NOW STREAM THIS! is a look at a classic track that fans may have forgotten how much they love. This is an introduction for some, a reminder for others; a chance to point everyone to an underrated banger from a legendary act, and to get those streams up.
Aaliyah's classic 1996 album One In A Million made a highly-anticipated return to streaming services this Friday (Aug. 20) and fans are getting to revisit the brilliant project that announced the late R&B star's critically-acclaimed second act.
Her first album made her a star, but was sullied by subsequent controversy. Nonetheless, the 17-year old Aaliyah was already one of R&B's most compelling young artists when she re-emerged in 1996. But the singer was looking to reinvigorate her sound with something fresh, and she was put together with the burgeoning songwriting/production team of Timothy "Timbaland" Mosley and Missy "Misdemeanor" Elliott.
A pair of talented friends out of Virginia, Tim and Missy were also looking to kickstart a second act, of sorts. They'd cut their teeth as members of DeVante Swing's Swing Mob collective, working behind the scenes on projects for Swing's famed R&B quartet Jodeci. Now on their own, they were eager to showcase all they'd learned—and Aaliyah was the perfect muse for their unique new sound.
One In A Million would become a 1990s R&B classic on the strength of the musical marriage between Aaliyah and her new collaborators. ...Million's spirit sits comfortably somewhere between Janet Jackson and Mary J. Blige, but it's rich sonic atmosphere is all its own; it's legacy remains as one of the decade's most forward-pushing releases. And the beloved album features a bevy of hit singles like "If Your Girl Only Knew," "4-Page Letter" and the title track - as well as the underrated single "Got To Give It Up."
Even as the album highlights the genius of Tim and Missy, "...Give It Up" is one moment on the project that wasn't their brainchild.
Produced by Vincent Herbert and Craig King, Aaliyah's take on Marvin Gaye's 1977 classic "Got To Give It Up" took the late soul icon's percolating dancefloor anthem (originally conceived as Gaye's reaction to disco) and transplanted it right into mid-90s Hip-Hop soul. Over a sample of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," Aaliyah coos Gaye's lyrics about breaking free from social anxiety and "really gettin' down," as Rick the Ruler chimes in with some lauds for Baby Girl.
And The Ruler wouldn't lie to ya/
Whack singin' huns all squirm at the sight of ya...
Us? We some more 'Ladi Dadi'ens/
Lemme let you go/
So you can attend to your audience..."
Rick was recruited to contribute to the track while on work release. The rap star who'd broken big in the 1980s via early hits with Doug E. Fresh as well as his classic, multiplatinum debut album The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick was serving the last days of a five year prison sentence. His collaboration with Aaliyah would help re-introduce Slick Rick to the masses after his extended hiatus; setting the stage for his 1999 comeback album The Art of Storytellin.'
That's the history. It's truly a dope track that features two uniquely influential artists crossing paths and pivotal times in their respective careers. With One In A Million now readily available again, what better time to fall in love with one of Baby Girl's best covers?