TSR Exclusive: The late Aaliyah’s ‘Are You That Somebody’ is a timeless hit, but there are a lot of things fans don’t know about one of Aaliyah’s biggest hit records, like the fact that the song was recorded and produced with less than 24-hour notice.
Fans may be more surprised to find out that the song was actually written to Aaliyah by Static Major as a token of their secret relationship they were hiding from Aaliyah’s uncle. The details of the song’s culmination, Aaliyah’s relationship with Static and much more are set to come out in a new, in-depth biography penned by noted hip hop journalist and author Kathy Iandoli.
In ‘Baby Girl: Better Known as Aaliyah’, which drops on Aug. 17, a few days before the 20th anniversary of Aaliyah’s untimely passing, Iandoli writes that Static Major’s mother, Edith Garrett Raymond, confirmed Aaliyah dated her late son around 1997 into 1998.
An excerpt from the book reads: “‘They were definitely an item,’ she said. ‘Aaliyah was crazy about him.’ And while the song cloaks their romance in secrecy, they were pretty open to Static’s mom and apparently Aaliyah’s own parents. ‘He brought Aaliyah to my wedding,’ Edith continued. ‘That was a big deal because [her parents] didn’t let her go places.’”
To take it back to the beginning of ‘Are You That Somebody’s’ inception, Timbaland and his team found out around 1 a.m. that they had to deliver a song for the ‘Dr. Dolittle’ soundtrack, forcing him and Aaliyah to hop in the studio to crank out the song in under 12 hours.
Timbaland didn’t want to do it at first, but Tim and Aaliyah were to be paid a hefty bag of $400,000 for the track, according to the book.
Static joined them, laying down the lyrics that evening, but the song had been brewing as he originally wrote it to Aaliyah: “Girl, I’ve been watching you like a hawk in the sky…”
“Aaliyah wasn’t a fan of the song on the first listen, despite the autobiographical undertone. Still, she recorded it, and of course it was perfect,” the book says. “…Once Aaliyah’s vocals were laid down (along with Timbaland’s and Static’s), Timbaland came back to put on the finishing touches, which were some more beat layers and his now-famous ‘Dirty South’ intro.”
Timbaland made a last-minute addition, sprinkling that happy baby sound over the track, and Aaliyah was feeling it too.
It was also the first time Aaliyah was referred to as “Baby Girl” on a track.
The song and its video are one of just many topics touched on in the biography. Will y’all be reading this one? Let us know!
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Copyright © 2021 by Kathy Iandoli. From Baby Girl: Better Known as Aaliyah by Kathy Iandoli. Reprinted by permission of Atria Books, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.