In My Write Mind

The Beat Goes On...(from 2001)

**She was on my mind since last weekend, so I thought I'd share something I wrote the night I heard she was gone...R.I.P.***

**Soundtrack: "Back & Forth," Aaliyah, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number**


By William I. Dawson

It was the beat that was married to my voice. You see, as an aspiring radio personality back in 1994, you had to have your specific beat that you could talk over. Everyone has one. Don’t believe me? Check it out next time you listen to your favorite jock before they throw to commercial. It’s that beat that lets you know that what you’re saying is being heard; what you’re reading has impact; what you’re playing is hot.

And that was my beat. Anytime anyone who listened to my daily show from Long Island to the L.E.S. heard that beat, they knew the original Wet Biscuit (that’s my alias) was on the air. The song was spanking new, as was the artist. A young girl who was born in Bed Stuy but grew up in Detroit had hooked up with R. Kelly, fresh off his Public Announcement fame, to do her first album. The first single, my beat, was Back & Forth.

The artist, of course, was Aaliyah.

That’s how I’ll have to remember her. Not just for that beat. No, for much more--but especially for that. Over this past weekend, Aaliyah Dana Houghton and eight other crew members boarded a plane in the Bahamas after shooting a video from her latest, self-titled LP. Soon after takeoff, the plane crashed off the coast. The cause of the crash is ultimately unknown, but reports are circulating that the plane was overloaded with baggage for the flight from Marsh Harbor to Opa-Locka, FL.

The platinum-selling artist and acting ingenue’s life was cut short at the ripe age of 22.

When I heard it, I couldn’t believe it. My mind raced through my mental rolodex of Aaliyah items, i.e., where I had seen her last (on BET’s 106 & Park giving away a Cadillac Escalade to a corn-rowed college student); her latest song (Rock the Boat, the song for which she made her last video); and my fondest memory of the young entertainer (in the One In A Million video, where she and an equally young partner waltzed as if they were Fred and Ginger).

I also recalled that she graced the cover of the August 2001 edition of Vibe magazine, in all of her illustrative glory. In that article, written brilliantly by Hyun Kim, the singer/actress (the infamous “slash” that accompanies more and more entertainment industry do-it-all’s) says of herself,
“People feel like they own you in this business, and to a certain degree, they
do. But there’s a part of me that will always be just for me.”

Good for her--as long as I can have that beat.

It was the first single from her debut Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number. The first time I heard R. bellow, “Let me see you go back…,” I was in love with this little girl. On her next single, At Your Best (You Are Love), when she shrieked, “Let me know…,” it was a wrap. I was head over heels.

Her next CD, One In A Million, followed in 1996 and I was on that beat-wagon as well. With the title cut and the mesmerizing Four-Page Letter and seductive Hot Like Fire, this home girl from D-town showed that she was here to stay.

Entrees on the Dr. Doolittle Soundtrack as well as on the soundtrack of her movie debut, Romeo Must Die, kept her fans’ appetites whetted for what has turned into an Aaliyah main course, her first studio album in five years. Already, the song We Need A Resolution has given the LP gold status, with her next singles undoubtedly pushing it into its predecessor’s platinum stratosphere. Indeed, whether it was Mr. Kelly or Timbaland producing the wunderkind of the slight stature and voice, it all fit.

Some would say that her life was just beginning. Maybe so, although with the allegations of an underage marriage at age 15 and a personal life as elusive as Marion Jones in a 100-meter race, it seems the 22-year old had led a full life already.

"We find it devastating and most unfortunate that afterhaving this world-famous star Aaliyah and her crew select theBahamas as their choice location for her latest video, the projecthas climaxed on such a tragic note,'' Bahamian Minister of Tourism Tommy Turnquest, told the AP.

Tragic indeed. Aaliyah is gone now and has left behind a music and film catalogue (she is to star in the Anne Rice novel turned movie Queen of the Damned) as full and vibrant as her eyes and as rich as her personality. We’ll always have that.

And I’ll have my beat, even if it has my eyes swollen with tears for the moment, my head racing back & forth as I digest her tragic demise. That beat—my beat—will keep me sane. And even though I’ll miss her and her music and all of the promise she showed, I’ll keep going…

Because...the beat goes on.

scribbled by Will at 11/12/2004 04:00:00 PM
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Mind Droppings

I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear. (Joan Didion)

The Write One

Will. Lefty. Since Summer 1971.
Over the next six months, I'll be saying some hellos, some goodbyes. Living, laughing, growing. Don't.miss.a.word.
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