Aaliyah’s Tragic Love Story With Damon Dash Will Teach You To Take Chances

By | aaliyah, dating, Food for thought, heartbreak, Inspiring Celebrities, Motivation, stories

Aaliyah’s been gone twenty years, but the footprint she’s left behind is unmistakable. 

The Princess of R&B, along with eight others, tragically passed away in an airplane crash over the Bahamas on August 25, 2001. It’s the kind of death that’s capable of decimating and devastating an entire culture, where no one recovers from the sudden loss of potential; where no one can process how a universally beloved figure, with countless media appearances to her name, can just cease to exist in a matter of few minutes. 

There’s something eerily personal about a celebrity’s passing. They might be dead, but their artistry still shines through, their work is still available to be cherished and adapted and celebrated an infinite number of times over. Similarly, Aaliyah’s death continues to draw out heartfelt tributes and nostalgic reactions, revealing bit by bit the woman who lived beneath the glamor and the chaos. 

To give an example: on the occasion of Aaliyah’s 20th death anniversary, her boyfriend at the time, Damon Dash, opened up about their unique love story, and in doing so, unearthed yet another magical piece about the artist. 

Aaliyah’s boyfriend opens up about their relationship

Damon Dash, a media tycoon, entrepreneur, film producer, and co-founder of Roc-A-Fella with Jay-Z and Kareem Burke, had been dating Aaliyah for about a year before she was killed in the airline accident.They met at a basketball game in the summer of 2000 before being introduced by their mutual accountant, Barry Klarberg.Though they took a liking to each other nearly immediately, they intended to maintain a friendship and nothing else. 

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Damon delves into their beginnings as a couple and excavates a side of Aaliyah many might not recall. At first, he and Aaliyah bonded over a book, Gary Zukav’s The Seat of the Soul, which they started reading together. The intellectual, thought-provoking conversions that emerged, as a result, solidified their connection for good. “From then on, we were sort of inseparable,” he told the outlet. Soon enough, sparks began to fly, and they decided they would give their budding romance a serious chance.

Our intention at first wasn’t even to be in love. We were just really good friends and we fell for real. It was almost an accident. 

Damon Dash on Entertainment Tonight

Damon couldn’t be more thankful about how they were able to forge an intimate and memorable relationship away from the prying eyes of the public. The 50-year-old also revealed they wanted to marry each other at one point but didn’t want to make the grave mistake of rushing down the aisle. That’s why they agreed upon a plan: they would cohabit for six months straight, “see if we can tolerate being around each other with no distractions,” and if they still loved each other at the end of the period, they would make it official. 

Unfortunately, the plan never came to fruition, and they weren’t able to tie the knot. 

He says she taught him how to love

Twenty years on, Damon has a number of regrets about his time with Aaliyah, one of which was that he didn’t get to make enough memories with her. They were both busy, ambitious people mired in a series of projects, so they didn’t have a lot of time to give to each other. She would be shooting a film in Australia, and he would be occupied with “companies to run” — their schedules kept clashing every step of the way. Nevertheless, Damon said, “We would have such a good time when we saw each other, it just always felt fresh.”

Of course, the moments they shared were irrevocably special, and he’ll always be in awe of the woman who changed his life. But, at the end of the day, when the love of your life is gone, nothing is enough, and you are left longing for their warm company every second. Aaliyah taught Damon how to love, how to live every day with passion, interest, and unending appreciation. Had it not been for her, he wouldn’t know how to acknowledge or recognize love in himself or others. 

I didn’t know what being in love was. I didn’t even understand what that feeling is and I was able to really achieve that with her. Now I know what it feels like, so I was able to identify it when it happened again. 

Damon Dash on Entertainment Tonight

As a tribute to Aaliyah or a result of her impact on him, he makes sure to spend every waking moment with people he genuinely loves. “I would only be around people I love,” he said. He doesn’t care to surround himself with people who don’t treasure him. He’s also begun to take account of his own feelings to the point it’s become the sole “currency” in how he navigates through this world. 

Damon also takes pleasure in the fact that he was the one who dated her until the very end. If someone else had been in his position, he would have been seething in envy, so he allows himself to feel grateful for the part he played in her life, and vice versa. “It’s almost amazing to me that I was the guy who was with Aaliyah. Like, I am almost a fan of myself,” he said. It’s ultimately an unfortunate situation, but this part does enable him to reflect on the past with a fresh perspective. 

Grief is a transformative process at its essence, so every person will come to grips with reality at their own pace, in their own time. For Damon, it comforts him to picture Aaliyah as an angel, someone watching over her loved ones in fierce protection and dedication. “They’re signs to me, it means she’s talking to me,” he said. 

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Dare to take chances and fall in love

Nobody really knows what will occur in the future, but if you want to keep the regrets as minimal as possible, don’t be afraid to take chances. There are a hundred ways you could get hurt, but at least you can tell yourself you showed up, you fell in love, and you risked your heart. There’s no bigger failure than not trying at all, so if you decide to take a chance, you’re opening yourself up to a world of possibilities. You never know if the person you share a profound connection with disappears the following day, so all you can do is give your everything, live in the moment, and follow your heart. 

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Aaliyah’s Forgotten Light: Her Powerful Legacy Beyond Death — and R. Kelly

By | aaliyah, challenging, Food for thought, inspiring celebs, Inspiring Stories, musician, stories

Almost two decades ago, a bright star was lost. To this day, the world is still mourning that woman — and what she represented.

August 25 marks the 18th anniversary of the very sad and untimely death of Aaliyah, when she was just 22 years old.

But is the tragedy of Aaliyah’s death overshadowing the memory her amazing talent?

Many people know the story of her sudden and shocking death: a plane crash that also took the life of everyone on board — Aaliyah along with 8 others. In fact, for a lot of people, her tragic fate seems to have eclipsed any memory of her impressive and important life.

Aaliyah Dana Haughton was born in Brooklyn and began sharing her artistry at the tender age of 10. At that age, while living in Detroit, she appeared on the talent show Star Search, and soon after started to work on her first album, Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number, which she released in 1994 — when she was only 15. It went platinum and the whole world was introduced to a rising star.

The Princess of R&B becomes the Queen of Urban Pop

Aaliyah had nowhere to go but up

The newly-crowned “Princess of R&B” helped to bring the genre front and center in the mainstream, and brought a whole new sound “urban pop” sound with her. Her smooth vocals, tight dance moves, and powerful charisma earned her the admiration of her peers and heroes, as well as five Grammy nominations.

Music had been briefly put aside after her second album, One in a Million, while she started to grow her brand by expanding into film, like Romeo Must Die along action icon Jet Lee and Queen of the Damned, in which she played the titular queen.

When the plane crash that took Aaliyah’s life occurred, she was en route back from the Bahamas, where she had filmed a music video for “Rock the Boat”, the newest single of her third and self-titled album. Aaliyah the album was a statement of artistic and personal maturity for the young singer — it finally hit number one on the charts shortly after her death.

Age ain’t nothing but a number?

While Aaliyah is often held up as the personification of a candle blown out too soon, more recently, her relationship with the infamous R. Kelly has been the subject of much focus. 

Aaliyah first met R. Kelly when she was only 12 years old, and it was reported they were illegally married in 1994, when she was only 15. This naturally would have meant she was beneath the age of consent and it was reportedly later annulled, though neither Kelly nor Aaliyah ever actually openly admitted they had been married in the first place. Still, in 1997, Aaliyah reportedly sued to have any marriage records officially expunged and refused to discuss Kelly in public or private.

Starting in 2000, a continual series of accusations would be made against Kelly over the years by various young women and girls. It all seems to have finally come to a head this year, with the airing of Lifetime’s docuseries Surviving R. Kelly and Kelly’s dramatic and aggressive interview with Gayle King.

Speculation about Aaliyah’s relationship to and possible victimization by Kelly have been weighed in widely and broadly. With the anniversary of her death upon us, this all seems to coalesce into a miasma of tragedy that overshadows the true effect Aaliyah had on others: she was — and continues to be — a bringer of light.

One in a million

Missy Elliott wearing a jacket picturing Aaliyah (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)

On her second album One in a Million, Aaliyah sang about how she  “came to spread my love to my fans across the world. Reach out to you, touch the hearts of boys and girls.” As an artist, that’s exactly what she did.

Always conscious of her impact on her fans, Aaliyah touched a lot of people, both creatively and emotionally. That influence is still seen today, not only through the artists who still sing her praises, but also through all fans she inspired and spoke to through her songs.

“I loved the way you carried yourself, the way you dressed, the confidence with which you addressed passion and relationships in your music. I said to myself that even if we never met, I wanted a woman in my life just like you,” Drake wrote in a letter on the anniversary of her death in 2010. The rapper has a tattoo of Aaliyah’s face on his back, so her influence is something he literally carries with him daily.

“I loved the way you carried yourself, the way you dressed, the confidence with which you addressed passion and relationships in your music. I said to myself that even if we never met, I wanted a woman in my life just like you,” Drake wrote in a letter on the anniversary of her death in 2010. The rapper has a tattoo of Aaliyah’s face on his back, so her influence is something he literally carries with him daily.

What we can learn from Aaliyah’s life

Artists admire her, as fans do, for many reasons, but at the forefront of those memories was that there was an authenticity to her music, and a realness to her words, that many have tried to replicate since her time, and few have come even close.

Aaliyah wasn’t a performer trying to replicate what someone else was doing, she was simply herself. Always.

When the artists we grow up with are lost before their time, the blow has a particular pain to it. The lost potential compounds the life lost. Aaliyah was very much still on her way up, and had so much more music and inspiration left inside her to share.

We are still mourning the loss of Aaliyah, decades after her death, but it’s also important to celebrate her life and talent. Aaliyah deserves to be remembered — not for the men she was involved with, or the way that she died, but for the amazing life she lived while she was here.

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