Are You That Somebody?

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"Are You That Somebody?"
Single by Aaliyah
from the album Dr. Dolittle
Released June 16, 1998
Format CD single, maxi single, vinyl record
Recorded 1997-1998
at The Village Recorder
(Los Angeles, California)
Genre R&B[1]
Length 4:26
Label Blackground/Atlantic
Writer(s) Static Major, Tim "Timbaland" Mosley
Producer(s) Timbaland
Aaliyah singles chronology
"Journey to the Past"
(1998)
"Are You That Somebody?"
(1998)
"I Don't Wanna"
(1999)
Timbaland singles chronology
"Hot Like Fire"
(1997)
"Are You That Somebody?"
(1998)
"Get on the Bus"
(1998)

"Are You That Somebody?" is a Grammy nominated single performed by American singer Aaliyah, recorded for the Dr. Dolittle soundtrack. The song was written and composed by Static Major, who also sang backing vocals, and Timbaland, who, in addition to writing the song, produced and performed a guest rap for it. The song was sent to U.S. Pop radio stations on September 29, 1998 (see 1998 in music). The song samples the sound of a baby cooing from Perrey and Kingsley's 1966 hit "Countdown at 6" and D. Train's 1982 dance classic "You're the One for Me".

The song was listed 387th on The 500 Greatest Songs Since You Were Born, a list of songs compiled by Blender magazine.[2] It was also ranked 18th on Spin magazine's Top 20 Singles of the 90's, and 5th on The Village Voice's 1998 Pazz & Jop critics' poll. Pitchfork Media included the song at number 8 on their Top 200 Tracks of the 90s.[3] This song earned Aaliyah a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.

Writing and recording[edit]

According to a Static Major article in Vibe magazine, when he first presented the song to Aaliyah, she initially showed disdain for it.[4] However, she eventually agreed to record it. In a behind the scenes videos featuring Timbaland, he reveals that the record was recorded in a couple of hours after a show and that the record almost didn't happen.[5] Many of the unusual beats and loops used on the song were cut at the now defunct Hit Factory in New York City by Timbaland, NYLA and Danger Jay.

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Are You That Somebody?" was directed by Mark Gerard, and with choreography by Fatima Robinson. It begins with Timbaland and a crew of men riding motorcycles to a cave where Aaliyah and other women are waiting. As Timbaland and the crew arrive, a hologram of a metal door seals the opening of the cave. The men notice that the seal is a hologram and drive through it. Inside the underground cave clips of Dr. Dolittle are projected on several walls in the background.

As Aaliyah's first verse starts she holds a large bird on her arm and everyone begins to perform the choreography. There are scenes with just the women dancing, just the men dancing, both the women and men dancing, and Aaliyah performing alone. There are no scenes with just the men and Aaliyah dancing. Also shown is Timbaland rapping with the group Playa in the background. The video ends with Aaliyah and the dancers performing a flamenco dance.

The video was retired on MTV's TRL and was the third most-played clip on MTV in 1998.[6]

There are two versions of the video, one incorporating footage from Dr. Dolittle on the wall, and second without the scenes and with slightly different editing (this version was released on I Care 4 U DVD). The video was shot in a real cave at Griffith Park in Los Angeles.

Reception[edit]

In its album guide, Rolling Stone commented that the song "remains one of '90s' R&B's most astounding moments."[1]

Charts performance[edit]

"Are You That Somebody?" was in the midst of its chart run when Billboard changed its policy to allow airplay-only singles to chart on the Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop charts. It climbed to number four on the Hot 100 Airplay chart and number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart.

In New Zealand, it jumped from number forty-three to number one; the song with biggest jump to number-one of that year.[7] In the Netherlands, it peaked at number one and stayed in the chart for twenty-two weeks; it also became one of her most successful songs there.[8] The song was also successful in: Belgium, where it peaked at number forty-two;[9][10] Switzerland, where it peaked at number seven;[11] and Germany, where it peaked at number thirty-one. It also reached the top twenty in the United Kingdom, becoming her highest-charting hit at that point in her career. The song also reached the top 10 in Canada.

Charts[edit]

Chart (1998) Peak
position
Belgium (Flanders) Singles Chart 42
Belgium (Wallonia) Singles Chart 40
Canadian Singles Chart 6
Dutch Singles Chart 1
German Singles Chart 31
New Zealand RIANZ Singles Chart 1
Swiss Singles Chart 41
UK Singles Chart 11
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 21
U.S. Billboard Pop Songs 6
U.S. Billboard Radio Songs 4
U.S. Billboard Rhythmic Airplay Chart 1
U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay 1

Covers and interpolations[edit]

In March 2007 American Indie rock band, Gossip, covered the song on BBC's music program 6music. A full studio version was leaked in 2009 and later released on the Ministry of Sound Volume 2 compilation in 2010. In 2009, Canadian rapper Drake interpolated a portion of the song's chorus in his verse on Young Money Entertainment's "BedRock"; "Girl I gotta watch my back, 'cause I'm not just anybody." In 2012, Danny! incorporated elements of Timbaland's beatboxing into "Myintrotoletuknow" along with the cooing baby from Perrey and Kingsley's "Countdown at 6".

In 2011, a cover with a rap verse by Wax was recorded by The Red Ribbon Army.[12]

Samples from the song have been used in numerous electronic, and, most recently, dubstep tracks.

In club radio stations, Australian artist Gotye mixes the song with his song Somebody That I Used To Know with Kimbra.

In 2013 American rapper Lil Wayne interpolated a part of the song into to the chorus for his song "Love Me" singing the lines "cause I really need somebody, tell me you're that somebody" During the same year , a Nigerian artist "Valentina Amour" used a sample of the chorus on her single "Sometimes"

In 2014, singer Banks performed an acoustic version of this song on a BBC radio 1 Live Lounge

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by
"Without a Doubt" by Che Fu
RIANZ (New Zealand) number-one single
October 11, 1998 – October 18, 1998
Succeeded by
"No Matter What" by Boyzone