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Aaliyah’s posthumous release enrages fans with all-male lineup

Aaliyah was unstoppable — until all the voices on her posthumous record were men. The highly anticipated album “Unstoppable” is set to be released this month nearly 21 years after her death. But fans are already critical of the tribute, which features an all-male lineup including Chris Brown, Snoop Dogg, Drake, Ne-Yo, Future and the Weeknd. “Imagine having the opportunity to create a new Aaliyah album with an entire generation of women that were directly influenced (Ciara, Teyana, Tinashe, Normani, Jhene, CxH, H.E.R., Sevyn, etc.) but instead we get Snoop Dogg, Neyo, Future, [Chris Brown] a weird Weeknd song … yikes,” an exhausted fan lamented on Twitter. “Like no females at all??!!” another bewildered fan wrote. “Its mind boggling. Like I wanna listen cause it’s Aaliyah but majority of me really don’t wanna hear it.” Aaliyah fanatics were already disappointed last month by “Poison,” the only released track off the album, which features the Weeknd. Her legacy defenders called the song one of “the worst” songs they ever heard, critiquing the vocal mixing. The Weeknd sampled the late singer’s “Rock the Boat” on his 2011 track “What You Need,” yet Aaliyah’s loyal followers are convinced “no one sampling her music/voice is doing anything worth a damn.” Fans were also reeling at the inclusion of Brown, Rihanna’s abusive ex, given Aaliyah’s own troubled past with R. Kelly, who was convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking. “Instead of featuring any of the Black female artists who were influenced by Aaliyah they featured … a bunch of predators and abusers?” jabbed one fan. “So disgusting considering what she went through.” In 2009, a violent altercation between Brown and then-girlfriend Rihanna surfaced online, earning him a felony assault conviction and probation with community service. Since the incident, the 32-year-old rapper has been linked to multiple alleged assaults and violence. Most notably, Brown’s ex Karrueche Tran received a restraining order against the rapper in 2017 after he threatened her and, more recently, Brown was accused yet again of hitting a woman in his Los Angeles home last year. “The body of work is pure hip-hop and R&B,” Barry Hankerson, Aaliyah’s uncle, told Billboard about the upcoming record. “I think it’s going to be big with urban and R&B stations. Some of the people that Aaliyah liked are on the album. She loved Snoop Dogg, who’s done a great record in collaboration with Future. They’re going in now to refresh their vocals. Ne-Yo gave us an excellent song; also Drake.” Aside from the features contention, other superfans were more irritated by the mere idea of a posthumous release, which feels, according to one Twitter user, like a “cash grab.” “I just don’t like the idea putting out so much heavily edited music after they have died period,” tweeted another. “Unless the songs were mostly done it just bothers my spirit.” In the Billboard interview, Hankerson admitted he was not in contact with Aaliyah’s estate. “We hope they’re happy. Our door and our phone is always available if there are any comments they’d like to make about anything,” he offered. “I just hope that out of the very terrible thing that happened to my niece that people can heal.”




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