Albums: Aaliyah

Aaliyah, Blackground
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It's taken seven years, but Aaliyah has finally surpassed the effortless charm of "Down With the Clique". And she's done so by going to the opposite extreme. R Kelly may have served her well as a producer (and more) when she was a teenager, but once he started to believe he could fly, it was time to move on. This time, she's hooked up with Timbaland, and Aaliyah is packed with his trademark staccato beats and scalpel-sharp strings. In many ways, this album is the true successor to Destiny's Child's Writing on the Wall (rather than their own Survivor); so much so, in fact, that you could choose to hear it as an "answer record". Further evidence that black pop is the avant garde.