On what would have been Aaliyah‘s 45th birthday (January 16), Blackground Records has confirmed the singer’s highly anticipated new project, Unstoppable, will drop in 2024.
Unstoppable was initially slated to arrive in January 2022, but was met with mixed reviews. While some fans were excited about the release of a posthumous album, others including Aaliyah's estate, were not happy. Chris Brown, Ne-Yo, Snoop Dogg, Future, and Drake would have been featured artists.
“Imagine having the [opportunity] to create a new Aaliyah album with an entire generation of women that were directly influenced (Ciara, Teyana, Tinashe, Normani, Jhene, CxH, H.E.R., Sevyn, etc.),” read a popular tweet posted by @AllThingsDante. “But instead we get Snoop Dogg, Neyo, Future, CB, a weird Weeknd song... yikes.”
The mixed reactions from listeners sent the label back to the drawing board to revamp the project.
Back in 2021, the 20th anniversary of Aaliyah's death, her estate released a statement slamming label head, Barry Hankerson who is also the singer's uncle. (On Instagram, Blackground Records 2.0 shared a website and hashtag #AaliyahIsComing teasing the return of her music.)
"Protecting Aaliyah's legacy is, and will always be, our focus. For 20 years we have battled behind the scenes, enduring shadowy tactics of deception with unauthorized projects targeted to tarnish," the estate wrote in a statement on Wednesday. "We have always been confused as to why there is such a tenacity in causing more pain alongside what we already have to cope with for the rest of our lives."
"Now, in this 20th year, this unscrupulous endeavor to release Aaliyah's music without any transparency or full accounting to the estate compels our hearts to express a word — forgiveness," the statement continued. "Although we will continue to defend ourselves and her legacy lawfully and justly, we want to preempt the inevitable attacks on our character by all the individuals who have emerged from the shadows to leech off of Aaliyah's life's work."
Hankerson was Aaliyah’s manager from the start of her career and co-founded the record label, Blackground Records, the label which also housed rapper-producer Timbaland and Magoo, and Aaliyah’s background singer, Tank. Aaliyah’s uncle has a negative reputation within the music industry with lawsuits from artists like JoJo and Toni Braxton, as well as one of his ex-girlfriends.