Monday, January 17, 2011

it's been too long...

There's been very few modern day people/artist who fully inspire me.Our current day media is overflowing with socialites, reality stars and half talented entertainers who have an uncanny lucky streak. But for as long as we make them trending topics on Twitter and Google, they will still be around.They scheme to find better ways to stay in the public eye and usually this means a scandal must follow...not a display of true talent. Talent is scarce these days. Maybe it isn't, maybe it's just what people tire of. People seem more interested in paparazzi and the next reality craze.In music we see pretty much half-assed stars making moves currently. Despite what makes more noise and earns more views, I deep down refuse to believe that western society no longer believes in truly being entertained. If this is so then why do we consistently mourn the loss of great artists from the past? Because they were great during their time on earth and their legacy while here was strong enough to impact us after their death. A great person can impact you even if you've never known them (crazy huh?). Aaliyah is no exception. Every year I wonder what she would've accomplished had she still been alive. No doubt she'd be making moves in a subtle yet gigantic way like the true lady she was. 

One thing I always admired about Aaliyah when I was younger  was her subtle and cool approach toward everything. She was driven like all the greats, but harnessed the power to control her emotions and moods. To me, this is one of the hardest things to accomplish in life. That is true power. Allowing no one to affect your destiny or control your reactions or feelings is an enviable trait. It takes a strong willed person to exercise this trait. You never saw Aaliyah do too much, she did just enough by her standards. Her standards were high but she wasn't one to cause a scene and overdo anything. Aaliyah didn't need a large production for a video or performance. She could coolly sing into her microphone, stand in one place (maybe dance a bit, depending on the song) and captivate you. Once again, this is an enviable trait. Her energy rocked the stage. Some artists need to shake, belt, jump, jive and wail for the attention of all your senses. Aaliyah had the entire package, which indeed is also rare among artists. Not only did she have the entire package, but she packaged it her way. She didn't do what was expected or what you wanted to see. Aaliyah could do Aaliyah best, which is why she kept it real and we respect her. This type of artist was rampant in the days of Brandy, Monica, Aaliyah and Mya. Many young artists have been inspired by these women. Ciara is a vocal admirer of Aaliyah as is Drake. They credit her for truly being individual and forever mesmerizing them with her talent.

 Image is important, Aaliyah used it in her favor. But as I said before she did it her way. Not only that but her entire career didn't revolve around which hairstyle she rocked or what outfit she graced the sidewalk with. Aaliyah's trademark dark black draping locks were always intact. For an added mystery, she'd wear sunglasses or drape her bangs over one eye. To keep it real with herself she'd rock sneakers, baggy pants and a bustier or halter top. Never once did she brag about how cool she was like many girls who believe they have a tomboy style. I was also appreciative of how honest she was. She never claimed to hang in the streets or live roughly to earn an edge. No, she was a middle class raised girl and wasn't shy about it. The edge that many artists kill for she created from inside. To her, she was human like everyone else... a constant work in progress.Always reaching for the stars, she experimented with different sounds, images and even arts (Romeo Must Die, Queen of the Damned). Though some saw her image as a gimmick, it clearly wasn't. We watched Aaliyah grow into a woman. A woman who naturally budded and evolved into her own.
She was something special to me, I always aspired to be like her. Though she made her mistakes, it was those mistakes that impacted me just as much as her artistry. I knew that you could bounce back in a dignified way no matter how embarrassing the fall. When I learned that Aaliyah was an avid fan of Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana I didn't feel like a freak for being the only black rock fan at my school. Being different was something she embraced and I learned not to shy away from myself because of her. Originality is a choice and we should all embrace our 'true selves'. Her presence here on earth inspired me sometimes more than her music. I chose to continue to be Tia, to be original because of people like Aaliyah. For that I will be forever grateful and admiring of her legacy. Perhaps that's why others still celebrate her as though she were still here. If Aaliyah were still here, she'd no doubt be giving all these other female artists a run for their money.


1 comment:

  1. Great, insightful words. Thank you for that. Happy Birthday, LiLi.