Honey Readers Share
Thoughts After Aaliyah's Death
It is rare that regular people can truly
identify with celebrities. But the
connection fans had to R&B star Aaliyah
Haughton, 22, is a perfect example of
the seamless--and priceless--bond that
can be achieved between everyday
people and their idols. They loved her.
And she loved them. Sadly, their
relationship has changed forever.
The superstar singer/actress was
tragically killed on Saturday evening
while returning from a video shoot for
her latest single, "Rock the Boat," when
her plane, a Cessna 402B, exploded and crashed just after take-off
from Marsh Harbour International Airport on Abaco Islands in the
Since she blasted onto the scene with "Age Ain't Nothing But A
Number," in 1994, Aaliyah has influenced the hip hop generation with
her music, her acting and her style. And judging by her recent and
upcoming projects, she was surely on her way to the highest heights of
stardom. Her most recent video, for the single "We Need a Resolution,"
off her just dropped self-titled third album, is currently in rotation. And
within the past month, MTV debuted a behind-the-scenes biographical
show on her life. She'd completed a lead role in Queen Of The Damned
and began filming co-starring roles in Matrix 2 and Matrix 3.
With such visibility and promise, it was quite unsettling as CNN's
Headlines announced the young singer's death on Sunday morning. The
numerous vigils and tributes already in the works show that she will be
missed and mourned by her family, her friends, the entertainment
industry and, of course, her fans. Here, our Honey readers respond to
losing one of their own.
"This is a tragic and untimely ending to a
young life that was filled with promise.
Hopefully, this will make young people
appreciate life and understand the
importance of living everyday to its
"Aaliyah was blessed with beauty, talent
and a star quality that forced all to watch
her every move, yet she was so humble
and grounded with her success and
fame.. and it is for that reason that I
think the world considered her a star.
Even though I don't know her personally, I am deeply saddened by her
death. And am still in disbelief that this has even happened. It has
forced me to take a step back and appreciate the life that God has
given me. Aaliyah was one of few that TRULY recognized her blessings
and I think it is safe to say that she left this earth at peace knowing
how much her life contributed to this world and all the people in it. To
her family and friends, and to the family and friends of all aboard that
plane, our prayers are with you!"
"This is really unfortunate. She was so talented and hadn't even
reached her peak yet. It's crazy."
"It is a most unfortunate and tragic occurrence that Aaliyah has
passed away so young. Her untimely death has left a void in the hearts
of many who knew her personally and grew to cherish her as a
New York City, NY
"I was deeply saddened upon hearing the news about Aaliyah. She was
young, successful and had a lot of great things going for her. She had
a great style with the mic and her acting career, just beginning to
accelerate, displayed her versatility with various art forms. She will be
dearly missed but her music will live on."
Sister 2 Sister 1995
Back in the summer of 1995, I was surprised when I received a phone call from Jive records publicist Wendy Washington asking me if I would please come and spend a couple of days with Aaliyah and her family. Aaliyah had suffered through some pretty negative e publicity stating that she, a minor at 15 years old, had married R. Kelly, who was 27, back on August 31, 1994. R. Kelly was the super producer who launched her career. Her first album, Age Ain't Nothing but a Number, sold over a million copies. She was s successful, she was beautiful, and she was young. She was a high roller on the music business, the sexiest business that exists today, barring the Internet (ha ha). It was enough to make any young girl's head do a 360-degree spin. But along with the success s came sorrow. Rumors flew about her having an intimate relationship with R. Kelly. They said that she was jealous of other girls around him, that she spent time at his apartment, that she was seen walking his dog 12 play, and that even her mother was hanging tough with her at R. Kelly's downtown pad. Sister 2 Sister got phone calls from concerned executives in the music industry about Aaliyah spending time late at night alone in the recording studio with R. Kelly. And then the finale- reporters got hold of a marriage certificate stating that R. Kelly had married Aaliyah. All of these things caused her and R. Kelly to be booed at an award show.
Were any of these rumors true? I had seen a copy of the marriage certificate, for God's sake! People wanted to know, "Where were her parents? Weren't they concerned?" Well obviously they were. That's why I suddenly found myself on the way to Aaliyah's family's new home in Detroit. That's why Aaliyah's parents, Michael and Diane Haughton, had assumed more control over there daughters career; it was going to be a new day and they wanted sister 2 sister to come and let the world to hear their side of the whole story.
Diane and Michael met in college. They broke up because they thought they were too young. Diane said she liked his shy sweet mannerisms and the way that, "I knew that he would stick with me through thick and thin, no matter what."
Michael just thought Diane was pretty. He said, "She was fine, that's right. She's been a guiding measure for me to do right and raise this family."
Diane worked in education. She explained that she believed in the Piaget theory. She explained: " If a child spills a class of water, you teach the child to clean it up because that child is learning relationships with their space...you don't yell at the child." That's the way she and Michael raised their children. Michael, worked for a program called "Operation Getdown" with the Coleman Young institute. They fed the homeless. He was the director of the day program, which did counseling. He had also been on the road with his brother-in-law, Barry Hankerson, when Barry managed the Wayans.
Nobody meets Michael without falling in love with him. He's warm and comfortable, like soft leather slippers in front of an open fire. Here are the interviews.
THE 1995 INTERVIEW
Jamie: So now you're Aaliyah's manager?
Aaliyah's Dad: I'm the manager.
J: Are you on the road with her? Do both you and her mother go on the road with her or do you switch?
AD: I'm on the road with her. Anytime she's on the road, I'm with her. If I'm not going to be there then her mother will go out. But if Aaliyah does promotions and those kinds of things, her mother will do more of the promotions. But when she's on the road I'm with her all the time.
J: Okay Aaliyah, when did all this start? In 1992 when you started working with R. Kelly?
Aaliyah: I started recording in 1993
J: I think Barry [Hankerson, Aaliyah's uncle who formerly managed Gladys Knight, former co-manager of Aaliyah and manager of R. Kelly told me he was looking for a female singer and you were always around the house singing. So he took you to R. Kelly.
A: That's how he introduced us he thought it would be cool for R. Kelly to produce my first album. I had a lot of faith in the album when we were finally finished with all o f the songs. I said, "This should be pretty good." I was nervous about it, you know, with it being my first album. I was glad to see that it was very successful.
J: Who are you working with now?
A: I'm working with Jermaine Dupri on this album. I first did d a track with Dave Hall. I'm also working with Puffy, DJ Kool, J Dibbs, and Daren Whittington to name a few. Barry [Hankerson] asked me who I really wanted to work with and I told them who I wanted and some people were wanted to work with me on the album . It wasn't just like, "You're going to work with this person and they're going to work with you." You go through management and the record company and they just hook it up.
I want to be in this business for awhile. On each album I want to take my image to another level. My first album was strictly street-you know, "young." I want to be a little more sophisticated and along with my age group. If I'm 25, I'm pretty sure the bandannas and things won't be as prevalent as far as my age is concerned. I want to change little by little with the time so that my fans won't be shocked as far as coming out with a dress or something, you know?
Don't expect me to come out in a dress or anything though because I'm not. I wear skirts when I go to church, but I wear suits too. I love pantsuits. I wear those most of the time. I go to church whenever I'm home. I'm Catholic, so I go to my school church and St. Anthony's.
J: How do you feel about children being sexual performers? Do you think that it's wrong, it's good, it does not matter? Do you think you affect kids?
A: Well, I fell that as far as my age group is concerned, that it's definitely what we go through. This is the age were we start learning about romance. So when I sing a song, I'm talking about what I go through and that's just what all kids go through. As far as being on stage singing about that, it's just what I would talk to my girls about. If I'm gonna go hang out with my girls, I'm gonna say, "hey, he was cute." They may say he was fine or whatever.
So it's just what kids go through. I don't really see anything wrong with singing a song about love. Society portrays sex a lot on TV. As soon as you turn on the TV, that's what you're going to see. Kids need to talk to their parents and learn about sex so they'll have knowledge about what to do if they decide to do that. To me, being abstinent is what you need to do, but if you're going to have sex, be safe about it. I don't down anybody who sings about sex, if that's what they choose to sing about because kids are going to see it no matter what. So I don't see anything wrong with it.
J: Do you have to go that way to be successful?
A: I don't think I have to.
J: It's difficult for parents to let young artist out there. There's just too much negative stuff out there.
A: Yeah, there's negativity in any career you choose. Being in this business, there are negatives as far as people trying to manipulate you or take advantage of you or your talent. But there are positives also. You can soar to great heights if you are determined and you work hard. To me, to avoid negativity is to stick with your family, have them around you, and to have a strong belief in God. You will succeed. That's why I think it's cool that I have my father as my manager and my mom travels with me. My brother goes with me sometimes. SO if you have a base, I think you'll be fine. You'll be able to override that negative stuff.
J: What do you think about teenage pregnancy?
A: Well, you threw that in there! [laughing] To me, abstinence is best because you don't have to worry about diseases or pregnancy. If you are a teenage mother, I think that being with your family and sticking with them is best. They can help you and your child, but you can also learn from them and have someone around to help you support the child.
J: Well, a lot of these girls feel like they don't have anybody. They want somebody to love them and they have low self-esteem. Tell me about how mommy and daddy raised you. Did you get a lot of whippings?
A: Well my parents, thank the Lord, did not believe in spankings. [Laughing] They didn't whip me. I would get popped, you know, "Aaliyah go to your room." That was if I did something wrong. We talked a lot. We would sit down and have family meeting. If my brother and I had questions then we would ask them. I think it's important to feel free to ask your parents anything because they're a parent, but they can also be your friend.
J: So how did you feel when all this stuff with you and R. Kelly started?
A: Boy, well, it's been a rough year. It has been rough.
J: This has been a bad year for you?
A: It's been a rough year. It's been tough, but my family and I have weathered the storm and we've gotten through it. I can say the support of my fans also helped me get through this.
J: How did your fans support you?
A: I did a lot of touring and I had a lot of people come up to me and they didn't care about it. They said they love my music and they don't care what people say about me. A lot of people say, "Go girl!" I haven't gotten a lot of negativity, which I'm very, very glad about.
J: How did that all turn out? How did that certificate turn up? [A marriage certificate circulated that supposedly proved that Aaliyah married R. Kelly when she was a 15 year-old minor.
A: Well, I cant talk about that right now because...
J: Was it a joke?
A: I can't really say anything about that right now.
J: It was no joke. Somebody did that...
AD: Well Jamie, the thing is that I got involved at a point, and like you said, we've weathered it. But that's what we're trying to do is put that behind us. I don't think you could say it was a joke. I don't think it was any kind of publicity play.
A: Oh no, definitely.
AD: I think this is where we're going to deal with it and the reason why Aaliyah's being very careful in how she answers you-or any journalist. We would like to say that we're moving ahead. Aaliyah's not married. She is not married.
A: No, not, and never was married.
AD: As a father and a parent, I think that we would like for people to understand that no relationship exists now.
J: You mean between her and R. Kelly?
AD: It was a friendship. It was a producer/friendship situation.
A: Producer/artist, strictly.
AD: That's all it is, and at this point, I don't think we need to belabor the point that Aaliyah has any feelings whatsoever in that camp and vice versa. We wish R. Kelly all the luck in the world with his career and we would like for Aaliyah to move forward with her career. I think it would be unfair to sit here and go through slinging any kinds of bobs at R. Kelly. There are some answers that he needs to face because Aaliyah has been out here for six or seven months answering these questions, and he hasn't said anything.
J: And he hasn't said anything? Right?
AD: You can see this as ties talking to you, this has been a situation. I feel the only argument I have with anybody is that we haven't been able to handle it nationally. That's why I'm so glad to have you here at my home talking.
J: Did you tell them?
AD: Yeah and I'm going to tell you, Jamie, I am very pleased to have you here and that's why we're being candid. That's why I'm saying what I'm saying. I don't want to seem like I'm trying to give you any mush role. It's just that we would like to say from this point and you can quote it from her father, that no relationship exists. Like I said, I hope that he has all the success in the world with his career, but as far as his camp goes, no relationship exists. We don't harbor hate because we are a Christian people and that's not going to get you anywhere, hating somebody. If mistakes were made, then Aaliyah has grown and matured and so have I.
J: Would you work with him again musically?
A: Well, I would say it would be hard to work under those sorts of circumstances after all that's been said. It would be kind of tough. Like with this next album, it was my decision to go ahead and deal with some new people. I had to move on as an artist because, of course everyone was always outing the names Aaliyah and R. Kelly together. Now it's time for me to move on and be a separate artist and do my own thing now. To be my own artist, not have people think I was riding his coattails. Its time for me to go on and do my own thing.
AD: I know you're national, that was the while thing, Jaime. SO many people don't have this story. That's what's surprising. As much as Aaliyah's been out there, there's quite a few people that's still thinking back, six, seven months ago.
J: How did you feel when you were booed at the Soul Train Awards last year?
A: Well, I wasn't there, but I heard about it. That's why I feel it's important to come out and say what happened because I feel that the fans need to know. That's a reason why, because they don't know what really happened. That's why I feel its cool to talk to you, so that you can let them know that I have no connection with that anymore. That was a negative, but that's over with now and I'm moving on with my life. It did surprise me, but I understand why.
J: It's good that you understood.
AD: But then too, what is not really being looked at is the manipulation. And I think that Aaliyah needs to address that to young people coming into this business. Manipulation is a very key word in this business. I'm a grown man and I've learned about it , so I'm not coming like I'm all seeing and knowing. But you can see that you can be [manipulated] and they try to manipulate the press. The press could've gotten mad at Aaliyah. It was my decision to keep my daughter quiet, and you can quote that. Aaliyah is coming out now because we feel it's the best time and she's coming out to a credible person like yourself. So she's here talking to Jamie Brown about what the real deal is. The real deal is that there was manipulation going on. The fact that mattered was that it was stated on the American Music Awards.
J: What did he say at the Awards? He said, "My best friend, Aaliyah."
AD: Right. Next to his mother and anything else. Jive [Records] had sent us out to Hot 97 [a New York radio station]. They had this promotional show and she was performing the same time that show was coming on. When she came back everybody was telling her that this statement was made. She wasn't even aware of it. There had not been any connection, no talking, no anything else going on between them.
AD: So he took and manipulated that to his own end. So Aaliyah, you go along, which to me just prompted people to continue to feel that this situation did exists and it didn't. \par Aaliyah has been working on this career individually since the age of six. She's be en singing, She's been one minded. I'm not a show parent where if Aaliyah said, "Look, this is not what [I want]"...The only reason I'm sitting here dealing with this now is because she loves this business. She wants to make it. You saw it there. This was going on five, six years before R. Kelly existed as a producer or anything. Aaliyah was going to be in this business. You heard your personal friend tell you when she went to Jive [Aaliyah's recording company] at 12 singing the Lisa Fischer song. She wanted this and, unfortunately, we had what I felt is a media nightmare that we've weathered and gotten by. We're hoping with the help of the proper media people internally and with people like yourself, that we can answer the questions so the fans know Aaliyah is not married.
There was one article, over two months ago, that really upset me. [It] almost tried to paint it as though he was doing the right thing. That she was supposed to be having a baby and he was doing the right thing to marry her. They were trying to find very rational reasons to rationalize irrational behavior. That's why I said you had to let all that come out and die down. Then I knew that a Jamie Brown does exist, so hopefully we would get this chance that we're getting now. To sit here and talk candidly and truthfully about what's going on. Like I said, we really want R. Kelly out of our lives completely. My daughter had every interview in order to let the fans that no relationship exists now. She is not married and she's going on with her life. She's an intelligent, bright, young girl who just wants a singing career. She has security at all times. The only reason why they're not here now is because, as you say, this was candid and in the home. I don't have any reason to fear you, Jaime. But believe me, Aaliyah stepping out anytime, anywhere has two security guards. She has a security of eight that can function at anytime.
Be under the impression that when I took over, that at that point a lesson well learned was that Aaliyah realized that she no longer has a private life. She's a public person and that's something that I guess any family of an artist who gets to her stature has to go through. No one realizes how public you are and that your life is not your own. She knows that her life is not her own.
J: So is Barry Hankerson not managing her at all?
AD: Barry is a part of the record label, which is Blackground.
A: He's the president.
AD: So when you hear Blackground's music, that's a subsidiary venture with Jive Records. Jive is our label l and Blackground is the production part of it. I'm Aaliyah's manager now. I'm her personal manager. It was the decision made and accepted in good faith due to the fact that I'm sure I can do a better job of managing my own child than anybody else.
A: Everything has been going beautifully since that time.
J: What about you, Rashad? How are you feeling about your sister?
R: I'm very proud of her. I love my sister dearly and we're very close. I just try to be with her and by her side in whatever she does. I just want to be there. I know she's going to do great so I just want to be with her.
J: Do guys ever ask you about her? "Man, can you give me her phone number?" So you hit' em in the head- or do you hit em in the mouth?
R: Well, like all brothers, I am protective. But I understand that being in this business she's seen by a lot of people. She's a pretty girl, anyway. She's going to be admired even more because of the business she's in. So I understand that and I let it roll off my back. I'm not going to let anybody hurt her.
It's now 1996 and Aaliyah had dropped her new album, One in a million, which I'm told is selling 70,000 copies a week. In case you don't know, that's pretty fantastic. I have to interview her again and I'm looking forward to seeing her daddy, Michael, whom I fell in love with when I was at their home in 1995. But he was not coming because he was taking his son, Rashad, to college.
Things are good for Aaliyah. She's more beautiful than ever. Her cousin Jomo, who is Barry Hankerson's son, joined us for lunch.
The 1996 Interview
J: How much did you get to write on this album? Did you get a chance to write at all?
A: No, I didn't write. I did some arranging. I arranged the Marvin Gaye remake. My brother and I did one song that we couldn't get done on time for the album, so we're going to put it on the B-side of one of the singles.
J: You all wrote the song?
A: He wrote the song and I did the melody and I arranged it.
J: What does that mean when you arrange?
A: Harmonies, different notes, structure.
J: Did you do all the harmonies on the album?
A: All the backgrounds? Yes. On the duet with Treach, Renee from Zhane is on one part with me in the background. She wrote my part on that song. And Missy does some background with me.
J: Who's Missy?
A: Missy works with Ten Point.
J: And she's on which song?
A: "A girl like you." that's on the first side.
J: You were working with my baby, Treach?
A: Yes. Treach is the best.
J: Who was the coolest to work with? Because you've worked with Jermaine Dupri too.
A: Well, I'm not going to pick who's best because I loved working with all of them. It was wonderful. I did make a lot of friends. I knew Jermaine before I went into the studio with him, so he was really cool. I got real cool with Vincent Herbert. He's a sweetheart. You cannot get mad at Vincent, and if you do, you won't stay mad at him. He came to Detroit.
J: What songs did he do?
A: He did "Never Giving up", "Choosey Lover," and "Got to give it up." I got real close with him. He came to Detroit for 2 months and we recorded. I got really close with Tim and Missy because they did half of the album. They did like 7 songs on the album. Darryl Simmons was wonderful. I mean I liked everybody.
Jamie, I'm telling you the album took almost a year to do. So between my junior year and the album, that's all I was doing. I got a chance to hang out with my friends and I went to homecoming last year. I was going to go to the prom. A senior had asked me. But I couldn't go because I had to do the TV commercial-the one coming out of the ground! [Laughing]
Vincent gave us the idea of coming up like out of an elevator, out of the ground. Then Blackgrond said, "Why don't you just come out of the ground like an earthquake?" It took all day to do that commercial and its hilarious because every time I watch it I say, "We were out there for eight hours for a thirty second commercial." We did it in Brooklyn Heights and it was fun. I was really amazed at how they made the ground look so real. I don't know how they made the ground, but they had a platform where they had the fake cement on top. I was on a dolly beneath and they pushed me up. They took a whole bunch of takes of that. There were plenty of times when I tripped and got caught. [Laughing] But it was fun.
J: What's it like when you're on the road?
A: Most of the time when I travel I really don't go to too many places because either I'm working or I'm interviewing. And when I go back to the hotel, I go to sleep. Recently, I did a show in Chicago and there was an after party in the hotel and my mom was like, "You go ahead and go." Me and Rashad, Tim, Missy, my dancer and friend Demetrius, and Tim's brother G and Marcus all went. So my parents let me go out and have fun as long as security's with me and I'm with a group.
J: Can you drive?
A: Jamie, I'll be 18 in January . I promised myself that by that time I will get my license. I don't have it yet because I really haven't had the time to go get it. I'm not even going to say that I can drive really well, yet. I can do a little something. I used to think when I was younger that by the time I was 16 I was going to have my car, my license, and everything. But when I hit 16, I was like, "No, because I'm working a lot and I want to be ready because a lot of kids get into accidents because they're not ready." So I promised that by the time I turn 18, I'm gonna have my license.
J: Do you intend to go to college?
A: I'm going to college too. I haven't decided where yet. I'm still thinking about it. If I don't go to my brother's school, I might try Manhattan School of Music, Vassar, Sarah Lawrence or Spelman. But I'm going to visit campuses and see. I still have my 4.0 average, but it's hard. I have a tutor. It's stressful, but it's important to me. That's why I want to go to college. I've always been on top of everything so I think I cause my own stress by being that way. I've always been very detailed, so fortunately I have a very supportive family. They tell me not to worry about things. The biggest pressure that I have is that I want to put my all into my career and I want to put my all into school. During the school year that's what's hard. That's the biggest pressure on me. Everything else is cool.
J: Boys done sweat you?
A: Boys? [Laughing] Jomo do you think boys sweat me?
Jo: I think so.
J: I think so too.
A: I have some people that, you know, come up to me or whatever. It's cool. I don't have a boyfriend or anything.
J: You don't have anybody that you like yet?
A: I have a lot of friends but I don't have a boyfriend. I don't go with anybody.
J: So dad being on the road with you is no different than anything else.
A: It's nice. He knows me better than anyone. Yeah, he's good to have as my manager because he's my dad, so he knows I'm not a morning person. So if he can, he'll be like, "Can we get stuff set up in the afternoon cause Aaliyah does not like getting up in the morning." You know he works me, but he's also lenient because I'm his baby girl, so it's good. He's cool to have as my manager.
J: Are you on any kind of exercise program or is this just the youth machine?
A: Well, I do exercise, but they're going to get me a trainer. I need the motivation cause there are times when I slack off. But most of the time I do my sit-ups, do my leg-ups. I've got to run. I really have to start doing that for the tour. I have to have my wind. But I'm about to get a trainer because I need the extra motivation. I need someone who's going to really get on me.
J: Who are you going to choose to go out on tour with, because I mean, some of these tours are really dangerous. You know what I'm sayin? You can't just put her out with anybody.
Jo: It'll be a real thorough process which we haven't even thought about yet.
J: You were talking about K-Ci the last time- that you like K-Ci. Have you seen his porno video? I hope not.
A: No. [Laughing]
J: You haven't seen it? With Tupac and Heather Hunter? [Laughing]
A: No. No, haven't heard about or seen that.
J: Well it's in porno stores. And you know How Do You Want It is really done with a porno director. It's Tupacs video, but K-Ci's in it with all these women.
A: No, I haven't heard about that.
J: Do you think you and Brandy will ever work together on a project?
A: That'll be interesting.
J: I think it would be cute.
A: That would be really really interesting.
J: Okay, so we got the first album and it was 24/7 no boyfriends. Do you sneak out at night?
A: No, I do not. [Laughing]
J: What would you be if you weren't singing? Would you manage Jomo? Cause you know he needs a manager.
A: [Laughing] Manage Jomo? I would stay in the entertainment on some level. If not acting, directing. Maybe writing music. Still have something to do with entertainment because I love it.
J: You're 17 now. You'll be 18 in January. When will you wear a dress?
A: [Laughing] You are so funny, Jaime. See, now you know me. You know me very well. When will I wear a dress? I don't know. I'ma surprise you one day.
J: What do your legs look like?
A: I have nice legs, don't you think so Jomo?
Jo: You have very nice legs. It's a family trait.
A: I just got some Nike tennis dresses. Very cute. I wore one in Atlanta when I went to a club there. I did radio, so a couple of people saw me with my little Nike dress and my little biking shorts. You know I still had on some shorts, but as far as wearing a skirt or anything, I don't think I'm going to do that anytime soon, honestly. That's not me.
J: You won't wear a cute little tight, fitted dress? So that it doesn't take you out of your dark mode.
A: No, not anytime soon. I'm telling you, I'm not going to do it.
J: You don't show your legs?
A: I wear skirts. I do it when it's like absolutely necessary. Like if I'm going somewhere and you can't wear pants.
J: Is it cause you don't like pantyhose? Pantyhose can be a strain.
A: Pantyhose are the absolute worst. I'm sorry. I can't stand 'em.
J: Do you ever wear heels?
A: Yeah, I've worn heels. Actually, I like heels.
J: We need to work on her and show that body. But its kind of cute that you don't. I think your daddy would kick your butt. We kind of know why that is. MH right? [Aaliyahs dads name is Michael Haughton.] Do you need normalcy in your life?
A: I think I have normalcy in my life by the simple fact that when I'm at home, I go to school. I mean, I don't go to classes. I go from 12 to 4, but I'm in the environment, so I see my friends when I have time. My friend, Valerie, will travel with me when she can. So I think I have some normalcy in my life.
J: You go to school?
A: I go into the school and I go into the office and my own room and work with my tutor, but during the breaks I can go into the cafeteria and chill with my friends. I'll see them, so I have some normalcy in my life.
J: How did your friends act when the rumors about you and R. Kelly started? Were they nice to you? How were they?
A: Oh, they didn't care. They were with me.
J: Were they like, "We know you"?
A: Yeah, they were like, "Aaliyah, we love you." I got a lot of support, even from fans. The letters I got were beautiful, which inspired me to put my all into this album. But they were like, "We don't care about what's going on. We love you. When are you coming out with your new album?
J: So do you read your fan mail?
A: Uh huh. I got a lot of it kind of late. The box didn't get sent to me and some letters were like from '94, '95, but I answered as many of the letters as I could.
J: Aaliyah, you have a lot of courage. That you would even come back and you never hid your face. You always gave the interviews. And your daddy deals with that a lot. I don't know if you remember that interview, but your father was just spectacular.
A: Yes, he was. I remember. We were sitting in the den.
J: What do you attribute your courage to?
A: Well, I'm young. There're too many things that I want to do in my life and I can't let anything knock me down. I love singing. I've been singing since I was six, this is what I want. You have to be strong in your convictions and what you want. And I'm a survivor. I think that's in my family. My grandfather's a survivor. He survived World War 2, the illness of my grandma and the death of my aunt. So it's in me and I was like I want this more than anything and I got a lot of support from my peers in the industry and all of that, so it was like, "I'm coming back just like my song says."
J: What do you mean, your grandfather survived World War 2?
A: He fought.
J: Was he hurt?
A: Back injury. Nothing major, though.
J: He got a backache from carrying all them weapons?
A: He came back all good. That's my grandfather.
J: Is he still alive?
A: Yes. Yes he is.
J: Aaliyah what would you tell young people about the realities of this business and the pitfalls? What are some of the things you think about? Do you have nightmares. Are you afraid?
A: As far as this business is concerned?
A: Naw, I don't wanna say that. I think there are negatives and positives in any career choice. If you choose to get in this business, you gotta be a strong person and I think it's important to have family around you and people that love you 'cause there are a lot of evils out there. People may try to control you, purposely bring you down and those are things you have to look out for. So those are some of the negatives, then there are the positives, especially if you love it.
J: But when kids are growing up its like, "Oh, Mom. you're making me wear this dress to school. Oh, it's the worst thing and I'll never have a friend again." They don't understand that you will grow up and probably never see those kids again. For someone to talk like you're talking, you have to realize that there is a future. That things come and go. How is it that you have that inside of you? Is that instilled from your mother?
A: That's family. I keep saying that. I can talk to her about anything. So when I would get upset I would talk to my parents. I would talk to my brother. And I've learned a lot in my years.
J: So did you get upset about not winning [when you were on "Star search"?]
A: It was a learning experience for me when I did not win. I was hurt, but I said, "You know. I was on 'Star Search' and that was something in itself," because the auditions to get on that show are tremendous. It was a great learning experience for me, but having my mom there to talk to me about it, you know, she was like, "It doesn't stop here." Not everything in life is going to be what you want. Even though I didn't win, that doesn't mean I'm not a good singer. That doesn't mean I'm not a good performer. That doesn't mean I don't have any talent.
J: What kind of person are you?
A: I'm a loyal personal. A loyal friend. I'm generous, down to earth, kind and very creative.
J: What do you mean your creative?
A: I'm always thinking about what I can do. Like with the second single, we don't know what the second single is yet, but I listen to the songs thinking, "What could be potential singles? What could I do in a video or in my stage show? What clothes would I wear," things like that.
J: What about things that make you upset?
A: As far as the business?? [Laughing]
J: Go ahead.
A: When things are set up...like my mom's really organized and she's gotten me really into that. And so, if something is set up on a schedule and someone adds something at the last minute, it gets me really mad. I'm like,"Jomo, you told me this was going on at one o'clock. What's going on?"
J: How does Jomo handle that?
A: Jomo's good. He knows how to deal with me. I'm not really bad and he knows that.
Jo: I just fix it.
A: He's Mr. Fix-it. He knows how to fix everything up.
J: You said something about the video" If your girl only knew?"
A: You know, I ride up with my girls on these motorcycles and..
J: You know how to ride a motorcycle?
Jo: Chauffeur driven.
A: Yeah, chauffer driven. You haven't seen the video? I'm mad that you haven't seen my video.
J: The reason I haven't seen your video is because when music and videos come in, the magazine's music people take the music. That's what happens.
A: But we only had four motorcycles when I got there and we were supposed to have six. We had told everybody like weeks ahead that we needed six motorcycles, so you know we got a little miffed. But it got fixed.
J: Can you cook?
A: Can I cook? Well I can make a couple of things. I ain't gonna say I can "throw down!" But you know I can make me some spaghetti. Make me a hamburger, cook breakfast...that's no biggy. But as far as big meals, I can't cook any steak or nothing like that. I could get by, if I had to.
J: If you were to get married, what kind of person is the guy getting?
A: Oh, he's gonna get the best. He'll get the best, but we'll have to get a maid and a cook. [Laughing]
J: You want children?
A: I would like to have kids. Or, I'd like to have a child; two at most.
J: You told me before that you believe in abstinence. Is this still true?
A: Heck yep!! When I get married.
J: So that must have really hurt you when people said that you were pregnant.
A: Oh gosh.
J: Then I heard the other day that you were pregnant twice.
A: I was pregnant twice?? That's special, isn't it? When you just hear stuff all the time? I heard that I always wore sunglasses because I had a lazy eye. I heard a whole bunch of reasons why I wore sunglasses.
J: Really? Tell me some more things that you hear.
A: The only thing I heard was about the sunglasses, and that I wore sunglasses because I had a lazy eye. I think that was it. There was another one, but I can't think of what it was. But it was about the sunglasses.
J: It really doesn't bother you?
A: Naw! You can't let it bother you. Gotta let it go in one ear and out the other.
J: Do you have high morals and integrity? Like, have you ever cheated on a test? What's the worst thing you ever did in school?
A: Let me see??
J: Tell the truth now.
A: I'ma tell the truth. The worst thing I ever did was...Let me see... I'm trying to think of what would be funny to tell.
J: What? Tell me Jomo.
A: What was one of the worst things I did in school, like you know, cheating on a test?
Jo: Naw, the only story I remember is when... and its nothing that Aaliyah did, but I remember the teacher did something to you.
A: Me and the teacher got into an argument. Oh yeah, I got into an argument with a teacher.
J: About what?
A: I had to get somebody out of class. My friend, Amber. I had to get her out of class because she had my friend Meachy's permission slip to go on a trip. Meachy was like "Go get my permission slip for me from Amber." So I said, "Oh okay, I'll go get it." So I said to the teacher, "Excuse me," and she was talking to another teacher. So I said, "Demetrius is trying to go on a trip and he won't be able to go if I don't get the permission slip from Amber. Can she be excused for one second to get his permission slip?" And she just went off on me. So it got into a big disrespect thing. We got it resolved, you know, my parents came up there and handled it.
J: So what did Diane [your mom] say. That's what I wanna know?
A: You know, I told her that I was upset with the teacher. I came right with the teacher. I said excuse me and she wasn't in her class or anything so, you know, I said excuse me. She was like "Well, you know since you respected her, she should have given you respect back." SO we were all right. We handled it.
J: Well do your parents always believe your right?
A: No, I mean I'm not perfect and I'm not always right. There's times when I've been wrong, but when I am right, they stand by me.
J: When was this time that you were wrong?
A: I'm trying to think. I'm sure there are plenty. Okay...When I was in the fifth grade, this boy was talking about me and I pushed him and I got a jug. I was wrong.
J: What's a jug?
A: A jug is detention
Jo: It stands for "Justice Under God"
J: That was the only fight you ever got in?
A: Yeah, that wasn't even really a fight 'cause I pushed him and the teacher caught me pushing him. I never got into a fight, though.
J: Why is it that you always have this hard image with the sunglasses and stuff and then you're just friendly?
A: Well, I know you, so I'm making you laugh. [Laughing!]
J: Every reporter has said that you're not like your image at all.
A: Well, I think that the image is a part of me. You know me. I wear the sunglasses, I wear the baggy pants, the hats, the whole nine. And you know, I may add a little for the excitement and the intrigue in the videos, but my family has told me that little air of mystery that surrounds me is for real. There are times that I won't tell you what I'm thinking and your like, "What's going on with you?" Am I not right?
A: Yeah that's really me. I'm a reserved person. I'm kind of shy.
J: So you haven't been telling me what you're really thinking the whole time I've been sitting up here talking to you?
A: You know what I'm talking about. [Laughing.] I'm saying there are moments when I get into my quiet bag. You know what I'm saying. You are the worst, Jamie! So, you know. its me.
J: Do you like this world?
A: Of course I like the world, but a kid has to grow up quickly in this society. You gotta grow up and you gotta be smart and there's a lot of things that I'd like to change to make the world a better place. Like with teenage pregnancy and adolescent sex. A lot of times I think its thrown on the kids. And to me, it shouldn't be that way.
J: Do you think we should have sex education?
A: Yeah, I do. I think it's something that we should be able to talk openly about. I talk to my parents about everything and I'm blessed to have a situation like that. So I'm aware of what's going on. It's just safer today- you have to be aware at a young age.
J: Do you think it should be a requirement for a person that has a baby to go through parenting classes?
A: I think it would be good. They have Lamaze and everything, so I think it would be good.
J: Is there anything that you would change in your life?
A: [Laughing.] No, nothing major. What's gone on in my life, the people I've had around me, I'm pretty happy with. So there's nothing I would change. I may go back and change how I took a test or something in school, but nothing major. Or how I acted one day.
J: How do you like being on Atlantic Records?
A: I like it. Its a great company.
J: Why did you choose Atlantic?
A: You know I'm signed to Blackground, so it was really their decision to go to Atlantic. Blackground had a joint venture with Jive Records and this year their contract was up. They wanted to move on and they chose Atlantic. So whatever decision they make, I make 'cause I know they're with me.
J: Who's Blackground? Is that you and your father?
Jo: That's my dad [Barry Hankerson.] He's the president, CEO, and owner. Totally black owned. We own our masters, which is different from a lot of other labels that they don't have direct ownership of their music. So that's a unique situation for us.
J: I know a lot of people were after Aaliyah when her contract was finishing up with Jive records. Interscope was after her too. So why did you feel that Atlantic was the best choice out of all the other record labels?
Jo: Well, Atlantic was the company that came to the table that would really give us the creative control to do what we really wanted to do-everything that we've done so far with the commercials and everything that we did. We wanted a situation where we could go to Aaliyah and say. "Hey, what do you want to do?" And she would say what it is and we would have the power and ability to implement exactly what she wanted.
J: I always thought that R. Kelly was a part of Blackground. He's not a part of that?
A: No, he has his own production company that's still affiliated with Jive.
A short time later, the interview ended. Aaliyah and I went to the bathroom to freshen up. We had, had a fun time. She told me I'm funny. I loved talking with her. I loved seeing her family. She is blessed.
1997 sister 2 sister magazine