Battle Between Aaliyah Estate and Former Manager Breaks Into the Open

A long-running battle between the estate of the late R&B singer Aaliyah Haughton and her uncle/ former manager/ label chief Barry Hankerson broke into the open on Wednesday after teasers about forthcoming music were posted online.

The singer, who died in a plane crash at the age of 21, is arguably the most popular and prominent artist whose top album is not available on streaming services, due to a conflict between Hankerson and the estate that has gone on for the better part of two decades.

“For 20 years we have battled behind the scenes, enduring shadowy tactics of deception,” the estate’s statement reads, “now, this unscrupulous endeavor to release Aaliyah’s music without transparency or full accounting to the estate compels our hearts to express a word – forgiveness,” but pledges to “continue to defend ourselves and her legacy lawfully.”

The statement was a response to a social media post from Blackground2 Records — derived from the name of Hankerson’s label — promising “Aaliyah is coming.” The estate has been largely silent since the singer’s death in 2001 and few details have emerged about what exactly is preventing her final and most successful album from appearing on streaming services (read more about that here). However, in recent months social media posts from both the estate and Blackground2 have had an optimistic tone and said they were working to resolve the situation.

Based on Wednesday’s posts, that no longer seems to be the case. Reps for the estate and Hankerson did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for further comment.

More to come …



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