I CAN BE by AALIYAH
Aaliyah is an adulterous man's mistress here. She desires to be all the things that the other woman is to him. Bud'da's production combines 2-step and rock elements to emphasize the lyrics about infidelity. "It had such a great melody and I wanted to add something dark to go with it," Bud'da recalled to Fuse TV. "So you've got your sweetness on the top but down below you just have this menacing thing that's just pounding your speakers."
TRY AGAIN by AALIYAH
This was featured in the movie Romeo Must Die. Aaliyah stared in the movie opposite Jet Li. It was her first film role, and a promising start to her acting career. Unfortunately, Aaliyah appeared in just one more movie: Queen of the Damned, which was released after her death.
Timbaland produced this song and wrote it with Stephen Garrett; the pair had previously collaborated on the Ginuwine song "Pony" and on Aaliyah's first hit "Are You That Somebody?," which was used on the Dr. Dolittle soundtrack. Garrett, who was in a group called Playa, died in 2008 from a rare medical condition. He was 33.
The "It's been a long time, we shouldn't have left you... without a dope beat to step to" line is a variation on a lyric from the 1987 Eric B. & Rakim song "I Know You Got Soul," where Rakim raps: "It's been a long time, I shouldn't have left you... without a strong rhyme to step to."
This was the first song to top the Hot 100 based on airplay alone, without any sales figures being included. Until December 5, 1998, a song had to be issued as a single to make the chart (which is why songs like "Stairway To Heaven" and "Don't Speak" didn't place). "Try Again" wasn't released as a commercial single until it fell from #1 - if you wanted to own it before then, you had to buy the Romeo Must Die soundtrack.
This won MTV Video Music Awards for Best Female Video and Best Video For A Film.
This got a Grammy nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. It lost to "He Wasn't Man Enough" by Toni Braxton.
The video features Aaliyah's Romeo Must Die co-star, Jet Li. It was directed by Wayne Isham, whose many credits include "Piece Of Me" by Britney Spears and "All The Right Moves" by OneRepublic.
This was used in a 2013 episode of The Mindy Project in a scene where the character Danny does a dance routine to it as a secret Santa gift for Mindy.
LOOSE RAP by AALIYAH
Aaliyah dismisses here romantic admirers who use trite pickup lines. The lyrics were written by Stephen "Static Major" Garrett from the R&B band Playa, who had a close friendship with the singer. He also shared vocals on the song with Aaliyah.
The song's title came from a slang term used by the producers Eric Seats and Rapture Stewart and Static. "The saying 'loose rap' was something we always used to say in our regular talk," Stewart told Fuse TV. "We were joking around in the studio that day and that track was on, and Static just said it on the hook. A lot of the songs happened like that."
NEVER NO MORE by AALIYAH
Stephen "Static Major" Garrett's lyrics for this song are about an abusive relationship that's seemingly has come to an end. "There's so many people quietly dealing with abuse and it's just an unheard thing," the song's producer Bud'da commented to Fuse TV. "I thought it was pretty upfront for that song and it was bold on her part to do it knowing that she has a great influence."
West Coast producer Bud'da was best known at the time for his work with hip hop artists including Ice Cube and Dr. Dre. For this song he mixed old-school soul, hip-hop sounds and strings. "I wanted to create something that had a soulful feel with the classic instruments. After she laid the vocals, I had the idea to add the live strings and other elements around her voice to emphasize the words," Bud'da explained. "With the topic of the song being about abuse, I wanted you to feel that musically and hear the emotions. I wish everybody could've seen the emotions as well."
ARE YOU THAT SOMEBODY? by AALIYAH
The song finds Aaliyah offering a late-night tryst to a guy she's had her eye on for a while. She insists on discretion however, repeatedly asking him, "Are you responsible?"
Timbaland wrote this song with Stephen "Static Major" Garrett, who co-wrote most of Aaliyah's other hits along with songs for Ginuwine ("So Anxious," "Pony") and his group Playa ("Cheers 2 U," "Don't Stop The Music").
In the December 2008 issue of Vibe magazine, Garrett mentions that Aaliyah did not initially like this song and another Static wrote for her, "Try Again." She recorded them both, though, and they became big hits for her. Aaliyah didn't write songs, but prided herself on being able to interpret them.
Timbaland produced this song, incorporating the clean percussion sound that powered many of his productions. Often working with Missy Elliott and Melvin "Magoo" Barcliff, he became one of the hottest producers of this era, and Aaliyah was one of his biggest stars. She had previously worked with R. Kelly and Jermaine Dupri.
Aaliyah was 19 when this was released in 1998, but she was already a seasoned pro: her first album, Age Ain't Nothing but a Number, was issued in 1994.
A key component to this song is the baby giggling and cooing in the background. This was a unique production element that played to Aaliyah's nickname: "baby girl," which is how Timbaland addresses her in his rap.
Many rumors floated around as to the identity of the baby (a popular one was that it came from a home video of Aaliyah when she was little), but the "happy baby" came from a CD from a sound effects library.
The same sound was used in Prince's song "Delirious," which in turn was sampled from the 1968 song "Countdown to 6," by Perrey and Kingsley.
This was featured in the movie Dr. Dolittle, starring Eddie Murphy. The soundtrack featured several other Timbaland productions, including "Same Ol' G" by Ginuwine and an All Saints cover of "Lady Marmalade."
He and Stephen Garrett put the song together on very short notice when they got the call to produce a track for the film. Timbaland remembers the gig paying $400,000.
Timbaland did the rap at the end of the song, which has nothing to do with the storyline of the song but serves as effective promotion for him and Aaliyah - by mentioning their names, it ensured that listeners would know the artist and producer when they heard it on the radio. When Timbaland introduces himself as "The man from the big VA," he's referring to his home state of Virginia.
This was nominated for a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal in 1999.
The video gets very literal with the "watching you like a hawk" line, showing Aaliyah handling the bird. Other than that, most of the clip (directed by Mark Gerard) is comprised of group dance scenes starring Aaliyah's abs.
According to Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, listening to this song convinced him "to pursue a more soulful sound in his music."