Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B (2014 Lifetime)

Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B Alexandra Shipp stars as Aaliyah in the Lifetime Original Movie. Photo by Christos Kalohoridis Copyright 2014

Aaliyah: The Princess of R&B (2014 Lifetime)

Cast: Alexandra ShippLyriq BentChristopher Jacot

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Synopsis (via Lifetime)

The story of music and video star Aaliyah, whose life ended tragically in a 2001 plane crash in the Bahamas.

Thoughts

The movie starts with young Aaliyah on star search killing it. R. Kelly sees the TV program and reaches out to her uncle Barry, which is creepy.

Gladys Knight is Aaliyah’s auntie and allows her to perform at her Vegas show. Aaliyah doesn’t crack under pressure and performs at 11 years old. She is signed to a record deal with Jive Records. 

At a high school talent show, Aaliyah performs a cover of Bobby Brown’s “My Perogative.” in full. She still has not made a record because Uncle Barry is still trying to convince R.Kelly to work this Aaliyah. They work together in the studio, and she is put through the wringer trying to earn his respect as a musician. The movie portrays this as an ample opportunity, considering all the things we know about R.Kelly’s sexual abuse of minors, which is disturbing. (They even go as far as to have the two go on a date and make R.Kelly a sympathetic character, instead of an abuser/manipulator.)

We get a recording of “Let me Know,” which is cool, even if it can’t hold a candle to Aaliyah’s actual vocals. R.Kelly almost kisses her in the studio. They are getting too close. Aaliyah’s first single, “Age Ain’t nothing but a Number,” is a #1 hit, and she is on tour with Keith Sweat and Blackstreet. Rumors of Aaliyah and R.Kelly dating hit the press, and she denies the relationship publicly. (At the request of R.Kelly to keep the relationship on the DL.) 

Aaliyah and R.Kelly get married, and her parents are horrified that their 15-year-old daughter has manipulated by a man half her age. The demand that the marriage gets annulled, or they will charge R.Kelly with statutory rape. (Which they should have.) Aaliyah hates her parents to ruin her life, and things go back to normal. Aaliyah is a typical high schooler, except she is pining after R.Kelly.

Uncle Barry wants to producer her next album to continue to capitalize on her success. Aaliyah doesn’t want to record without R.Kelly and worries about the record. After a pep talk from her mother, she commits to working on her singing and acting skills. 

Aaliyah flys to LA and wines and dines with record label executives and talent managers. She doesn’t want to work with an established producer and suggests Timberland and Missy Elliott. (Unknowns at the time.) They surprisingly agree. 

In the studio, Timberland and a very skinny Missy Elliott work on some tracks. 

Aaliyah’s look is solidified, and her second album is even more significant than the first. Her talent manager gets her on the soundtrack, and she performs at the 70th Acadamy Awards for Anastasia’s best original song, “Journey from the Past.” The actress does a subpar and pitchy cover of the song in full. Then she lands a role in Romeo Must Die.

With lots of hunky shirtless men at a white party, Aaliyah bonds with Damon Dash over fame, music, and love. Could it be her second chance at love? A montage of them traveling the world together happens to confirm that they are falling in love. Even Aaliyah’s parents approve of Damon. 

Aaliyah then sings “The One I Gave My Heart To.” again in full and poorly. Lifetime and most of the world cannot get to Aaliyah’s music catalog, which is a damn travesty. (This could be changing soon.)

A music video for “Rock the Boat” is scheduled to be shot in The Bahamas. She says goodbye to Damon and leaves to film the video. The plane crash details that killed the R & B singer and all the passengers onboard are not covered. Read about the crash here.

Side Note

Minority Report: The cast consists of mostly black actors.

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Overall rating

🔪 (1 Knife)

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*Photo Credit: © 2014 Lifetime

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