On this day, in 2001, the world lost a great entertainer…at least great in my generation. I remember watching an episode of Road Rules: The Quest on MTV when Kurt Loder interrupted with a special MTV News report: Aaliyah was killed in a plane crash in The Bahamas. I was shocked. Almost immediately, I thought of her eponymously-titled album, which I had just acquired a month earlier. I played that album end-to-end for like 2 weeks straight on my bus rides to and from school. There was one track—the one that prompted me to purchase the album—that got more play than others. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: Aaliyah’s “Loose Rap”.
How I first came across this moment? I first came across the track on July 21, 2001. I was about an hour removed from a closing shift at Domino’s Pizza and I was writing in Triumphs & Tribulations I while listening to Music Choice R&B Soul in the wee hours. The track came on and I stopped what I was writing to listen.
What it meant to me then? Upon first listen, I was mesmerized by the track. The beat made it an immediate star in my book. Aaliyah’s vocals on the track were the best of any track she was featured on. Having Static on the track didn’t hurt either. I loved the flow of the track and the lyrics. Like I just wrote, it was a star. I really liked that whole 3rd verse Aaliyah dropped with “Too many time, I hear you trying and knocking my crew/Well, we’ve got something for all the fools/It ain’t just rhythm and blues/If you just quit trying to compete…yeah/No telling what you could be/You might even be doper than me/I doubt it”. With “We Need a Resolution” already a track I liked off the Aaliyah album and me thinking “Try Again” was also on the album, I bought the album the following Monday out of Coconuts in The Summit with “Loose Rap” being the 3rd track to fulfill my prerequisites for doing so.
What it means to me now? More than 16 years later, I still love that track. And now with both Aaliyah and Static passed on into the afterlife, the track has a special significance to me. In just about every PC I’ve owned going back to the Summer of 2001, it’s been the track that has logged the most play counts in my Windows Media Player. In my book, it’s the best track off that album and the best track Aaliyah ever recorded. And on this anniversary of her tragic passing, I’m going to mark the occasion by rendering the track a tremendous nod of respect by renaming the Juan Thomas Presents…Miscellaneous Jams playlist. From this day forward, it’ll be called Juan Thomas Presents…Loose Rap.