Aaliyah: Hot Like Fire

Aaliyah’s second album One in a Million (released two years after she escaped her illegal marriage to R Kelly, who produced her 1994 debut) has—20 years after her death—arrived on streaming services. With production from various individuals including Rodney Jerkins, Craig Kallman, Barry Hankerson and Jomo Hankerson, the album sounds just as futuristic and dynamic as it did three decades ago. Aaliyah’s soft and smooth vocals float along the gritty, pounding bass lines. Missy Elliot and Timbaland wrote “4 Page Letter,” a classic R&B ballad. Her cover of Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up,” which features hip-hop legend Slick Rick, added a playful tinge to the album. “If Your Girl Only Knew” blends funk and pop with ’90s R&B. The album’s title track borrows elements from trip-hop and breakbeats akin to drum and bass. “Hot Like Fire” appears on the album twice, with the bonus version featuring Timbaland and Missy Elliott—the former who borrows a snippet of Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” for his ad-libs. It’s a steady, sultry track from an album—and an artist—whose influence remains boundless.