One of 2014’s more contentious releases has been canned for good.
In early 2012, paid-up fanboy (and Aaliyah tattoo owner) Drake posted a “new” Aaliyah track, laying the deceased singer’s vocals over a beat by his production confrere Noah ’40′ Shebib. The track appeared to confirm rumours that Drake and 40 were executive producing a new posthumous album from the singer – something ostensibly confirmed by Aaliyah’s cousin Jomo Hankerson later that year. For the most part, the public reaction has ranged from suspicious to downright prickly, and Aaliyah’s brother, regular collaborator Timbaland and DMX have all publicly spoken out against the release.
Only last month, Drake was sharing audio snippets from the record. Speaking to Vibe, however, Shebib has confirmed that the album has now been cancelled. Shebib claims that he “wasn’t comfortable” with the “stigma” attached to the release: “The world reacting to Drake’s involvement so negatively, I just wanted nothing to do with it. That was a very sad experience for me.” The final straw was apparently when Aaliyah’s mother went public saying she didn’t want the album released, after which Shebib “walked away very quickly.”
Shebib claims that, contrary to reports, Timbaland had tacitly green-lit the release: “I think that was Tim taking the position of, ‘I’m not going to stop you. If you’re not going to do it, that’s your decision.'”
Shebib also sheds some light on the background to the controversial release;
“Aaliyah’s label Blackground—the Hankersons, her uncle and cousin—came to me and said if she was around she’d want you to do this [posthumous] project. I’ve been obsessed with Aaliyah forever, and I know Drake has his relationship with her. But that opportunity was mine. Drake said, “Can I do it with you?” and I was like, “Of course, we’ll do it together.””
Aaliyah passed away in a plane crash in The Bahamas in 2001. She was 22.