Album Name: Age Ain't Nothing But a Number
Genre: R&B, new jack swing and pop
Release Date: May 24, 1994
At Aroundtable, we have not reviewed many hip hop artists with a few exceptions like The Last Dragon soundtrack or the Beat Street soundtrack.
Recently I was going through my CD collection to convert some albums to my Google Music library and I came across this gem of an album. I remembered a few songs but I did not remember much from the rest of the album.
Here was my chance to review this under appreciated gem. Looking at the release date, this makes me feel very old. Technically speaking this is a classic album since it hit its 25 year mark.
2."Throw Your Hands Up"
3."Back & Forth"
4."Age Ain't Nothing but a Number"
5."Down with the Clique"
6."At Your Best (You Are Love)"
7."No One Knows How to Love Me Quite Like You Do"
8."I'm So into You"
Back then, there were some controversies in regards to R. Kelly being producer on the album. I will not comment on that as I want to review the merit of the album on its own. Having said that, let us continue.
This was the debut album for Aaliyah. She was an up and coming star that had a lot of potential. I remember listening to her music video on Much Music called Back and Forth. I really liked the beat and fell in love with her voice. I think given the chance she would have rivalled any singing R&B artist hands down. Too bad that she left us way too early in 2001 from an airplane crash.
As I mentioned above, I loved the song Back and Forth. It is a chill party theme. It has that smooth Aaliyah voice. There is just something about the song that I can listen to it over and over again and can never get tired of it. I believe that it was the first single on the album and it peaked at number 1 on the US R&B charts.
The singles I'm So Into You and Throw Your Hands Up, sound like old school rap and hip hop. I think that they are strong entries on the album.
There are a few ballads like Age Ain't Nothing But a Number. Although it sounds good as a song, the fact that it was sung by Aaliyah and produced by R.Kelly, it does seem a little weird even after all these years. Considering that Aaliyah was only 15 years old at the time, and R. Kelly had skeletons in his closet, the lyrics do not feel natural. However the beat is good and it has a good R&B vibe.
I'm So Into You is a very catchy song. Not sure why it did not chart at all as I think it could have been just as big of a success as Back and Forth.
Overall it is a good debut album with some lyrical inconsistencies. I am sure not many people paid attention to the unbalanced lyrics but listened more to the beats. The album has some really good songs that I believe have gone through the test of time. Back and Forth and I'm So Into You are the 2 that stand out to me.
Does this album hold up after all these years? I think that it does. Although it was released in the mid 90s, the rhythms still hold up to today. The songs do have that 90's sound but it would fit in well with any current chart topper today.
Aaliyah was a talent that we lost way too soon. She would end up releasing 2 more albums before her passing. They kept getting better and better, but this was a great foundation to build on.
If you are in the mood for an old R&B and Rap classic, then this could be your jam. I have said this on other reviews, if we replaced Aaliyah with another singer like Whitney Houston or Toni Braxton (who were big at the time), would this album be just as good? I do not think that it would have. Aaliyah had a unique voice that was clear but not whiny like some other artists. I think this is the reason why this album still holds up.
The writing is where this makes it a good album and not a great album. The rapping parts are ok but not fantastic. Sometimes, as I eluded to earlier, some of the lyrics did not fit the singer. It makes it a little less personal in some parts. However, when it does work well, it works really well like with Throw Your Hands Up.
If you have not listened to this album before, it is available on many streaming services and also on YouTube. I do not think that you will be disappointed.
Back and Forth - Aaliyah
What do you think? Did you like the album or not, let us know!