A long-running battle between the estate of the late R&B singer Aaliyah and her uncle/ former manager and label chief Barry Hankerson broke into the open on Wednesday after teasers about forthcoming music were posted online.
On Wednesday night, the Estate of Aaliyah Haughton issued a strongly worded statement about the unsavory tactics used by those who are trying to release unauthorized projects associated with the late artist. The message reiterated the estate’s commitment to protecting Aaliyah’s legacy, but cautioned fans that some would try to attack their collective character.
“… For 20 years we have battled behind the scenes, enduring shadowy tactics of deception with unauthorized projects targeted to tarnish,” the statement read. “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. 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.”
The estate went on to say they strive for “closure” so they can continue their mission to grow the “Aaliyah Memorial Fund and other creative projects that embody Aaliyah’s true essence.”
Aaliyah’s brother Rashad Haughton also shared the statement to his account.
The message doesn’t specify the individuals in question but it was posted shortly after Blackground Records began hinting at the release of Aaliyah’s music on streaming services. The imprint just launched the website AaliyahIsComing.com, and has been promoting it across social media using the hashtag #AaliyahIsComing.
? Blackground Records hint at the imminent release of Aaliyah’s discography on streaming platforms with the launch of new website, social media accounts, and the hashtag #AaliyahIsComing. pic.twitter.com/T7NUmM2w5q
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) August 4, 2021
Blackground Records was co-founded by Aaliyah’s uncle Barry Hankerson in 1993 with Aaliyah as its first signee. The imprint shut down following the singer’s death in 2001, and Hankerson has maintained ownership of the singer’s masters ever since.
Though it remains unclear why Aaliyah’s music has been mostly absent on streaming services, her estate claims they have tried to make her work more widely accessible; however, it’s been a difficult process because they do not own her discography.
“We hear you and we see you,” read a statement posted on Aaliyah’s official Twitter earlier this year. “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. 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 music.”
— Aaliyah (@AaliyahHaughton) January 15, 2021
Stay tuned as more information becomes available.
At this point we are never getting music on streaming.