So Aaliyah was pretty amazing, yeah?
Fuck, no one is talking about where they were when they heard Aaliyah died. I was visiting Cornell’s campus with a friend the week before school started. (I wound up going to Ithaca College, but never actually toured the campus while I was there.) There was some kind of “experimental ice cream” shop there, and I believe we were having a butter and cake mixological nightmare (come to think of it, I’m not sure if we ate this, or if it was merely described to us). Someone behind the counter said, “Did you guys hear that Aaliyah just died in a plane crash?” I remember wondering about how big the plane was, who else was on it. I seem to remember being concerned that Timbaland might have been on the plane, too. But what I actually said was, “Huh. Wow. That really sucks.”
I didn’t actually listen to much Aaliyah music until much later, though I came to realize in hindsight that I’d known a lot of it pretty well. At the time I was thinking mostly of “Are You That Somebody,” though I don’t think I would have been able to tell you that’s what it was called. I just referred to it as “the one with the baby.” As opposed to “the one with the frog thing” (Ginuwine’s “Pony”).
I was so naive. Little did I know what horrors the next ten years of Timbaland productions, cynically misdirected at artists not even related to Aaliyah, would bring.*
As a post-script, I was also eating ice cream when I learned that Amy Winehouse died. Similarly overstuffed, but much better quality (Franklin Fountain in Philly). A poor elementary schooler and her mother, who were participating in a conference with me, had to sit there as I ranted about celebrity culture, chocolate and peanut butter ice cream dripping down my tightly-clenched fists.
*Am I the only person in the universe that actually likes the Chris Cornell/Timbaland album?
The baby is a quite popular stock sound. The first time I heard “Are You That Somebody,” I recognized it immediately from one of those “___ Games for Windows!” compilations. (24 games, in this case.)