*Barry Hankerson, the uncle of late R&B singer Aaliyah and chief of Blackground records, announced this week that her music will soon hit streaming services.
Per Variety, a distribution deal with Empire will result in four Aaliyah releases: Her previously released, double-platinum albums “One in a Million” (1996) and “Aaliyah” (2001) — which have never been legally available on streaming services — along with a greatest-hits compilation and one called “I Care 4 U” that may be a posthumous collection, executive produced by Drake and featuring cameos from him, Kanye West, Lil Wayne and others.
Hankerson has been trying to release his nieces’ discography online for nearly a decade.
The albums are scheduled to drop on August 20 and continuing through October, per the report.
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“For 20 years we have battled behind the scenes, enduring shadowy tactics of deception,” the estate’s statement reads, “now, this unscrupulous endeavor to release Aaliyah’s music without transparency or full accounting to the estate compels our hearts to express a word – forgiveness,” but pledges to “continue to defend ourselves and her legacy lawfully.”
Paul LiCalsi, an attorney for the estate, said Blackground is to blame for Aaliyah’s music’s not being available sooner.
“Since the early 2000’s, only Aaliyah’s first album ‘Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number’ has been available on streaming platforms because the right to distribute that record has been held by major record companies under contract with Aaliyah’s record label, Blackground Records. Other than that first album, virtually the entire remainder of her catalog, including many never released tracks, has been inexplicably withheld from the public by Blackground Records.
“Aaliyah’s Estate has always been ready to share Aaliyah’s musical legacy but has been met with contention and a gross lack of transparency. For almost 20 years, Blackground has failed to account to the Estate with any regularity in accordance with her recording contracts. In addition, the Estate was not made aware of the impending release of the catalog until after the deal was complete and plans were in place. The Estate has demanded that Blackground provide a full account of its past earnings, and full disclosure of the terms of its new deal to distribute Aaliyah’s long embargoed music.”
Speaking to Billboard on Thursday, Hankerson addressed the dispute between himself and his sister, Aaliyah’s mother Diane: “There was a conversation we had that she didn’t want the music out, and whatever my sister told me, I tried to do what she wanted me to do,” he said. “As a parent, I would understand if she did not want the music out. Because who wants to hear the voice of your daughter who’s gone? So when she said that to me, I said, ‘OK, we’re not putting it out. I don’t know when, but one day we will.’ We literally packed everything up and went on to something else.”
And there you have it!
You can read his full interview here.