One in a Million (1996) by Aaliyah
Written by Jeff Ramella on November 25, 2018
Classic Album Review by Yazmenne Archer
Three words. Princess of R&B. Gone but never forgotten, Aaliyah Haughton was a gem to this world and though she is no longer with us, she gave the music industry and this world a sound like no other. At the tender age of 15, she was singing with the likes of R.Kelly and though her career began with hits like “Back and Forth, “At Your Best (You Are Love),” and “Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number,” her union with producers/artists Timbaland and Missy Elliot created magic and magic like that doesn’t just disappear. When they got together, it was like R&B and Hip-Hop had discovered a missing key to a box of talent that desperately needed to be opened. She unlocked that case and what was revealed was something that is still present with us today. It is what I call “the bounce” and once you hear it, you’re taken through a rhythm of beats that is so powerful that you can feel your heart mimicking it. Even if you don’t remember the words, that bounce will stick with you and you’ll be bobbing your head in a groove that you didn’t even know was within you.
One in a Million is and was one of those albums that as hard as anyone tried, could never be remade or copied. It’s origin came from the raw passion of three individuals trying to express themselves in a way that was new to R&B/Hip-Hop during the late nineties. With the ad-libs and background vocals of Missy Elliot introducing the song, Aaliyah came in smoothly for “Hot Like Fire” delivering a tuneful chorus that left us nodding in agreement as she sung, “…you can’t resist.” While this kept an upbeat and joyful tempo, it slowed down and we were taken aback once the next song on the tracklist, “One in a Million,” had more of a chilling effect as it soothed our senses with the sounds of a whistling wind and repetition of a bang. Though it seemed as if it was a tumultuous start to the song, we were easily corrected as her serenade effortlessly blended into the soul of the song. One of her most favorably known songs, it has been sampled by popular artists for years as they have always stayed true to her reminiscent words. Towards the end of the album, listeners are reminded of a painful heartbreak in “The One I Gave My Heart To,” and in recollection of those gripping questions: “How could the one I gave my heart to, break my heart so bad? How could the one who made me happy, make me feel so sad?” What Aaliyah had was something special, a sound that you could instantly fall in love with, and through her voice, she will always live on.
Favorite tracks: “One in a Million,” “If Your Girl Only Knew,” “Hot Like Fire,” “4 Page Letter”