Rapper-singer Drake is no stranger to expressing his love for the late singer Aaliyah Haughton: he has a tattoo of her face on his back and most recently got a tat of “416” on his right side where the “4” is a cross between the number “1.” The tat is a nod to his Canadian area code (416) and Aaliyah’s birthday (the 16th of January, or “116”). He wears an earpiece with her image on it during performances, and sampled her hit version of “At You Best (You Are Love)” on his song “Unforgettable.”
Back in late March, Drake appeared on the Tim Westwood radio show and hinted at an upcoming Aaliyah project. “I have some great Aaliyah news coming soon,” he said. “Just some special things. Great things for music, period.” The writer behind “I Refuse” and “What If” from her final album, producer J. Dub, tweeted that an Aaliyah project was in the works earlier that month. However, her brother Rashad Haughton later said in a statement, “no official album [is] being released and supported by the Haughton family.”
Henceforth, the speculation begins despite lack of confirmation. Drake is rumored to be debuting a new track with Aaliyah’s vocals during a performance at Toronto’s OVO Festival on Sunday August 5, thought to be a preview of his involvement as executive producer on the project.
But is Drake’s mere fandom enough to give him full reigns on the album? Some are skeptical about an Aaliyah album without the presence of those who were musically closest to her: producers Timbaland and Missy Elliott. Timbaland has went on the record expressing discontent with the idea of an Aaliyah album without his and Missy’s presence.
“I know they’re trying to drop some Aaliyah records, but if he do do it, it should be with me and him and Missy,” Timbaland said in an interview with New York’s Power 105.1 (WWPR-FM). “I don’t know what’s going on, but the proper way to do that would be for me, him and Missy to be all on the record. I produce it. But to put it on his album or to put it on his record or whatever, however it be, it would just not be right.”