failed to account to the Estate with any regularity in accordance with her recording contracts.”
In an interview, in which he offers his own explanation as to what the hold up has been, Barry Hankerson in turn blames his sister, Aaliyah’s mom, whom he says has not wanted to release her late daughter’s music. From Billboard:
“Since the death of my niece, I don’t have the same relationship I used to have with my sister,” says Hankerson. “We were very close when we grew up. I don’t know if anybody can imagine, but when you lose a child, or a niece that you really loved, it was difficult for my family. So a lot of things in my family changed.” He has not spoken to his sister or nephew regularly since Aaliyah’s death, but he says he still considered their feelings as paramount: When Blackground’s final distribution deal lapsed, and the music went out of print, he says his focus turned to honoring their wishes.
“There was a conversation we had that she didn’t want the music out, and whatever my sister told me, I tried to do what she wanted me to do,” says Hankerson. “As a parent, I would understand if she did not want the music out. Because who wants to hear the voice of your daughter who’s gone? So when she said that to me, I said, ‘OK, we’re not putting it out. I don’t know when, but one day we will.’ We literally packed everything up and went on to something else.”
See the messages from Aaliyah’s estate in response to Blackground 2.0 below, plus an additional statement from the estate’s attorney here.
In response, Blackground has stated the estate will receive everything that it is “entitled to pursuant to the terms of our agreement,” adding “Blackground has shared our rollout plans with representatives for the estate and provided them with the opportunity to participate and provide input and the estate elected not to do so.”
Despite the strained relationship between Barry Hankerson and his family, it seems the albums will be released beginning later this month, along withl other classic projects from the aforementioned Blackground artists. See the reported timetables below:
We are keeping the Haughton family in our prayers at this time. We are hoping Hankerson keeps Aaliyah’s estate in the fold, as promised, and delivers what is owed. Rest in peace, Baby Girl.