Aaliyah’s Estate Slams ‘Unscrupulous’ Effort to Release Her Music ‘Without Transparency’

Aaliyah smiling for the camera: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Aaliyah‘s estate is standing firm in their effort to

protect the late singer’s legacy.


Weeks before the 20th anniversary of her tragic

death, Aaliyah’s estate released a statement

slamming an effort by the singer’s former label to

drop her music on streaming services. (On

Instagram, Blackground Records 2.0 shared a

website and hashtag #AaliyahIsComing earlier

this week teasing the return of her music.)

“Protecting Aaliyah’s legacy is, and will always

be, our focus. For 20 years we have battled

behind the scenes, enduring shadowy tactics of

deception with unauthorized projects targeted to

tarnish,” the estate wrote in a statement on

Wednesday. “We have always been confused as to

why there is such a tenacity in causing more pain

alongside what we already have to cope with for

the rest of our lives.”


“Now, in this 20th year, this unscrupulous

endeavor to release Aaliyah’s music without any

transparency or full accounting to the estate

compels our hearts to express a word —

forgiveness,” the statement continued. “Although

we will continue to defend ourselves and her

legacy lawfully and justly, we want to preempt

the inevitable attacks on our character by all the

individuals who have emerged from the shadows

to leech off of Aaliyah’s life’s work.”


 “We want to preempt the inevitable attacks on

our character by all the individuals who have

emerged from the shadows to leech off of

Aaliyah’s life’s work,” 


The estate ended its statement writing that it

desired “closure and a modicum of peace” as they

focused on the Aaliyah Memorial Fund and

“other creative projects that embody Aaliyah’s

true essence, which is to inspire strength and

positivity for people of all creeds, races and

cultures around the world.”

On Twitter, many fans expressed their

frustration and confusion with the estate’s

statement and the conflicting messaging from

her former label.


“Fans are confused as to what they are

supporting. So much has been said after

Aaliyah’s death that left a lot of us w/

questions,” wrote one Twitter user. “Not to

mention the fact that fans have been deprived of

her music since her death. We want to support

what’s right but we want the music too.”


“With all due respect it’s been 20 years. You

mean to tell me that Aaliyah worked to build her

legacy for 22 years, only for yall to still

fight?” added another. “Her fans want to

celebrate her life and legacy and music. We cant

because yall haven’t gotten things in order. This

is a travesty!”


Meanwhile, Spotify’s official Twitter account

shared a release calendar for her music. One in a

Million will drop on the platform on Aug.

20, Romeo Must Die Soundtrack on Sept.

3, Aaliyah on Sept. 10 and both I Care

4U and Ultimate Aaliyah on Oct. 8.


And, according to a report from Billboard,

Blackground Recods founder Barry Hankerson,

who’s also Aaliyah’s uncle, made a deal with

EMPIRE to begin releasing her catalog on

streaming services starting Aug. 20. (The report

also shared that other artist catalogs — including

JoJo, Toni Braxton, Timbaland & Magoo and

Tank — will also be made available.)


“Blackground Records has always been about

independence and ownership,” Barry Hankerson

said in a press release, announcing the upcoming

album releases. “From day one, we set out to

shake up the music industry and partnering with

a company like EMPIRE continues that legacy.

This is Blackground Records 2.0.”


Following the estate’s Twitter message, Paul

LiCalsi, an attorney for the estate, issued a

statement obtained by sources.


“Since the early 2000s, only Aaliyah’s first

album Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number has been

available on streaming platforms because the

right to distribute that record has been held by

major record companies under contract with

Aaliyah’s record label, Blackground Records,”

LiCalsi’s statement read. “Other than that first

album, virtually the entire remainder of her

catalog, including many never released tracks,

has been inexplicably withheld from the public

by Blackground Records.  Aaliyah’s Estate has

always been ready to share Aaliyah’s musical

legacy but has been met with contention and a

gross lack of transparency.”


“For almost 20 years, Blackground has failed to

account to the Estate with any regularity in

accordance with her recording contracts. In

addition, the Estate was not made aware of the

impending release of the catalog until after the

deal was complete and plans were in place,” the

statement continued. “The Estate has demanded

that Blackground provide a full account of its

past earnings, and full disclosure of the terms of

its new deal to distribute Aaliyah’s long

embargoed music.”


“We hear you and we see you. While we share

your sentiments and desire to have Aaliyah’s

music released, we must acknowledge that these

matters are not within our control and,

unfortunately, take time,” the statement began.

“Our inability to share Aaliyah’s music and

artistry with the world has been as difficult for us

as it has been for all of you. Our priority has

always been and will continue to be Aaliyah’s



“In the meantime, however, we are working

diligently to protect what is in our control —

Aaliyah’s brand, legacy, and intellectual

property,” the statement continued. “In doing so,

we will continue to release unique and exciting

projects to keep Aaliyah’s legacy and light



Aaliyah, who died at age 22 in a plane crash, only

has her debut album Age Ain’t Nothing But a

Number available on streaming services,

according to Billboard. Fans have long sought

after the release of the singer’s additional music,

including her album, One in a Million, and her

2001 self-titled album.


Her music catalog has been under the

responsibility of her uncle and founder of

Blackground Records, Barry

Hankerson, Billboard reported.


Source: Tyshawn Smith

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