Remembering Aaliyah, 1979-2001: Missy Elliott talks to EW about her friend and collaborator


Image Credit: Wild 1/PR Photos

Believe it or not, today marks a full decade since Aaliyah Dana Haughton died at 22 after a horrific Bahamian plane crash.

The singer and actress had just released her self-titled album a month prior and was set to star in The Matrix sequels. One of the people who aided in her rise to stardom as a songstress was frequent collaborator and friend Missy Elliott.

The artist produced several hit records for Aaliyah during her career and like many, still feels her presence today.

“It doesn’t feel like it’s been 10 years because Aaliyah’s leaving is still fresh in our minds and always will be,” Elliott tells EW from a Virginia recording studio. Numerous images of the fallen star come to mind when Missy’s asked about her. But she misses a few things particularly.

“What I will miss the most about Aaliyah is her laugh and smile. She could light up any room,” Ellliott recalls. “I miss that from her. I’ll also miss recording with her because she wasn’t ever scared to push boundaries as an artist.”

Missy believes Aaliyah would still be knocking down doors, topping the charts, and bringing cash into box offices is she were alive today.

“If Aaliyah was still with us she would be setting trends as she always did and breaking down barriers. Her music and acting career would have been exploding out the roof because she was already on her way to that place.”

Missy also gave us a list of her favorite Aaliyah tracks. Check their videos after the jump:

“Are You That Somebody”

“One in a Million”

“If Your Girl Only Knew”

“Rock the Boat”

What are some of your favorite Aaliyah songs, readers? And how do you remember her? Share in the comments section.

Mourning Aaliyah
Aaliyah Goes ‘Behind the Music’
The Plane Truth
EW’s review of her last album, Aaliyah

Comments (122 total) Add your comment
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  • Lindsay

    I loved her rendition of Journey to the Past from the movie Anastasia, she was an amazing performer!

    • CineCzarina


    • Rob

      Her best song was I will Be there for You.

  • Nick T

    4 page letter

    • Rob

      Her previous album, Move it Move it, was little known by average listeners of her work, but really set the stage for her future work as an Artist.

  • Jersey Fan

    She had a lovely voice & she was sexy without over doing it… RIP

    • Tyrone

      She was as sexy as she was creative.

  • Dr. Linus

    Her last album was fantastic. I know people say the term “tragic” in these types of situations but it’s apt. She was one talented lady for sure and beautiful to boot.

  • Megan

    I remember the morning I woke up to the news. SO SAD. She was so talented, mature and sweet. Can’t believe it’s been ten years

  • fancypants

    I always wonder about Aaliyah and I feel like she would be a huge presence in the music world if she were still alive today. She was an amazing dancer and had a sweet, pleasant, soothing voice. Fave songs: I Miss You, Are You That Somebody?, Try Again, Journey to the Past (she performed it at the Oscars!) and Back and Forth.

    • fancypants

      and “Come Back in One Piece”

      • Yessica

        I love her music. She would definitely be a force to be reckoned with today. :,(

      • Rob

        I miss the time where I could just listen to a song and not worry about what it meant and I could just stare off in the distance all slack jawed in complete blissful ignorance. Those were the days my friends.

  • Roni

    So many good songs from her but my favorite is probably I care for You…. Aww its still sad even 10 years later RIP…

    • Jim

      Her best song was I miss You so Much. And the other song that she did that was even better was, I am so Happy because of You. And the other song she did that was really ok was You are the Best. Such talent. Such a songwriter. Deeply deeply missed.

  • Fatima

    It’s actually insane how solid Aaliyah’s catalog was. Listening to all the albums today and just blown away by the quality. By far some of the very best R&B of the last 20 years.

    • Fatima

      That said, “4 Page Letter” will always have a special place in my heart. But those vaguely rockish Nine Inch Nails gone R&B tracks on her last album (“What If” “I Can Be”) were pretty amazing. She was always set precedents instead of following them.

      • Belle

        I remember her saying she was a huge Nine Inch Nails fan. So ironic, I was listening to the radio today and they played Aaliyah’s Miss You. I have been humming that song all day and do not know why. I did not know it has been 10 years.

      • Sherry

        From various accounts, she was set to work with Trent Reznor on a project. That would have been ahead of it’s time. She really would have pushed boundaries. I can’t believe it’s been 10 yrs. She was such a rare artist. Every cd she had was excellent, loved by critics. Her absence is still felt. RIP Aaliyah.

      • Tyrone

        Trent once remarked that she was one of his greatest inspiration and thought she was a visionary when it came to song writing ability.

  • Candy Campbell

    I Love All Aaliyah”s Music But If I Had To Choose I Would Say I Dont Wanna Be We Love And Miss You Aaliyah

  • Sue1

    Are You That Somebody was my favorite song in ’98. I wasn’t her target audience at all, but this beautiful young woman’s voice touched me, and I’m still saddened by her death.

    • Ap

      Definitely…I remember dancing to this in my senior year of high school.

      • Tyrone

        It wasn’t quite as good as her other hit, I am in love with you. Either that song, or the other song she did that was, You have nice Eyes.

  • JoAnne

    Aaliyah>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Lady Gaga. Lady Gaga should have been on that plane instead.

    • vashti

      I agree

      • cjhunt79


      • JoAnne

        @cjhunt79 Let me guess, Lady Gaga was mute for 48 hours too after Aaliyah’s death?

    • Ana170

      That’s a bit harsh to wish someone dead because you don’t like their music. It should have been that no one died on that plane.

    • asher

      JoAnne, that is really classless thing to say about anybody. You really have issues if you wish anyone to die in a plane crash. Get a life.

    • e4ia

      You are 100% pure trash.

    • Amy

      I think Lady Gaga was about 13 when Aaliyah died. How nice of you to wish death on a child.

  • vashti

    Aaliyah was one of the best! She was my role model and I believe if she was still alive the spot light would be on her. I know its weird but I actuall think she would be better than beyonce and all the rest because that how wonderful her talent was

    • Nelson

      Why compare her to Beyonce. It isnt necessary they were two TOTALLY DIFFERENT artists, Beyonce is pop and Aaliyah was R&B soul. There is A DIFFERENCE so don’t compare.

      • depro

        How did you come to that conclusion? They both cross-over.

  • PiratesDaughter

    Her music was awesome and she was a rising star. She’s very missed.

    • Tyrone

      She was a point in a million points of light. Brighter than the brightest star in the night sky. A foghorn to the lost ships in the night. She’s very very missed.

  • Jeremy

    Aaliyah was such a wonderful artist and really did set trends. I remember watching her “We Need a Resolution” video with the snakes it was so hot! When Britney Spears used a snake in her 2001 VMA performance I couldn’t help but think that Aaliyah did it first and did it better

    • asher

      I agree Jeremy, that is probably her best video IMO.

    • Dave

      I love We Need a Resolution. Definitely one of my favorite Aaliyah songs.

    • Rob

      It wasn’t as good as her other song, We need to Do Lunch soon. That was a good one.

  • Terrence

    I’m a fan of “It’s Whatever” off of “Aaliyah” I remember hearing it in 10th grade and at the time we were reading “Their Eyes Were Watching God” and I was the only black kid in my class (so pretty much the only person that showed interest in the book). I was really into this book. So much so I made a connection between “It’s Whatever” (the way the song was delivered, the southern feel to it, and the lyrics) and the relationship between Janie and Tea Cake. It was a surprise to both me and my teacher…

    • asher

      That is such a beautiful song Terrence, totally agree with you on that one!

    • BilliamE

      Terrence, also one of my favorites. I feel like that song transcends genres and time. It really saddens me that we’ll never get the opportunity to hear where Aaliyah would have gone with her music…

    • Tyrone

      My favorite song that she did was, You have a nice Body.

    • jason

      rip aaliyah

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