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Drake is in "command" of the new Aaliyah album - no matter what her family might say.
"People should be excited [about the new single]," said the Toronto rapper in an interview with MuchMusic, referring to the newly-released track "Enough Said" which features the late R&B singer's vocals. "It’s all off of an Aaliyah project that me and 40 are commanding and 40 is just doing some incredible, incredible music right now. ...To get 13-14 new Aaliyah songs…everybody should be excited."
For those who aren't familiar, "40" is the nickname of sought-after hip-hop/R&B producer Noah Shebib, who in addition to Drizzy has collaborated with such high-profile artists as Lil Wayne, Trey Songz and Alicia Keys. Along with Drake, he'll be serving as co-executive producer of the new album.
Of course, Drake's involvement hasn't come without controversy, with many fans taking exception to his spearheading of the project when artists like Timbaland and Missy Elliott - both of whom played a heavy hand in shaping Aaliyah's successful career - have allegedly been left out. And yet while Timbaland himself has come out publicly to express that same sentiment, Blackground Records - which will be releasing the new LP - claims he and Missy will both, in fact, be playing a role.
"Timbaland will be involved with this project," said Jomo Hankerson - Aaliyah's cousin who runs Blackground with his father Barry - during a recent conversation with Billboard. "One of the records that we had that was never released was a Missy record that we obviously are going to be refreshing. ...This record ['Enough Said'] really kind of came sooner than we thought it was going to come, so it's really the beginning of the creative process for us. We've got a record out while we're still creating the project. A lot of that is still up in the air, but I can tell you that Timbaland will definitely be involved, Missy will definitely be involved."
In what capacity, exactly, he didn't make clear, though Drake and 40 will no doubt exercise majority control over the project. According to Hankerson, that's the sort of fresh approach Blackground was looking to take from the get-go.
"There's a real new generation that doesn't know her necessarily, and we wanted to continue her musical legacy with this new generation," said Hankerson. "That's one of the reasons why we wanted to do very contemporary music. We didn't want to make it a nostalgic project; we already did that with the 'I Care 4 U' album [released in 2002]. The idea was to release new music for her diehard fans, and also reintroduce her music to a new generation that doesn't really understand how much influence she has in the music that they're listening to today."
Nevertheless, there's inevitably a "nostalgia" factor attached to the work of any deceased artist - and as far as Drake is concerned, pleasing the fans is the ultimate goal.
"It’s not about me, and it’s not about 40," he told MuchMusic. "It’s really about her and her fans…and us just getting an opportunity to give you something that we feel is great."
And contrary to what's been claimed - again - by members of Aaliyah's own family, the rapper alleged he's doing it with the full blessing of those who were closest to her.
"You know, the people around her, everybody from her family to her old management and label, were just like, ‘If there’s anybody out who can do it right now, it’s you and 40,'" said Drake. "And it was an honor to pull in some classic people, like anybody who used to work with Aaliyah that was essential in her career, we hope to have them involved."
So when can we expect the new album to hit stores? According to Blackground, they're looking to release it by year's end.
Listen to "Enough Said" below and let us know your thoughts!