Hip Hop superstar Drake speaks to SoulCulture TV about the impact Aaliyah Dana Houghton (January 16, 1979 – August 25, 2001) has made on his music and career and wishes the R&B princess a happy birthday on what would have been her 32nd.
“January 16th… I feel like I wrote that letter to her… I just don’t feel like it was a year ago…” Drake mused as what would have been R&B icon Aaliyah‘s 32nd birthday, on January 16th, drew near.
“Aaliyah has had probably the most impact on my career,” he states, “because when I made a choice to start singing it was because of something that my father had told me which was, ‘There’s no rapper out there that sings and raps and does both things well… and in order to be successful you’re gonna need something other than just what everyone else is doing’.
“I was rapping already at the time so I had an identity in rap, but when I started singing I needed something to reference. I needed someone to be like, ‘I wanna be like that’. I didn’t want it ever to be a male because then I would sound like that person, so I just found comfort in all of Aaliyah’s music and her melody choices and the things that she talks about – and how she always conveyed these amazing emotions but never got too sappy, she always kept it G.”
“She almost spoke from a guy’s perspective at points and she’d say things that were funny, things that were witty… I felt like that was the first time I could really sing a woman’s lyrics and not feel like I was singing a woman’s lyrics because she was speaking generally.”
He adds, “That had the biggest influence on my music because – as much as my music may be geared towards women – I try not to make it so that only women can sing it.
“I try to put pieces in where guys don’t feel uncomfortable singing a song about women… and I get that from Aaliyah.”
Before wishing Aaliyah a thankful happy birthday Drake concludes, “She taught me that there’s a certain way to make music so that it can be appreciated by a lot of people.
“Aside from that, she just made phenomenal music and she was beautiful and she was a girl that I fell in love with early in my life – I feel like if she was still here I would probably be pursuing her in a major way, you know, because I was truly in love with her very early on.”