There’s a lot to remember about Aaliyah Houghton. The multi-talented artist has had a major impact on the entertainment and fashion industries. The ’90s R&B singer not only created unforgettable hits, but also redefined the tomboy aesthetic with her mesmerizing streetwear looks. Aaliyah’s star quality is evident in her iconic music videos, where she showcased her impressive dancing skills and trendy, unique style. She also dove into acting, starring in the 2000 film Romeo Must Die.
The world mourned a massive loss when Aaliyah tragically died along with several members of her team in a plane crash in August 2001. The superstar and her crew took off from the Bahamas after filming their latest music video.
Although she was only 22 at the time of her death, Aaliyah had a successful career. Let’s take a look at the last music video Aaliyah made before she died — and its far-reaching influence.
Aaliyah inspired her team on the set of her latest music video
Aaliyah’s infectious energy was felt by her team. Her choreographer, Fatima Robinson, told W, “She could move just like me, which made her really fun to dance with.” The two had history before their latest music video, “Rock The Boat.” Robinson said, “The first thing I did with her was ‘One in a Million,’ and when I had that first meeting at the dance studio, she and I were just dancing. From then on we both looked at each other like, ‘Soulmates!’” Aaliyah was clearly a huge inspiration for the choreographer. In a behind-the-scenes video of “Rock The Boat,” Robinson gushed, “I’m definitely living my dream of being an artist through Aaliyah because she has my same vibe and everything is so perfect.”
Derek Lee, Aaliyah’s stylist, was a key figure in creating the artist’s glamorous yet relatable image. He has styled her for several music videos including “One in a Million”, “4 Page Letter” and of course “Rock The Boat” per Complex. When Aaliyah asked Lee what inspired him (in the BTS video), he effusively replied, “You do… well, it’s not hard to be inspired” to admire the fashion icon. And Lee had some resonant words about Aaliyah’s timeless style. He told Complex, “It survived this long because it was organic and available… The girl that is Aaliyah will always be around. It is always there because it is always referred to.”
Artists and designers paid homage to Aaliyah’s Rock The Boat
Aaliyah also had an electrifying effect on musicians and fashion designers.
R&B stars gathered at the 2021 Soul Train Awards to commemorate Aaliyah and the 20th anniversary of “Rock The Boat.” Singers like Musiq Soulchild and Elle Varner offered a new approach, playing around the hit single (above). It was a powerful collaboration to commemorate Aaliyah. JoJo has also covered “Rock The Boat” at numerous concerts. The Weeknd sampled the song in their ballad What You Need from their 2011 mixtape House of Balloons Nylon.
In March, Kith Women released clothing honoring Aaliyah, per Vibe. The collection, Kith Women for Aaliyah Capsule, was launched on International Women’s Day. Alongside crew tops and vintage tees, the collection featured a Rock The Boat hoodie in white or black cotton fleece. The clothes featured never-before-seen photos of the R&B legend, taken by photographer Robert Whitman. According to Aaliyah’s Instagram, all proceeds were split between Aaliyah’s alma mater, the Detroit School of Arts, and the I Support The Girls Foundation. Aaliyah’s brother and executor Rashad Houghton stated: “[Aaliyah] touched the whole world with her light and creativity. So I thought Kith would be the perfect partner to share unseen photos of my sister on her incredible fashion designs.”
To this day, we honor Aaliyah’s tremendous legacy.