Beyonce: “Diva By Default”: Ten Years Later courtesy of Aaliyah.

Beyonce: “Diva By Default”: Ten Years Later courtesy of Aaliyah.

Aaliyah

Exactly ten years ago today, Aaliyah died in 2001 at the height of her fame. At the time, she, not Beyonce, was the burgeoning queen of pop, with movie roles (and critical acclaim to match) already racked up, stellar album sales from hit singles and albums, excellent management, and Hollywood looks and glamor. But tragedy struck her down one fateful afternoon on an over packed Cessna, and the after-effects were felt throughout the entertainment industry. Some would say they are still being felt a decade later.

At the time of Aaliyah’s death, Beyonce was not BEYONCE. She was still ‘Beyonce of Destiny’s Child‘ and the group had only been known nationally for three years. Although she was the glorified (and some then said overly so) lead singer of the group at the time, she had not yet made a clean break from the foursome, and she was still playing second fiddle to many other R&B stars at the time, including Monica and Brandy, who had already scored massive solo hit singles and albums.

Upon Aaliyah’s death, every female that had any clout began jockeying for position to claim her audience, since Aaliyah was the only one ushering forth a futuristic sound, thanks in part to the production talents of Timbaland and Missy Elliot (who were, shockingly, not famous until they hooked up with Aaliyah in the first place, who became their muse).

In 2001, Beyonce had not wriggled free from “the other three girls” as they were (and still are) referred to. She had not yet embarked on a real acting career (Carmen: A Hip Hopera notwithstanding), and she was not a huge star. Known, celebrated to an extent with trophies, yes, but she was still Destiny’s Child, that R&B group from Houston. Aaliyah wasAALIYAH, solo star who was big even with only a few albums under her belt. She was elusive, sweet but street; men and women, black and white loved her already at the young age of 22. The sky was the limit and the world was at her feet.

Aaliyah’s movie projects previously had included (and to generally favorable reviews) Romeo Must Die, and Queen of the Damned. On the horizon were Matrix sequels, of which she had a major role and was shooting at the time of her death, a remake of Sparkle; discussions were also underway for Honey, and Dreamgirls (which starred Beyonce some half a decade later, coincidentally). So many are not without merit when they say that Beyonce got Aaliyah’s hand-me downs? Through her death, did Beyonce’s career come to life?

article continued next page.

Beyonce: “Diva By Default”: Ten Years Later courtesy of Aaliyah.

From Around the Web
  • Triston fan

    Wow. Very astute observations. I hadn’t looked at it that way before. She was truly a loss.

  • Aaliyah&Beyfan

    This article is stupid…. I hate when people compare Aaliyah and Beyonce….. Or anyone with Aaliyah!!! There styles and demeanors where totally different. Aaliyah was more of an urban R&B artist. Beyonce is contemporary R&B/ Pop, trained opera vocalist, and can touch just about any genre of music. Aaliyah was the total package all around…. Then she was just a unique entertainer, because she kept her life so personal but the world still felt as if we knew her personally. U can’t b an Aaliyah if u would degrade some one else of there profession to claim aaliyah’s position. Aaliyah was simply Aaliyah, no one can mock nor replace her. Her and Beyonce had different dance style, difference in clothing styles, hair, music, and just over all demeanor. I’m a die hard fan of both ARTIST, have both of there names tatted in blood on my body. But I doubt Aaliyah’s passing made it easier for Beyonce to get to the top. Beyonce’s work ethic and never taking no for an answer attitude has landed her the #1 spot. Also Aaliyah ( I love baby girl to my death) wasn’t the vocal powerhouse Beyonce is either. The girl is the best selling artist of the 2000’s. She has surpassed Michael Jackson in Grammys be Forreal. The industry is already proclaiming her the new generation MJ. In this industry numbers talk, and Beyonce’s statistics have been screaming the past ten years. I love baby girl but she didn’t rack in Grammys nor #1 debuts like King Bey….. But we didn’t expect or need that from her, we loved her simply cuz she was Aaliyah Dana Haughton…. Miss u Baby Girl

  • Nana

    Silly article, I remember Amiyah well. The thing about her is that her vocals were not impressive and her street style would not have given her global speak.e’g Britain and europe. Beyonce has cross appeal and undoubtedly a bigger star. U have to look at cross appeal. Look at micheal jackson. He had cross apeal not very r&b . So in writing these articles it’s important to get these facts right. Another point is Aliyah never had beyonce”s va va boom that certain look and attitude and stage presence that makes icons. Think micheal Jackson, Amywinehpuse, Audrey Hepburn, beyonce. There is that sexiness, edge , I want to be them type of appeal. Sorry Aliyah sweet could dance but didn’t have that. Mourn for her but let’s be real.

  • http://www.grammys.com Celestine Labeija

    You are being very loose with the word “superstar” and “big”. Aaliyah was a viable R&B star on BET and urban radio but that’s about it. Go to Youtube and do a search for her Grammy Awards performances, her MTV Award performances, or even Soul Train Award performances. You won’t find any. What you neglected to mention is that mainstream audiences and outlets didn’t really start paying any attention to her until shortly before she died. She was never as commercially relevant as her peers Brandy or Monica (Not to mention Britney Spears was the arguably Queen of Pop at during 2001. Her first album outsold Aaliyah”s entire discography). So if artists who were selling millions and booking award shows have fallen off since Aaliyah’s death, you can imagine what would have happened to Aaliyah. Aaliyah was a sweet girl, but like most fans of lesser known artists you are mistaking personality and accessibility with talent and relevance.

  • The Truth

    This article is biased and not factual. Beyonce would STILL be the Global star she is now. Aaliyah was on a downward trajectory at the time of her death,her album had not even gone gold and she was about to bomb in Queen of the Damned. The role in the Matrix did nothing for the actress who did do it. She could not sing much live at all,so she was going to be steamrollered by BEYONCE like Mya,Monica,and the rest of the crew. Aaliyah was beautiful and could dance….but she was no match for Beyonce’s vocals whatsoever,and Timbaland colloborated with Aalityah and won no Grammys but won a Grammy with Beyonce and Destiny’s child almost immediately. Beyonce is the total package of beauty,talent and drive….Beyonce is the one who can sing and dance live before billions at the Oscars and at the Inauguration. Aaliyah was just an R&B singer,could not even perform on Late night TV without a disaster of a performance. Sorry,come again with that article. Your feelings are not fact. Fact is Beyonce would have been where she is right now with or without some Aaliyah,Aaliyah would have been over in Hollywood after those bombs like Queen of the Damned,one of the worst reviewed films of all time. And Aaliyah would not have 16 Grammys like Beyonce and been in Dreamgirls….no way would she get the casting over Beyonce who can really SING. So, try a more factual title next time…

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  • Mya

    Please Aaliyah was not a Big Star she was not known WW like Beyonce or Destiny’s Child , DC was bigger than Aaliyah in ever fact. Destiny’s Child won Grammys , Aaliyah didn’t. The Biggest Female solo artist of 2001 was Alicia Keys, The biggest Act of 2000-2002 was Destiny’s Child in the World. DC ruled the Pop Charts WW something Aaliyah never did.

  • Mya

    Destiny’s Child sold more Records and was bigger than Aaliyah, Monica and Brandy.
    Aaliyah, Monica and Brandy were nothing more than Urban girls in the US. They wasn’t Huge. The Females that Ruled the 90’s US and WW are Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Janet Jackson, Aaliyah, Monica and Brandy couldn’t come close. Destiny’s Child 2nd album sold more than any Aaliyah, Monica and Brandy album. Beyonce first solo album sold more than theirs Beyonce has sold over 100 million records solo and over 66 million with Destiny’s Child. Ppl lie Numbers Don’t

  • YO mama

    Even if Aaliyah was still alive Beyonce still would e considered a diva and would be successful cuz Beyonce is the true definition of a music entertainer, I mean goooossshh look at her daggone live performances and listen to her vocal range

  • Mei

    I SWEAR I WISH I COULD DIG AALIYAH UP TO PUT THIS COMPARISON TO REST!!!! DC was on top when Aaliyah was around. Beyonce’s voice was and is sooooo much stronger than Aaliyah’s that NOTHING would’ve stopped her rise. Aaliyah would NEVER have been able to do what Beyonce does live. Singing & dancing HARD for 2 hours straight. STOP IT. Aaliyah was cool but Beyonce is a true talent and her voice didn’t need studio help. If anything compare her to Rihanna OR Ciara – she has Ri’s barely there voice and Cici’s dancing all of which is on the same level. Beyonce is……. OVER HERE.

  • Tommy

    I agree 100%. When Aaliyah was in her prime, Beyonce was NOT, I Repeat, NOT the artist that she is today. Beyonce’s voice wasn’t that good back then, her dancing was worse, her performance skills were lackluster, and So on. Aaliyah had JAyz, Movie roles, sucessful solo career, on so on. Aaliyah had EVERYTHING Beyonce wanted. Wasn’t Beyonce the one that had to interview Aaliyah on the red carpet? Nuff said. Beyonce had to take NUMEROUS vocal classes and dance classes while she was in DC because she didn’t have the NATURAL talent As Aaliyah. Sure, Beyonce is more talented now, but when they were around the same age Beyonce was just average. Plain Jane. Aaliyah had a spark even at a young age. I never saw that when DC first came out.

    @Mya, what does DC selling more records than Aaliyah have to do with the fact that Beyonce STILL wasn’t a bigger star than Aaliyah? Is your reading comprehension skills off or what? He clearly said that DC was sucessful, but Aaliyah was BIGGER than Beyonce by HERSELF. And the mtv awards proved that fact

  • Tommy

    @Mya

    are you stupid or retarded? What does DC selling more records have to do with the fact that BEYONCE ALONE was not bigger than AALIYAH? I mean, didn’t Beyonce have to INTERVIEW Aaliyah while AALIYAH had to walk the red carpet, hounded by paparazzi and autographs, like REAL stars do? Beyonce was nobody without DC, which was why she didn’t have the starpower to go solo in the 90’s in the first place. she was weak and average. Back then, her singing was bland, her dancing was basic, and her performance skills were forgetable. Sure, Bey is talented NOW, but she had to take numerous classes and lessons to get to that point. Aaliyah had a sparkle even from when she first debuted.

  • No way!

    @Tommy

    Printing NONSENSE twice does not make it correct! Your feelings are not FACT! FACT is that Beyonce was bigger than any Aaliiyah in Destiny’s child—the sales record,radio audience record and award record all show that!! Aaliyah never won ONE Grammy,Bee started winning hers in Destiny’s child! Now she has 16…and will win MORE! DC set a record for Airplay for Independent Women,was in Guiness for that–where was Aaliyah? Destiny’s child performed everywhere live,Aaliyah could not do so….needed the studio for the voice and the dancing was camera tricks…it is what it is! She was very pretty,but she was NOT more famous than any Beyonce in Destiny’s child or out of Destiny’s child….the record is clear on that ,and people need to stop embarassing themselves by stating otherwise. You and the writer of this article need to get acquainted with what WW FAME reallly is…..Beyonce had it in DC from the get go,DC was known PLANET WIDE, Aaliyah not so much! Crowned heads wanted to meet Beyonce in her earliest appearances and she has had TV specials since Destiny’s child,FOX started with This is Destiny’s Child in 2001….when did any of that happen for any Aaliyah or the other R&B chicks? Again, stop embarassing yourself…Beyonce RULES,and has since she came out….

  • Tommy

    @No Way

    why are you posting DC’s accomplishments as it holds any weight? Beyonce, the solo star, was NOT as big as Aaliyah. No matter how much of DC’s sales you post. I mean come on. Teen Magazine listed hot “teen” stars from 2000, Beyonce did not make that list. Aaliyah made it, Justin made it (and he was in a GROUP) and Lance Bass also made it. Justin is an example who had SOLO fame while in a group. He was even getting endorsments while he was in NSync and getting solo spotlight. What did Beyonce do solo when Aaliyah was ALIVE? A flop carmen hip hop movie on BET while Aaliyah was getting roles in THEATRES? She could’t even walk the red carpet so she had to give interviews? Her solo songs with amil flopped, her “work it out” song flopped, The solo songs she did for soundtracks went unoticed, while When Aaliyah did soundtracks she made soundtracks go PLATINUM!!!

    Aaliyah was a solo star from JUMP and she didn’t NEED Destiny’s Child to do so.

    Stop embarassing yourself and learn how to read. DESTINY’S Child was BIGGER than Aaliyah, but NOT Beyonce alone. “Beyonce” as a solo brand was a nobody. Which was why Aaliyah was the REAL star that Beyonce had to interview.

  • Jamie

    this article is wack! I LOVE AALIYAH AND BEYONCE! but come on, Aaliyah was no where near Dc’s level, and Beyonce still would’ve been classed the best even if she was alive! Aaliyah would’ve been an Ashanti or Ciara in my opinion. :D

  • alonzo

    all the mothafucking haters shut the fuck up i love aaliyah but beyonce is the best and nobody cant take that from her even michael jackson was in love with beyonce she has a beautiful voice and style

  • HighSociety

    Hell yes beyonce on the downslope