Age Ain't Nothing but a Number

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Age Ain't Nothing but a Number
Aaliyah-age-aint-94.jpg
Studio album by Aaliyah
Released May 24, 1994 (1994-05-24)
Recorded January 1993; May 1993-February 1994[1][2]
Studio Chicago Recording Company in Chicago
Genre
Length 48:54
Label
Producer
Aaliyah chronology
Age Ain't Nothing but a Number
(1994)
One in a Million
(1996)
Singles from Age Ain't Nothing But a Number
  1. "Back & Forth"
    Released: May 10, 1994
  2. "At Your Best (You Are Love)"
    Released: August 22, 1994
  3. "Age Ain't Nothing But a Number"
    Released: December 6, 1994
  4. "Down with the Clique"
    Released: May 2, 1995
  5. "The Thing I Like"
    Released: August 3, 1995

Age Ain't Nothing but a Number is the debut studio album by American R&B recording artist Aaliyah, released under Jive and Blackground Records on May 24, 1994, in the United States. After being signed by her uncle Barry Hankerson, Aaliyah was introduced to recording artist and producer R. Kelly. He became her mentor, as well as the lead songwriter and producer of the album. The duo recorded the album at the Chicago Recording Company in Chicago, Illinois. The album featured two hit singles, including the top ten-charting "Back & Forth" and "At Your Best (You Are Love)"; both singles were certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). One additional single followed in the US: "Age Ain't Nothing but a Number". Two more singles were released internationally after "Age Ain't Nothing But a Number": "Down with the Clique" and "The Thing I Like".

Age Ain't Nothing But a Number received generally favorable reviews from critics. Many noted Aaliyah's vocal ability and praised the lyrical content. Aaliyah was credited for redefining R&B by blending her voice with Kelly's new jack swing. The album peaked at number 18 on the Billboard 200 and sold over three million copies in the United States.[5] The album was certified Gold in Canada by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA) and Gold in the United Kingdom by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) to date. The album has sold over six million copies worldwide.[6]

Background and recording[edit]

Aaliyah's uncle Barry Hankerson, was an entertainment lawyer who had been married to Gladys Knight.[7] As a child, Aaliyah traveled with Knight and worked with an agent in New York to audition for commercials and television programs, including Family Matters; she went on to appear on Star Search at the age of ten.[8] Aaliyah chose to begin auditioning while her mother made the decision to have her surname dropped.[9][10] She auditioned for several record labels and at age 11 appeared in concerts alongside Knight.[7][11] After Aaliyah's uncle, signed a distribution deal with Jive Records, he signed her to his Blackground Records label at the age of 12.[12][13] Hankerson then introduced her to recording artist and producer R. Kelly.[14] He became Aaliyah's mentor, as well as lead songwriter and producer of the album.[15][16] Aaliyah and Kelly began recording the album in 1993 when she was 14.[13] The duo recorded the first song, "Old School", at the Chicago Recording Company in Chicago, Illinois.[17][18] While recording the album, Kelly coached her as they worked several hours in the studio. She often sang the songs multiple times in order to achieve "excellence".[19] He claimed that Aaliyah was "one of the best young artists" he had worked with.[18] The original release date for the album was June 14th, but due to the instant success of the lead single's accompanying video on MTV it prompted the Label to release the album earlier on May 24th.[20]

Musical content[edit]

Aaliyah sang her songs in a falsetto. She felt that the songs "came at you kind of tough, a bit edgy, hip-hop, but the vocals can be very soothing".[21] She went on to say, "lyrically I want things to be different."[21]

Marketing and promotion[edit]

While speaking to Billboard about the marketing plans for the album Barry Weiss Senior Vice President Of Jive records stated "The international thrust on the project will begin 6-8 weeks utilizing BMG international". When asked about both Aaliyah's image and the promotional plans for the album weiss said that there will be little in the way of marketing changes between the domestic and world promotion of the set he then spoke about Aaliyah saying, "She is what she is the album has tremendous pop appeal to go along with her urban edge, so there's not a whole lot different that we'll be doing abroad".[22] A month before the release of the debut single, "Back & Forth", Aaliyah attended the Urban Network's "Power Jam" conference, where she was introduced and "received warmly".[18] "Back & Forth" peaked at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 while topping the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for three weeks.[23] The song was certified Gold by the RIAA.[24] The second single, "At Your Best (You Are Love)", peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100 and was also certified Gold by the RIAA.[23][24] In promotion for the album, Aaliyah embarked on a world tour that lasted from 1994 to 1995, she toured through the US, Europe, Japan and South Africa[25][26][27]

Singles[edit]

"Back & Forth" was released as the albums lead single on May 10th 1994 , it reached its peak at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 two months after its release on July 2nd ,1994. [28] The single reached its peak at number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs on May 21st 1994, this would become one of the three number ones that Aaliyah would achieve on this chart.[29] Eventually the single was certified Gold by the RIAA on June 9th 1994 for sales of 700,000 copies sold. [30][31] Internationally Back & Forth became a top 40 hit in the UK and the Netherlands peaking at number Sixteen and Thirty-Eight respectively.[32] [33] In New Zealand the song charted on the top 50 chart peaking at number Forty-Eight.[34] The albums second single "At Your Best (You Are Love)" was released on August 22nd, 1994 and it became Aaliyah's second top ten hit on the Billboard hot 100 peaking at number six.[35] On the r&b/hip hop charts the song also reached the top ten peaking at number two.[36] This song also received a gold certification by the RIAA on October 25th 1994.[37] In Japan the single reached the top twenty spot peaking at number twelve on the Tokio Hot 100 chart.[38] In other international markets At Your Best reached the top forty Peaking at number Twenty-Seven, Thirty-Eight and Forty in the UK, New Zealand and The Netherlands respectively.[39] [40] [41] "Age Ain't Nothing but a Number" was the third single released and it was the least successful single from the album; It also was the last single to be released in the US. It reached its peak at number 75 on the Hot 100 chart on February 25, 1995.[42] In the UK the single fared better on the charts peaking within the top 40 on the official charts at 32 and the top 20 and top 10 on the Official Dance and R&B charts at number 19 and 6.[43] [44] [45] The albums fifth and sixth singles "Down with the Clique" and "The Thing I Like" were released in the UK only. Down with the clique peaked within the top 40 on the official charts at number 32 and within the top 40 and top 10 on the official Dance and R&B charts at number 25 and 5.[46] [47] [48] The Thing i Like also peaked in the top 40 on the official charts at number 33 and within the top 20 and 10 on the Dance and R&B Charts at 15 and 4 respectively.[49] [50] [51]

Reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[8]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 3/5 stars[52]
Entertainment Weekly B+[53]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 2.5/5 stars[54]
Slant Magazine 3/5 stars[55]

Age Ain't Nothing But a Number received generally favorable reviews from music critics, some writers noted that Aaliyah's "silky vocals" and "sultry voice" blended with Kelly's new jack swing helped define R&B in the 1990s.[53][55] Her sound was also compared to that of female quartet En Vogue.[53][56] Christopher John Farley of Time magazine described the album as a "beautifully restrained work", noting that Aaliyah's "girlish, breathy vocals rode calmly on R.Kelly's rough beats".[57] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic felt that the album had its "share of filler," but described the singles as "slyly seductive."[8] He also claimed that the songs on the album were "frequently better" than that of Kelly's first studio album, 12 Play.[8] Paul Verna from Billboard praised both R.Kelly's Production on the album and Aaliyah's voice saying "The golden production touch of mentor R. Kelly is strongly felt here, and he has a field day with Aaliyah's warm silky voice, which has a depth and range that belie her youth."[58]

Commercial performance[edit]

Age Ain't Nothing but a Number debuted at number 24 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 74,000 copies in its first week.[59][60] The album ultimately peaked at number 18 on the chart.[61] On the top r&b/hip hop albums chart the album reached its peak at number 3 on July 2nd, 1994 [62] It sold three million copies in the United States and 6 million copies worldwide.[24][63] [64] In Canada, the album debuted at number 29,[65] peaked at number 20[66] and spent 25 weeks at the chart,[67] selling over 50,000 copies and was certified gold by the CRIA.[68] It also peaked at number 44 on the Dutch Albums Chart;[69] it peaked at number 23 on the UK Albums Chart, where it was certified Gold by the BPI.[70][71]

Track listing[edit]

All songs were written and produced by R. Kelly, except for "At Your Best (You Are Love)", written by Ernie Isley, Marvin Isley, O'Kelly Isley, Jr., Ronald Isley and Chris Jasper.

Standard edition
No. Title Length
1. "Intro" 1:30
2. "Throw Your Hands Up" 3:34
3. "Back & Forth" 3:51
4. "Age Ain't Nothing but a Number" 4:13
5. "Down with the Clique" 3:24
6. "At Your Best (You Are Love)" 4:51
7. "No One Knows How to Love Me Quite Like You Do" 4:07
8. "I'm So into You" 3:25
9. "Street Thing" 4:58
10. "Young Nation" 4:40
11. "Old School" 3:17
12. "I'm Down" 3:16
Bonus tracks[72]
No. Title Length
13. "The Thing I Like" 3:28
14. "Back & Forth" (Mr. Lee & R. Kelly's Remix) 3:45

Personnel[edit]

Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.[73]

  • Aaliyah-vocals
  • Timmy Allen-Bass
  • Lafayette Carthon-Keyboards
  • Tom Coyne-Mastering
  • Stephanie Edwards-Vocals (Background)
  • Barry Hankerson-Executive Producer
  • Gladys Haughton-Tributee
  • Tia Hawkins-Rap,Vocals
  • Keith Henderson-Guitar
  • Stephanie Huff-Vocals (Background)
  • Ernie Isley-Composer
  • Marvin Isley-Composer
  • O'Kelly Isley-Composer
  • Ronald Isley-Composer
  • Chris Jasper-Composer
  • Joanne Kelly-Tributee
  • R. Kelly-Composer, Guest Artist, Instrumentation, Mixing, Producer, Rap, Vocals (Background)
  • Nate Manela-Tributee
  • Doug McBride-Mixing Assistant
  • Mr. Lee-Mixing
  • Peter Mokran-Engineer, Mixing, Programming
  • Joshua Shapera-Mixing Assistant
  • Stefon Taylor-Mixing Assistant
  • Maria Valencia-Design

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[82] Gold 50,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[83] Gold 120,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[84] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[85] 2× Platinum 3,000,000[63]
Worldwide 6,000,000+[64]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

References[edit]

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Bibliography[edit]