Twenty seconds into “Enough Said,” the posthumous Aaliyah single that Drake released Sunday, it's impossible not to feel an eerie chill.
When the low-end sounds of Drizzy’s longtime producer Noah "40" Shebib open up to reveal a hypnotic percussion, Aaliyah's silky falsetto breathes a haunting life into the track.
"I can tell it's somethin' up with you, tell me do you wanna talk about, talk about … I hate to see you feel this way," she coos effortlessly over the beat.
More than 10 years after Aaliyah's death, her voice -- by way of vocal tracks left recorded but previously unheard -- is finally being heard outside an all-too-abbreviated discography.
After countless rumors about posthumous releases, the idea of getting a new album of vaulted works seemed unrealistic. Drake and 40 have now offered hope in a little under four minutes, but the effort is not without controversy.
For the last week, the blogosphere has reignited with talk that a project is in the works -- with Drake at the helm as executive producer. Obviously, the news struck discord with Aaliyah fans, as the singer’s name (and music) have long been most closely associated with collaborators and friends Missy Elliott and Timbaland.
They didn't put this track together, which instantly polarized Aaliyah's fans, particularly on Twitter, where the song became a trending topic and sparked a range of emotions.
Some found it seemingly blasphemous that the first taste of an official project lacked the two heavyweights who helped Aaliyah both define and reinvent the sound of ’90s urban music; others were just grateful to hear something new from the singer who died in a plane crash in the Bahamas in 2001.
“Anything Aaliyah-related needs to have @Timbaland and @MissyElliott covering it. They actually knew her,” popular blogger @KidFury tweeted after the song’s release. Another fan, @iAmKessa24, wrote “ive not waited this long just to diss it. hope the haughton fam gave it greenlight.”
Drake’s presence -- he offers a verse with his usual struggling-with-fame-pathos -- was equally as divisive for fans hoping for a completely solo track.
But to be fair, this is just one track. After Aaliyah's death, executives at her label, Blackground Records, told The Times that she had “recorded enough material for at least one more album.” A year after her death, Blackground issued “I Care 4 U,” a posthumous greatest-hits package featuring six previously unreleased songs from sessions with Timbaland, Teddy Bishop and another longtime collaborator, Static Major, who died in 2008.
Although future involvement of Missy and Timbaland and further details of the release remain unknown (the label doesn't have an official website, though it uploaded the song on Soundcloud), Drake still deserves to be applauded for the track.
His love of Baby Girl is no secret and that passion is evident in “Enough Said,” and no doubt whatever else he is able to contribute to the project.
Sure, he’s made himself an easy target for bloggers, with tribute tattoos and open letters to the singer he never met, but rarely do artists get the chance to revive their inspirations, certainly not as deftly as he's done with the track.
There aren’t many acts out right now with the ability to channel the breathy falsetto and innovative, genre-blending beats that made Aaliyah groundbreaking for her time. The song feels current, but could also fit nicely on her final self-titled 2001 album, which still manages to brim with urgency.
With “Enough Said,” Drizzy and 40 managed to bring Aaliyah back -- even if its only for four minutes.
Listen to the track here. Drizzy's verse is NSFW.