Aaliyah was R&B music’s princess. She may not have sold the most albums ever, but she captured the hearts of everyone who loved deep bass and songbird vocals. She was an exceptional dancer, a sweet and charismatic person with a warm smile, and a talented actress. Her music was a staple for so many of us.
Her death in August of 2001 was shocking and painful. She was so young, but before her tragic death remained an unsolved mystery. Aaliyah was the victim of sexual abuse. As a young teenager, she was preyed upon by known R&B star R. Kelly, and the details have finally come out.
Aaliyah Entered the Industry Young
Like many pop singers, Aaliyah started her career when she was only 12 or 13. But she wasn’t just another pop singer. She described her sound as “street but sweet,” and her songs appealed to mature audiences as well as kids.
When her first single dropped she was 15 years old, and fans embraced her with open arms. But her debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number’s title track said it all. Rumors that she had married R. Kelly popped up everywhere. Everyone knew she was only 15, but the news focused more on their “relationship” than on her being victimized.
R. Kelly’s Illegal Marriage to Aaliyah
R. Kelly produced Aaliyah’s first album. He worked very closely with her and had the perfect opportunity to groom her. The details are just now finally being uncovered, but they’re still unclear because Aaliyah’s uncle started her record company, Blackground, and her parents were not there to intervene.
However, it’s now confirmed that R. Kelly bribed an official to give Aaliyah a fake welfare card and a work ID to forge an adult age and obtain a marriage license. He married her in a hotel room in Chicago on August 31, 1994. Because that’s every girl’s dream, right? To be married secretly in a hotel room while lying about your age.
The reason for the shotgun wedding is speculated to have been driven by a potential pregnancy.
The reason for the shotgun wedding is speculated to have been driven by a potential pregnancy. Whether it was a false-alarm or Aaliyah’s baby was aborted is unknown, but she went home to Detroit shortly after the marriage and her parents got it annulled.
She Wasn’t His Only Victim
If this isn’t strange enough, the rest of R. Kelly’s abuses make it even more concerning. Kelly’s first legal battle regarding his sexual abuse dates back to 1996 when Tiffany Hawkins sued him for “emotional distress” after dating him for three years, starting when she was 15. From there he was accused of trapping women in a sex cult and charged with making child porn, urinating on underage girls, aggravated sexual assault, prison assault, and now finally sex trafficking.
For over 20 years, R. Kelly has been convicted of serious sex crimes against underage girls and has repeated offences. There were plenty of fans who came to his defence in the ‘96 trial and stood by him through the early 2000s. What’s shocking and insulting to all of his victims, but especially Aaliyah, is that there are individuals still defending him after all these years of sexual abuse charges.
Aaliyah Never Lived To Tell Her Story
Aaliyah downplayed the early reports of her marriage to R. Kelly. She wanted to focus on the music instead of playing the celebrity gossip game. Shortly after the annulment, Kelly had Aaliyah and her parents sign an agreement freeing him from any liability and he paid her $100. That’s all her silence was worth to him.
Aaliyah died in a plane crash on August 25, 2001 at age 22. She was flying from the Bahamas to Miami after filming the music video for “Rock the Boat.” According to music journalist Kathy Iandoli, the plane was carrying too much weight, which furthermore wasn’t distributed properly. The pilot also had cocaine and alcohol in his system. In her book on Aaliyah, Iandoli interviews a man named Kingsley Russell who says he saw Aaliyah refuse to get on the plane (she didn’t like flying), get back into the taxi, and claim she had a headache. Aaliyah was given a pill by one of her teammates, which made her fall asleep. She was then carried asleep onto the plane, which crash shortly after takeoff.
Aaliyah refused to board the plane, and was later seen being carried on board asleep.
Because she was killed in that long-ago plane crash, Aaliyah never got to break her silence. She didn’t get to become one of the “grown and sexy” crowd who looked back and realized the gravity of what she had been through. There was no #MeToo for Aaliyah, and whether people believed her story or not didn’t matter. The music was always her focus. Her fans were there for her even if she never opened up to us or not.
There are many mysteries connecting young stars to sexual abuse. From the allegedly untold child porn story of Selena to the Epstein child sex-trafficking ring that connects many elites to these kinds of horrible crimes, young women in the entertainment industry are victimized more often than we think.
Aaliyah was a unique performer with her own style. Now that the truth about what she went through is finally coming to light, maybe she will be offered the grace of truth even though her time has passed.
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