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Aaliyah's Estate Shares Statement Addressing Catalog Release

Aaliyah's estate released a statement directly addressing Barry Hankerson, her uncle/former manager's attempt at announcing forthcoming music releases.

Late Wednesday evening, after a website surfaced that has reportedly been traced to Aaliyah's uncle, Barry Hankerson, her uncle/former manager, the late singer's estate released a statement. The statement provides a glimpse into issues that her estate has had with Hankerson for roughly two decades.

“For 20 years we have battled behind the scenes, enduring shadowy tactics of deception,” the statement reads, “now, this unscrupulous endeavor to release Aaliyah’s music without transparency or full accounting to the estate compels our hearts to express a word – forgiveness,” but pledges to “continue to defend ourselves and her legacy lawfully.”

The statement is a direct response to a social media post from Blackground 2.0 Records. Two months ago, Blackground 2.0 Records, a label whose name is derived from Hankerson's original record company launched social media accounts. "Aaliyah is coming" was the promise from the social media accounts. Per Variety, Hankerson has been aiming to release a 2012 album featuring "rare Aaliyah material" executive produced by Drake for years.

Social media posts from both Blackground 2.0 and Aaliyah's estate appeared to be working to release Aaliyah's music to streaming platforms. But, this new statement makes it clear that there are internal issues.

The idea of her music being released to streaming platforms is a complicated dilemma even with the popularity of her catalog. All three of her albums recorded under Blackground have been certified double platinum, but each of them was distributed by a different label: the first being Age Ain't Nothing but a Number which Jive holds the rights to, this album appears on streamers, One in a Million distributed by Atlantic, and lastly her self-titled 2001 album by Virgin now owned by Universal.

Hankerson has been pushing to release reportedly features 16 unheard tracks and was executive produced by Drake and Noah "40" Shehib. Timbaland, Lil Wayne, Kanye West and Drake are a few of the features that appear on the record. It was announced in 2012, that same year, "Enough Said" with Drake was released, despite that Timbaland, Elliott, and Aaliyah's estate distanced themselves from the project.

On Wednesday, a mysterious website titled "Aaliyah Is Coming" popped up potentially alluding to the release of Aaliyah’s entire catalog. 

Nearly a year ago, the Detroit-raised singer’s estate announced that her catalog which includes two of her biggest albums One in a Million and the self-titled Aaliyah would arrive on streamers in the coming months. It’s common knowledge that her uncle Barry Hankerson owns the master’s to each of her albums besides her debut, Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number. The first album mainly created in collaboration with the defamed singer R. Kelly is available on DSPs.

A statement from Aaliyah's family released in 2020 read:

“We are excited to announce that communication has commenced between the estate and various labels about the status of Aaliyah’s music catalogue,” the estate said in a statement. “As well as its availability on streaming platforms in the near future. Thank you for your continued love and support. More updates to come.”

For years fans of the late singer have been calling for the release of her music on streaming platforms. This year marks the 20th anniversary of her death. The mystery site could be one tiny clue leading to the release of her catalogue. 

In a few weeks Kathy Iandoli, veteran writer and journalist is releasing Baby Girl: Better Known as Aaliyah. The book will center the life and career of the globally renowned act, but it will also delve into her earliest beginnings. Timbaland, Missy Elliott, and the late producer Static Major who were instrumental in her rise within the entertainment industry will also be touched on in the upcoming book. 

Aaliyah’s family was not involved in the making of Baby Girl which will be available on August 17. 

Head to aaliyahiscoming.com for more information. Stay tuned here for more updates.

This article was originally published on August 4, 2021. It was updated on August 5.