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One in a Million is the second studio album by American singer Aaliyah. It was released on August 13, 1996, by Blackground Records and Atlantic Records. Recorded from August 1995 to July 1996, the album features collaborations with a variety of producers and writers, including Timbaland, Missy Elliott, Carl-So-Lowe, J. Dibbs, Jermaine Dupri, Kay Gee, Vincent Herbert, Rodney Jerkins, Craig King, Darren Lighty and Darryl Simmons, as well as several guest appearances, including those from Elliott, Timbaland, Treach and Slick Rick.

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One in a Million garnered generally positive reviews from music critics. It debuted at number 20 on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 40,500 copies during its first week and later peaked at number 18; following its 2021 reissue, it reached a new peak at number 10. Within several months, the album was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). It has sold over three million copies in the United States and eight million worldwide.

In a press release accompanying One in a Million, Aaliyah admitted to being "a little anxious about jumping from Jive to Atlantic and changing up her sound, but that uncertainty never filters into the music."[12] However, with a new distributing deal with Atlantic and a new team of producers, One in a Million was going to re-establish Aaliyah's fanbase and broaden her mainstream appeal, as the album featured a wide range of producers, unlike Age Ain't Nothing but a Number, which was produced solely by Kelly.[14] Additionally, with the release of One in a Million, Aaliyah adapted a sexier image, which was quickly noticed by the public.[15] In a 1997 article discussing the music video for "One in a Million", MTV staff felt that Aaliyah was getting "all grown up and steamy in the video", to which Aaliyah responded by saying "as far as it being sexy, I would prefer to say sensual. Sensual is being in tune with your sensual self. Sexy, I mean that's in the eye of the beholder, such as beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So if people term it sexy, it's different. So I just think it's being sensual, I would rather term it as that."[15]

One in a Million was recorded from August 1995 until July 1996,[16] with Craig Kallman, Barry Hankerson and Jomo Hankerson serving as executive producers.[17] Other producers involved in crafting the album include Rodney Jerkins, Jermaine Dupri, Daryl Simmons, Vincent Herbert, Craig King, Carl-So-Low, KayGee from Naughty by Nature, Missy Elliott and Timbaland. While speaking with Billboard about the development of the album, Atlantic Records' product-development director Eddie Santiago mentioned: "We wanted Aaliyah to keep growing, so we didn't want to have the same suspects on her new project". In the same interview, Aaliyah discussed the direction of the album: "I wanted to maintain my smooth street musical image but wanted to be funky and hot yet sophisticated".[14] With One in a Million, Aaliyah was more involved with crafting the album's material by taking co-writing credits and assisting in the creative direction of the project.[14] She co-wrote and was involved with the vocal arrangement of the song "No Days Go By", which was produced by Herbert and King along with Rheji Burrell.[18] Initially, Sean Combs was to helm the production of One in a Million but the songs in which he collaborated with Aaliyah were never finished. According to Aaliyah, "I went to [Combs'] studio in Trinidad for a week, we started working together but we couldn't finish the songs on time. I had to leave, because I had to go to Atlanta to record with Jermaine Dupri."[13]

After plans to have Combs produce the album fell through, Herbert and King were the first producers asked to work on the album. King stated: "We came in right as she got her budget ready to go. Vincent and I were the first people she called, we were the first group. That's why we had so much freedom to go in and create a sound because we didn't have to do a song here or there. They wanted us to go in and build a sound. We built a sound and it was a departure from R. Kelly."[18] Aaliyah recorded about eight songs with King at the Vanguard Studios. King stated: "We did about eight songs and out of the eight, four made it", including a cover of "Got to Give It Up" by Marvin Gaye and "Never Givin' Up".[18] Aaliyah decided to cover "Got to Give It Up" because she "wanted some real party songs, so when my uncle played me that [original track], I thought of how I could make it different. Slick Rick [who had been in jail] was on work release at the time, so Vincent got him on the song", adding: "I don't know how Marvin Gaye fans will react, but I hope they like it, I always think it's a great compliment when people remake songs. I hope one day after I'm not here that people will cover my songs".[13]

Once Aaliyah signed with Atlantic, she and Kallman discussed that it was important to find innovative producers who were not widely known to produce the album, as the ultimate goal was to find Aaliyah her own new sound which would define her as an artist.[18] Eventually, Kallman started meeting with multiple unknown songwriters and producers, stating: "I really just started meeting with tons and tons of new songwriters and producers, just looking for someone creative that had their own spin on things. And one day, this young kid came in. His name was Tim Mosley. He started playing me beats and it was a really obvious meeting of, 'This doesn't sound like anything that's out there and really had its own super exciting and electric, just dynamic properties."[18] According to Kallman, "I called up Aaliyah, and I said, 'You need to meet this guy. His name's Timbaland, and he's new. He's out of the Devonte [Swing] camp.' I said 'I think this could be your muse to really create something special.' And they hit it off".[18]

Prior to meeting Timbaland and Elliott Aaliyah's label received a demo from them, of a song called "Sugar and Spice".[19] The label felt that the song was too childish content-wise but they liked both its structure and melody so they sent it to Aaliyah. After hearing the song, she thought that record was the best thing that she had ever heard. Consequently, Timbaland and Elliott were flown to Detroit to work with her.[19] Aaliyah stated: "At first, Tim and Missy were skeptical if I would like their work, but I thought it was tight, just ridiculous. Their sound was different and unique, and that's what appealed to me", adding: "Before we got together, I talked to them on the phone and told them what I wanted. I said, 'You guys know I have a street image, but there is a sexiness to it, and I want my songs to complement that'; I told them that before I even met them. Once I said that, I didn't have to say anything else. Everything they brought me was the bomb."[13] Subsequently, Aaliyah began recording with Timbaland and Elliott at the Vanguard Studios in Detroit; the first songs she recorded for the album with the duo were "One in a Million" and "If Your Girl Only Knew".[13] After spending a week recording songs at the Vanguard Studios, the trio flew to Ithaca, New York, to work on more songs at the Pyramid Studios.[13]

The song "The One I Gave My Heart To" came into fruition when Diane Warren expressed interest in working with Aaliyah; Warren said: "I remember really liking Aaliyah and wanting to work with her."[18] Warren reached out to Kallman to express her wish to work with Aaliyah and Kallman agreed to the collaboration. Warren's goal in working with Aaliyah was to have her perform a certain song that she would not have normally performed to showcase a different side of her, which included displaying her vocal range in a different way than what she was used to doing.[18] Once Warren was on board, producer Babyface was chosen to produce the song. Due to unforeseen circumstances, he was unable to complete the work, so he enlisted producer Daryl Simmons to replace him instead.[18]Simmons would go on to produce the album version of the song, while producer Guy Roche would go on to produce the single version.[20]

According to Micha Frazer-Carroll from The Independent, One in a Million "had a bold, expansive vision, with tracks effortlessly bouncing from trip-hop to sensual slow jams to jungle beats".[21] The album opens with an "alarm call" from the jungle-inspired intro "Beats 4 Da Streets", featuring commentary from Missy Elliott. Throughout the intro, Elliott repeatedly calls Aaliyah's name and tells her to wake up, while various sounds such as echoing amid bells, blippy synths, and heavy bass are playing in the background.[22][23][12]The second track "Hot Like Fire" is a "fine" trip hop song and it is described as a "panting minimalist controlled-blaze baby-maker" with suggestive lyrics.[24][12][25] On "Hot Like Fire", Aaliyah "hums and moans promises to her new bae that his patience will be rewarded".[26] The album's title track is an ethereal club ballad with "seductive" trip hop, funk, electronica, and drum and bass influences; it features "shimmering" synths and crickets within its production.[27][28][23][29] On "One in a Million", Aaliyah "communicates love and commitment to her man."[30]

The fourth track "A Girl Like You" is a hip hop-inspired track with a "standard 90s boom-bap beat", where Aaliyah "holds her own" against featured rapper Treach from Naughty by Nature.[27][12] During the chorus, both Aaliyah and Treach engage in a "cute back-and-forth".[26] The fifth track "If Your Girl Only Knew" is a "bouncing" funk, pop and hip hop song described by critics as "teasingly witchy".[31][32][33][34] On "If Your Girl Only Knew", Aaliyah "chides a man for hitting on her when he already has a girlfriend".[31] The song features heavy keyboard and organ work along with live drums and a thumping bassline.[14] The sixth and seventh tracks "Choosey Lover (Old School/New School)" and "Got to Give It Up" are both covers, of songs originally performed by The Isley Brothers and Marvin Gaye, respectively, with the latter featuring a guest appearance from rapper Slick Rick.[14] "Choosey Lover (Old School/New School)", "mimics the 1983 original faithfully for the first four minutes before departing into a more modern extended outro".[27] While, on "Got to Give It Up", Aaliyah places her falsetto "toe to toe against the liquid overlapping rhyme scheme of hip hop's ultimate storyteller Slick Rick".[35] On the eighth track "4 Page Letter", Aaliyah tells her "crush to keep an eye out for the mailman" because she has sent him a love letter, while recalling and following her parents' advice.[12][30] 350c69d7ab


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