An album that was to feature vocals from the deceased R&B singer Aaliyah, produced by the rapper Drake and his collaborator Noah ‘40’ Shebib, has reportedly been cancelled following a vocal public backlash.
"The world reacting to Drake’s involvement so negatively, I just wanted nothing to do with it," Shebib told Vibe magazine this week. "That was a very sad experience for me. I was naïve to the politics surrounding Aaliyah’s legacy… Ultimately, I wasn’t comfortable and didn’t like the stigma… [Aaliyah’s] mother saying ‘I don’t want this out’ was enough for me. I walked away very quickly."
The project was announced in August 2012 and was scheduled to feature unreleased songs and “fragments” worked into new tracks, with Drake and Shebib co-producing. One song, Enough Said, was released online, and Timbaland and Missy Elliott were announced as collaborators, only to have the pair deny their involvement. Aaliyah’s brother, Rashad Haughton, said that her immediate family didn’t support the project, which was being released by Blackground, a label run by Aaliyah’s cousin Jomo Hankerson.
Fans reacted negatively to the news, questioning Drake’s credentials as someone who had never worked with or met the singer, while Timbaland himself said: “A lot of these rappers out here are awful. Chris Brown got a record [with Aaliyah]. It won’t work. Drake could do a record with Aaliyah. It ain’t going to work.” However, Shebib told Vibe however that Timbaland was in fact on board, “Tim said to me “Don’t stop, make the album.” I think that was Tim taking the position of, “I’m not going to stop you. If you’re not going to do it, that’s your decision.”
Despite recently posting an Instagram video with the audio of a new Aaliyah track playing on his tour bus, Drake had already begun to play down the release, saying in September last year that “things went downhill with it”.
"Me and 40 were working on this Aaliyah album that kind of got blown out of proportion. There are records with me and Aaliyah that no one has ever heard and they’re really good. I think the press got out of hand. They maybe just had a different vision for it. I’m not sure. It was sounding great to me. Whatever they end up doing with it, I wish them the best of luck. There might be a record with me on there. I’m not sure."