Yes, that headline is a quote from “hip-hop & B” artist T-Pain who is back with a new mixtape titled The Iron Way. The “Buy U A Drank” singer has been on a mission to show the world that he really can sing and doesn’t need Auto-Tune (an audio processor used to tune vocals and/or instruments to a specific note). While many have been surprised that he can actually carry a tune on his own, others are not as impressed and do not consider him a true singer. The latter criticism has been recently expressed in the twitter-verse as one of his new tracks “Girlfriends,” which features vocals from Detroit’s own “Baby Girl” Aaliyah, drew much flack from fans who felt Pain is not worthy of being on a song with the late songstress.
At his listening party for The Iron Way, T-Pain discussed the feedback from those who aren’t pleased with the collabo. “First of all, let me just say that a lot of people are pissed off about [the song] for some reason. I’m seeing a lot of people directly say, ‘He doesn’t deserve her vocals.’” Now here’s where things get dicey, Pain went on to speak about Aaliyah’s legacy. “I’m not trying to discredit Aaliyah in any kind of way. But you know how sometimes people die… and they’ve been an a**hole their whole life, but when you go to their funeral it’s like, ‘This guy was the greatest man ever….’ It’s like because she’s passed, nobody is deserving. If she were still alive, then everybody would’ve been like, ‘Oh! She tryna be Beyonce!’ But now that she’s passed, it’s like ‘Nobody could be her! Nobody could be her!’
Now I am not sure if T-Pain is right or wrong for saying what he said, but I can say that I am glad that this conversation has been brought up. At least once a year I hear someone question whether the Aaliyah legacy has been inflated or if it’s deserved.
There is no denying Aaliyah’s beauty, style and influence on the hip-hop and R&B culture. In 1996, she released her second album One in a Million and went on to pioneer a new style of music. This album provided a platform for the then unknown rapper, Missy Eliott and her partner Timbaland, who was just starting to make a name for himself. Since its initial reception, the album has been recognized by writers and music critics as redefining the genre coming into the late 1990s and solidifying Aaliyah’s position as a key figure in R&B music. In a retrospective review, Slant Magazine said that it is “undoubtedly one of the most influential R&B albums of the ’90s,” and credited it for establishing “Aaliyah and the Timbo family as undeniable hip-hop forces.
While some may question Aaliyah’s icon status, her impact on a genre and culture cannot be denied. I believe most of her fans are upset that T-Pain’s new song with Aaliyah is nothing innovative and sounds like something she would be far beyond artistically. There are many who speculate as to what Aaliyah would sound like in the present, and if solo Beyonce would be the superstar she is today had she lived. One thing we do know is that with only three albums and two films to her credit there is still room to wonder what further impact Aaliyah would’ve had, had she not left this world so soon.