Since it is the 15th anniversary of the passing of legendary R&B artist, Aaliyah, this week’s edition of RESPECT. the classics is dedicated to Aaliyah’s 1994 debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number.
If you ask a good amount of people what was one of their favorite R&B records from the ’90s, Aaliyah’s debut would probably be brought up in the discussion. And that’s due to how bold Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number was at the time. Released when Aaliyah was just 15 years old, this LP broke boundaries on how to mature a young artist’s lyrics could be at the time.
The timeless “At Your Best” is still one of the more memorable time stakes from the ’90s era. The lyrics from the title track make it hard to believe that the Detroit native is only just a teenager:
“You want to keep yourself from me
When I don’t have the strength
I’m just a mirror of what I see.”
For most listeners, Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number was also the introduction of Missy Elliot. The Virginia emcee is featured on a handful of in this LP. The songs “Throw Your Hands Up” and “No One Knows How To Love Me Quite like You Do,” showcase Aaliyah and Missy’s incredible chemistry together.
No holding back now is the time, to get busy
So take me to the bridge- Aaliyah “Throw Your Hands Up”
Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number, even to this day, sonically holds up and has aged gracefully compared to most ’90s R&B albums. This is mostly because of the iconic R. Kelly‘s fine tuning on the LP.
Kelly chose the right people to showcase Aaliyah’s talents for the album. Extra P is also credited for the amazing track “Down With The Clique.” This record’s arrangement has a boom bap bassline layered with colorful harmonies that really put Aaliyah’s vocals on center stage. This record just like many others on the LP all showcased Aaliyah’s fearless attitude when it came to making the music she wanted to.
Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number is a classic because it was our first glimpse of a star being born. Track-by-track, the subject matter of Aaliyah’s debut becomes more engaging. Her maturity, even at the young age of 15, showed the world what type of potential Aaliyah had.
Even till the end, Aaliyah was a trendsetter—not just by the clothes she wore or who she was in a relationship with. It was Aaliyah’s music that would leave a lasting impression in the lives of people she touched.
R.I.P Baby Girl
Aaliyah Dana Haughton 8/25/2001