I believe in TRANSFORMATION"
-Lisa "Left-Eye" Lopes
Way before she entered a room, she made herself known. You heard her coming. Her speaking voice, was so distinct and full of liberated confidence that it alone effected everyone around her. She was a vivacious beauty whose poetry was often mistaken for trivial rap verses, but to the true fans who really heard her, she was a lyrical genius.
The Philadelphia native grew to super stardom with Atlanta natives, Tionne "T BOZ" Watkins and Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas, who together formed the innovative pop group, TLC.
For many including myself, it was Lopes who made the group what it was. It was she who was the final star on top of the Christmas tree. That tree, stood out like none other in the wonderland which often shines bright but is rare to give true joy. The music industry can be as cold as a winter wonderland, but outsiders would never know it, too mesmerized by the lights and the smiling singing victims roasting on an open fire.
Her rhymes were the icing on the cake and her outspoken, rebellious nature, gave the group the edge it needed. Lopes was the unapologetic speeding bullet which enabled the group to ascend the industry. It was she who came up with the names of their albums. The funny thing is, She was all of it: CRAZY, SEXY and COOL.
But on April 25, 2002, on a beautiful hot day on a Hondurus roadway, the woman who was never "Too proud to beg" transformed into something bigger.
The condom totting diva had plans to tell her own story. She'd signed with Suge Knight while fighting tooth and nail with the other members of TLC over creative issues. She had plans to go solo and she refused to settle for anything less than what TLC afforded her. What was "LEFT-EYE" after? Who did she want the world to see?
She had changed her name to "N.I.N.A." and unveiled a more spiritual, cool calm and collected side of herself which was always there but often overshadowed by her antics.
|Left-Eye became"N.I.N.A." posed with Suge Knight, and her new team|
I think it is clear, the multifaceted woman who often discussed the meaning of life and who could burn an entire house down in the midst of rage was meant for greatness. Greatness is what she achieved just by the lives she changed with her messages, but more greatness was to be had in the unveiling of her solo stage. I think she would have continued to fight for her creative independence. I think she would have continued to fight for distribution in the United States and I think she would have continued to WIN all of the battles she waged.
The image of her with Donnell Jones in his video for "You know what's up" flashes in my head. She cat-walked down a hallway and spit rhymes that would send all the male rappers back into the studio. You had to rewind the track, because you didn't get it the first time. The woman could roll heads with her double meanings. The video was hot because SHE was in it. The song was on the radio because SHE was in it. She looked sexier than she did in the Red Light Special video. It was a preview to what she could do without TLC. If she survived, Nicki Minaj would never have become a "FIVE STAR CHICK" and "N.I.N.A." would have no parts in the gimmicks.
Had Lisa awoken on April 26, 2002, more lives would continue to be changed with her humanitarian work. While scoring Grammys, she'd perform with Madonna on the Super Bowl and eventually would have starred in several movies. I envision a "playtime-is-over-diva" on a movement of self-awareness. I see her having her own change your life talk show, rivaling the entire Oprah network.
I see millions at arenas around the world, believing in themselves even more, because after all, dreams are hopeless aspirations, in hopes of coming true. Believe in yourself, the rest is up to me and you.
Quiet as it's kept, I also see a fearless woman whose witnessed miracles of God. I see an introspective woman who unleashes her knowledge of natural cures to the world. I see her leading scores of people to happiness and health. And I see her dragging T Boz's stubborn ass down to the jungle. Lisa was a woman who didn't believe the lies and would never recite lines. She was a woman who could do without the glory, if she could gain freedom instead. She lead people to truth. She showed us all a mirror and commanded us to look deeper. If she were alive, she'd keep digging for truth and beauty. She would hand out the shovels, because she didn't believe she had to do it alone.
"It's hard to say what I want my legacy to be when I'm long gone....
I want people to remember me as a full on entertainer and a good person."
She had a quiet strength. It was as if a humming bird landed on your shoulder and completely changed your life. There was a mystery to her. There was depth to her. There was a wisdom beyond years. After all, "Age aint nothing but a number" right?
The Brooklyn, New York native, Aaliyah Dana Haughton, was that superstar who you didn't see coming. She'd sit back at auditions while the others were obnoxious and loud with their talents. The Capricorn in her, wouldn't allow people to get the best of her. She couldn't let them know what she was to become. She liked to mystify them while rising beyond their occasion. She was born a star and she knew it.
One look into her eyes and you nearly left earth. As the wind caught her long black hair, the boys would stare and shake in their boots. She didn't flaunt it, she just WAS it. She could wear baggy jeans and be the sexiest woman in the room. She was an American sweetheart, the kind of girl teenage boys wanted to bring home to mama. She was like none other. She was a one in a million.
As she arched her eyebrow in her music videos and sang over heavy beats, the thugs on the streets had to catch themselves as they tried to play it off. Yea, we heard you singing her lyrics, we saw you bobbing your head and it's ok. Aaliyah was that kind of artist and that kind of woman. In fact, she was more than a woman, she was a FORCE. She wasn't all about rainbows and glitter, she was no Mariah Carey. She wanted to hang with the boys, she wanted to challenge his "GIRL" because if she only knew....She wasn't afraid to rock the boat nor was she afraid to fall into the water. She was cute but she wasn't about to change into a miniskirt for anyone. She was fine on the hood of a car, chillin with her shades on because the moon was just too bright. It was cramping her style.
The woman with the snake around her waist had big plans. After winning an MTV Video Music Award, she headed back to Austrailia to be a Queen of the Damned. But she wasn't finished there, she wanted to take her music to the next level. She was in talks to do a ROCK soundtrack to the film. She wanted to sing over an electric guitar, she wanted to move across the genres of the industry because she was such a WORLDLY person. She was to play a video dancer in the film HONEY. She was to be the new SPARKLE and did I mention a starring role in THE MATRIX? This was a woman who could record a soundtrack, plan an album while shooting videos for her current album, fly across the world to film a movie while in pre-production for two other films. Are you telling me that any these women today would have stood a chance if she didn't board that plane? She would have given Beyonce a run for her money.
|Haughton on the set of The Matrix as "Zee"|
On August 25, 2001, she wrapped up the video for ROCK THE BOAT in the beautiful Bahamas. She was tired and homesick. She was in the middle of a busy schedule. She napped in between takes. She was excited for her new more sensual style and really excited for this tropical female-empowering video. It was time to go back to the states. As she and her crew boarded the plane, they were informed that they had too much stuff. But they boarded anyway. Ms. Haughton had appointments, interviews, recording sessions, meetings and more shit planned, she couldn't wait, she had to get on the plane. They insisted.
An exhausted twenty-two year old singer, sat in her seat near the middle of the plane. She looked out of her window as the plane rose above the tree tops. Then came the unexpected. Then came the heat. Then came the darkness. And the news reports filtered into the states. I received the news through an instant message.
I screamed and my irritated parents woke up.
|On the set of Queen of the Damned|
She would have collaborated with music artists from many genres. She would have given Angelina Jolie competition for movie roles, as a sexy villainous movie star. Her mystique would have captured the world and she would have received an academy award. She would have cut her hair and Twitter would have gone crazy. Some would love it, others would hate it. There would never have been any need for Ashanti and the Queen would have worked to eliminate AIDS, feed the starving and lots more around the world.
She would have been bigger than Beyonce. She wouldn't have been placed in films because of her looks or because of her name, she would have booked movie roles because of her talent. She was headed for super stardom, she was closer to her dreams because she was finally beginning to create the image she wanted for herself. Finally, she was beginning to cross all borders. Finally she was starting to become that FULL ENTERTAINER. But what she is most known for is being something like an angel, you know, a "good person."