Aaliyah's Cultural Impact: The R&B Singer

and Lowkey Afrogoth, 20 Years Later

by Kim Gill and Nicole Kali (8/28/2021)

Aaliyah Dana Haughton (January 16, 1979-August 25, 2001)


"Black Rockers United has been a space where Black Rockers from across the globe can find a hub to talk about music, their experiences in their scenes, as well as their daily lives. With that said, although Aaliyah was not a Rock Artist, she was indeed a Black Rocker and at the time of her death, was actually pursuing her interests to collaborate with Rock artists to expand her art.


After Aaliyah finished recording her third and final self-titled album, she was in contact with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails—whom she was a big fan of—and wanted to work on some music with him. They had each other's contact information and would go over the details. She was also supposed to record music with Jonathan Davis of Korn for the Queen of the Damned soundtrack (which to this day is considered one of the most popular movie soundtracks in the Rock/Metal genre).

Sadly, due to her untimely death, those collaborations never happened. Queen of the Damned, Aaliyah's second and final movie, was arguably one of her best works as an artist for many reasons. One, it posthumously connected Aaliyah's interests to her career, something she never got to achieve in life. Two, her character, Akasha, became a cult figure in the goth sub-culture, which she always loved and admired.

Queen Akasha, vampire matriarch from ancient Egypt (Queen of the Damned, 2000)

Three, it showcased the depth of her acting skills and left many wondering "What could have been?" And lastly, it posthumously provided a gateway for Aaliyah in the Rock/Metal world to which she always wanted to enter. In closing, 20 years after her death, Aaliyah's art and legacy showcased her more than an artist, but who she was as a person.

Her willingness to pursue her personal interests in terms of the music she enjoyed while trying to incorporate that into the music she was known for can be viewed as her not "stepping out her comfort zone" but rather into it." ⁠— Kim

"If there's a sonic example of energy changing its shape and never being destroyed? There is Aaliyah, who embodies diasporic versatility on a cosmic level. We have said before that she transformed culture because she was herself transformative. Of course art's beauty lies in the unknown possibilities.

How can a person expand, reach others as time passes? What elements can they explore? You experience Aaliyah Haughton's impact throughout two decades and are awestruck, how powerful this 22-year-old songstress had been. She deserves more credit than ever.

Kim is absolutely right. From Aaliyah's ever-cool Afrogoth/R&B aesthetic to such fierce independence (defying stereotypes, assuming creative control, directing others on set), we learned that a rocker takes many forms. Thanks for solidifying those connections. No doubt exists for me that "Babygirl" was one of us.

Her family is still at odds with the current album streams: One in a Million, etc. Fans are conflicted after years of legal disputes. Personally, a legacy maintains value even if it's not tangible to me. Aaliyah can be honored in other ways. We never forget. Rest in powerful peace.

"It’s hard to say what I want my legacy to be when I’m long gone...I don’t think about my previous success. I’m happy that the work I did has been very successful...Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts and we are never the same." Aaliyah said it best herself.

Enjoy this intimate documentary clip from MTV. " — Nicole


African and Caribbean Culture is the Foundation of the Gothic Movement (Medium, 10-15-17)

Aaliyah, Our Goth Older Sister (inspiration for this article)  (Tumblr, 2015-2018)