In a conversation with Billboard earlier today, Aaliyah‘s cousin and close friend/collaborator Jomo Hankerson of Blackground Records clarified a few points about the planned posthumous LP and put to bed some of the rumors and miscommunications that have been swirling around ever since Drake announced he would be executive producing the project with his go-to engineer and producer Noah 40 Shebib.
First and foremost, Jomo–who runs Blackground with his father Barry Hankerson (Aaliyah’s uncle and mentor)–confirmed that an album is in fact in the works, in spite of statements to the contrary posted by Aaliyah’s brother Rashad Haughton to the official facebook page dedicated to her music. Slated to drop before the end of this year and comprising 16 unreleased songs and “fragments” from Aaliyah’s archive, the album will incorporate the work of a range of “contemporary artists” to update the older tracks–the first release from the late singer since 2002′s “I Care 4 U,” a compilation album which collected both previously released and unreleased recordings.
“We really felt like it was time. There’s a real new generation that doesn’t know her necessarily, and we wanted to continue her musical legacy with this new generation,” explained Hankerson. “That’s one of the reasons why we wanted to do very contemporary music. We didn’t want to make it a nostalgic project; we already did that with the ‘I Care 4 U’ album. The idea was to release new music for her diehard fans, and also reintroduce her music to a new generation that doesn’t really understand how much influence she has in the music that they’re listening to today.”
He denied however, that Drake would be executive producer of the project, contrary to the Canadian star’s announcement to that effect. To be exact he told Billboard that Drake and 40 would be “co-executive produce” the project along with himself and his father. In a follow up call, however, Hankerson apparently retracted that statement and clarified that Drake & 40 will appear on “more of the records” and that Shebib is “heavily involved” in reshaping the music, adding that Blackground reached out to the Canadian producer on the strength of his work with Alicia Keys (“Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready)”). Drake’s input on the track that became “Enough Said” seemed only “natural” and the label was so excited about the result that they released the stream before having a real strategy in place.
“This record ['Enough Said'] really kind of came sooner than we thought it was going to come, so it’s really the beginning of the creative process for us. We’ve got a record out while we’re still creating the project.
Hankerson went on to say that
“A lot of that is still up in the air, but I can tell you that Timbaland will definitely be involved, Missy will definitely be involved.”
Speaking directly to the dismay expressed by Timbaland, specifically, over Drake’s announcement and added that archival tracks featuring the input of both Missy and Tim were among the 16 tracks on the table and that Blackground would definitely want to get new input to “refresh” them (according to Billboard, Timbaland declined to comment for the story). Representatives from Reservoir Media Management–which has acquired a 500-song archive from Blackground in a deal that covers not only Aaliyah’s catalog but also music from Static Major and albums from JoJo, Timbaland, Magoo and Tank–said that there is enough material contained therein for two posthumous LPs, as well as “tons of old interviews, video, things that were shot before her passing”
props to BB