Singer/actress Aaliyah was just 22-years old when she died in a plane crash on August 25, 2001, but she had already accomplished so much. She touched the lives of everyone she came in contact with as well as her many fans worldwide. One person who got the chance to work closely with Aaliyah was rapper DMX. In a candid interview with The Boombox he remembers her.
"Aaliyah is sincerely missed," DMX tells The BoomBox, his voice lower than the usual boisterous tone he delivers. Eleven years have passed since the iconic chanteuse's untimely death on Aug. 25, 2001, a date that marks an irreplaceable loss in the R&B spectrum.
X shared a bond with the One in a Million creator, having worked closely with her on the 2000 film "Romeo Must Die" and on the accompanying soundtrack, for which they recorded the memorable song "Come Back in One Piece." During the supporting video shoot, the rapper recalls a particular moment between the two that didn't sit so well with one onlooker.
"I had fun shooting that video," the 41-year-old Yonkers, N.Y., native admits. "My wife [Tashera Simmons] got mad because there was one scene I was sitting up on the bench and [Aaliyah] was sitting [below] between my legs. I had on a jean jacket, it was a little chilly, and [Aaliyah] just had on a T-shirt.
"I was rubbing her arms, warming her up... I just felt the eyeballs [from Tashera]. A wife can give you a stare that will burn the side of your head. It was like a magnifying glass with the sun on me [laughs]. But I wouldn't change a thing."
The memories DMX has of the lauded singer are both personal and positive. His youngest daughter, 1, shares Aaliyah's name -- a sign of appreciation for the impact the deceased performer had on his life. Years ago, he brought Aaliyah to an awards show in L.A. as his guest. The exact event slips the Undisputed MC's mind but a smile washes over his face as he speaks on how he saw himself as "the man" that day.
"When I found out [Aaliyah] would go to an awards show with me, I said, 'Alright I got to make the movie,'" DMX states. "So I went and got the convertible; I think it was a Rolls Royce, Bentley -- one of the two. It was me, her, her brother and my security. Pushing the convertible, like, 'Yeah, see who in the passenger seat, n----.' Like, 'I'm the man right now.'"
While much of their time together was marked by entertaining moments, the "I Don't Dance" rhymer turns solemn when thinking back on the day she died in a tragic plane crash in the Bahamas 11 years ago.
"Her presence will be felt long after all of us are dead," he explains as he sits on a black leather couch. "That's the thing about a great artist. Music is timeless. Music will never die. She'll never die. I think it's only in death do we recognize a person's true presence."
Fans still feel her absence and remember the remarkable career she had at just 22 years old. Double platinum-selling accolades, chart-topping albums like Age Ain't Nothing But a Number, respected movie roles and Grammy nominations were just a few of the accomplishments she earned as an entertainer. DMX believes her dedication and genuine attitude in life and work are what keeps her spirit alive after her death.
"There are some people that are alive and breathing right now but they're not here," X says pointedly. "They can f****** fall out the window right now and nobody would miss them. We'd see the stain on the floor but, you know, two days later, you don't really miss 'em.
"But some people, when they're gone, physically, they leave a void. And that's definitely what happened with Aaliyah. She left an emptiness."