One in a Million (Aaliyah album)

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One in a Million
Studio album by Aaliyah
Released August 27, 1996 (1996-08-27)
Recorded August 1995–July 1996[1]
Length 73:18
Label Blackground, Atlantic
Producer Timbaland, Missy Elliott, Carl-So-Lowe, J. Dibbs, Jermaine Dupri, Kay Gee, Vincent Herbert, Rodney Jerkins, Craig King, Darren Lighty, Darryl Simmons
Aaliyah chronology
Age Ain't Nothing but a Number
(1994)Age Ain't Nothing but a Number1994
One in a Million
Singles from One in a Million
  1. "If Your Girl Only Knew"
    Released: August 13, 1996
  2. "One in a Million"
    Released: December 10, 1996
  3. "Got to Give It Up"
    Released: January 27, 1997
  4. "4 Page Letter"
    Released: March 11, 1997
  5. "Hot Like Fire"
    Released: September 16, 1997
  6. "The One I Gave My Heart To"
    Released: September 16, 1997

One in a Million is the second studio album by American R&B recording artist Aaliyah, first released on August 27, 1996 by Blackground Records and Atlantic Records. The album was recorded from August 1995 to July 1996 with a variety of producers including Timbaland, Missy Elliott, Carl-So-Lowe, J. Dibbs, Jermaine Dupri, Kay Gee, Vincent Herbert, Rodney Jerkins, Craig King, Darren Lighty, and Darryl Simmons. The album featured several guest vocalists, including Missy Elliott, Timbaland, Treach, and Slick Rick.

One in a Million was well received by most critics, including Rolling Stone, who named it the 90th best album of the 1990s. It was also listed as one of 33 hip hop/R&B albums in Rolling Stone's "Essential Recordings of the '90s".[3] One in a Million debuted at twenty on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 40,500 copies in its opening week; twenty-two weeks later the album peaked at eighteen, being certified Gold by RIAA. Within a few months, the album proved Aaliyah's breakthrough and a major milestone in the careers of Missy Elliott and Timbaland. It was certified double Platinum on June 16, 1997.[4] The album was also certified Gold by the Canadian recording industry for shipments of 50,000 copies. One in a Million has sold over three million copies in the United States and 8 million copies worldwide.[5][6]

The album produced six singles, "If Your Girl Only Knew", "One in a Million", "Got to Give It Up", "4 Page Letter", "Hot Like Fire", and "The One I Gave My Heart To", with the last becoming the album's highest-charting single, peaking at nine on the US Billboard Hot 100. In 2004, the album was re-released in Germany with altered artwork, and again in 2006, It included the standard 17 tracks, plus the bonus song "Come Over".

Background and production[edit]

At age 12, Aaliyah was signed to Jive Records and Blackground Records by her uncle, Barry Hankerson.[7][8] He introduced her to R. Kelly, who became her mentor, as well as lead songwriter and producer for her debut album Age Ain't Nothing but a Number. Her debut album sold three million copies in the United States and was certified double Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).[9][10]After facing allegations of an illegal marriage with Kelly, Aaliyah ended her contract with Jive and signed to Atlantic Records.[11] With a new distributing deal with atlantic records and a new team of producers One In A Million was going to reestablish Aaliyah's fan base and broaden her mainstream appeal.[12] The album featured a wide range of producers unlike her debut album which was produced solely by R.Kelly.[13] Atlantic Records chairman Craig Kallman mentioned that once Aaliyah was signed to Atlantic they discussed that it was important to find innovative producers who wasn't dominating the music charts at that particular time to produce the album.[14] The overall goal was to find Aaliyah her own new sound which would define her as an artist.[15] Eventually Kallman started meeting with multiple unknown songwriters and producers and one producer by the name of timbaland stuck out to him the most.[16] Kallman mentioned that "I really just started meeting with tons and tons of new songwriters and producers, just looking for someone creative that had their own spin on things. And one day, this young kid came in. His name was Tim Moseley. He started playing me beats and it was a really obvious meeting of, ‘This doesn’t sound like anything that’s out there and really had its own super exciting and electric, just dynamic properties."[17] Kallman eventually contacted Aaliyah and told her about Timbaland and when they met for the first time they hit it off immediately.[18] "I called up Aaliyah, and I said, ‘You need to meet this guy. His name’s Timbaland, and he’s new. He’s out of the Devonte [Swing] camp. I said I think this could be your muse to really create something special. And they hit it off".[19] While speaking to Billboard about the development of the album Atlantic product development director Eddie Santiago mentioned "We wanted Aaliyah to keep growing, so we didn't want to have the same suspects on her new project".[20] With this album Aaliyah was more involved with crafting the album by taking co-writing credits and assisting in the creative direction of the project.[21]In a interview with Billboard Aaliyah stated "I wanted to maintain my smooth street musical image but wanted to be funky and hot yet sophisticated".[22] One in a Million was recorded from August 1995 to July 1996 and the album was executive produced by Barry Hankerson and Jomo Hankerson, while Missy Elliott and Timbaland wrote and produced the majority of the album. Other producers involved in the album includes Rodney Jerkins, Jermaine Dupri, Daryl Simmons, Vincent Herbert and Kay Gee from Naughty by Nature. One In a million has two remake covers, Choosy lover By the Isley brothers and got to give it up by marvin gaye which features slick rick.[23] If your girl only knew served as the lead single and it was described by Eddie Santiago Atlantic records product development director as "a very funky mid-tempo track with lots of heavy keyboard and organ work along with live drums and a thumping bass line".[24] The single was produced by then new comer Timabaland and promotional copies were serviced to r&b and cross over stations on July 12th.[25]


In an effort to generate visual awareness for Aaliyah the label began to run advertisements for the album on June 24th-July 8th on cable channels such as BET and The Box (U.S. TV channel).[26] Immediately after the lead single was released the label went on a heavy print ad campaign featuring Aaliyah in publications such as Seventeen, The Source and other media publications.[27] Due to Aaliyah's outstanding Academic performance in school the label planned to run ads in the magazine "React" an educational teen publication inserted in various daily and weekly papers across the country.[28] Since Aaliyah was an advoate for breast cancer screenings and champions the plight of Alzheimer's disease the label planned for her to do a series of PSA's on those issues.[29] In Support of the album a International promotional tour was planned in which she would tour late in the summer/early fall in the United States and towards the end of September she would tour internationally in places such as the UK, Germany, South Africa and Japan.[30]


"If Your Girl Only Knew" was released as the album's lead single in August 1996, it peaked at number 11 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for the week ending October 19, 1996,[31] becoming her third single to reach the top 20. It reached the top of the Billboard Hot R&B Singles chart for two weeks. "If Your Girl Only Knew" was also a hit in the UK, peaking in the top thirty of the UK Singles Chart at number 21 when it was originally released by itself. It was re-issued with "One in a Million" as a double A-side and reached a new peak position of number 15. The album's second single "One in a Million" was released December 10, 1996, the song was a top twenty hit in the UK, reaching number fifteen. "4 Page Letter" was released as the album third single on March 11, 1997. "Hot Like Fire and "The One I Gave My Heart To" were released simultaneously on September 16, 1997. Hot Like Fire charted poorly unlike "The One I Gave My Heart To" which debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 in the issue week of October 4, 1997 at number 24 and went on to peak at number 9,[32] making it the highest-charting single from the album. In the same issue week, the song debuted on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at number 18 and went on to peak at number 7.[33] The song was certified Gold by the RIAA on October 21, 1997.[34]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4.5/5 stars[35]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music 3/5 stars[36]
Los Angeles Times 3.5/4 stars[37]
Q 3/5 stars[38]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide 3.5/5 stars[39]
Slant Magazine 3.5/5 stars[40]
Sputnikmusic 3/5[41]
The Village Voice (choice cut)[42]

In her review for Vibe magazine, music critic Dream Hampton said that Aaliyah's "deliciously feline" voice has the same "pop appeal" as Janet Jackson's and is complemented by the producers' funky, coherent tracks.[43] Connie Johnson of the Los Angeles Times found the album's material exceptional, including the "teasingly witchy" "If Your Girl Only Knew".[44] Q magazine said that, with "her smooth, sweetly seductive vocal firmly to the fore, [Aaliyah] works through a set of predominantly slow and steamy swingbeat numbers, all clipped beats, luxurious melodies and dreamy harmonies".[45] Robert Christgau, writing in The Village Voice, was less enthusiastic and cited only "Got to Give It Up" as a "choice cut",[42] indicating "a good song on an album that isn't worth your time or money".[46] Sputnikmusic's Nick Butler deemed it a "strange" record with an overemphasis on "unusually good" and "occasionally brilliant" ballads but plagued by upbeat tracks that were not on-par, except "Hot Like Fire".[41] People felt that the album offered more variety in content as opposed to Aaliyah's debut album, saying: "At least she's keeping good company. While R. Kelly produced Aaliyah's debut with a one-dimensional musical vision, One in a Million's production posse (which includes Jermaine Dupri and Timbaland) dips into a languid and seductive trip hop on the title track; then stutters jungle rhythm on 'Beats 4 da Streets' and 'Heartbroken.'"[47]

In a retrospective review, Slant Magazine said One in a Million was "undoubtedly one of the most influential R&B albums of the '90s," and credited it for establishing "Aaliyah and the Timbo family as undeniable hip-hop forces."[40] Allmusic viewed it as a significant improvement over her debut album with "greater variety of material" and producers, and called Aaliyah's voice "smoother, more seductive, and stronger than before".[35] The album was ranked number 90 on Rolling Stone's 100 greatest albums of the 90s. It was also listed as one of 33 Hip hop/R&B albums in Rolling Stone's "Essential Recordings of the 90s".[3]

Commercial performance[edit]

It was an international success for the Contemporary R&B genre, with worldwide sales being 8 million copies as of 2008.[6][48] The album debuted at number 20 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 40,500 copies in its first week.[49] In the Christmas week of 1996 the album peaked at number 18 selling 71,000 copies.[50] The album was certified Gold by the RIAA on October 23, 1996; over 500,000 copies shipments. On February 5, 1997, the album was certified Platinum for shipments of over 1,000,000 units; making it, at the time, her second platinum album. On June 16, 1997, the album was certified 2× Platinum, with more than 2 million copies shipments. It sold an additional 1.1 million copies in 1997.[51] After Aaliyah's death, One in a Million returned to the Billboard 200, and US. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. During this time the album also topped the Top Catalog Albums for 12 weeks. One in a Million has sold 3 million copies in the US[52] and an extra 756,000 units through BMG Music club, Nielsen SoundScan does not count albums sold through clubs like the BMG Music Service, which were significantly popular in the 1990s.[53]

Track listing[edit]

Standard edition
No. Title Writer(s) Producer Length
1. "Beats 4 da Streets (Intro)" (featuring Missy Elliott)
  • Elliott
  • Timbaland
Timbaland 2:10
2. "Hot Like Fire"
  • Elliott
  • Timbaland
Timbaland 4:23
3. "One in a Million"
  • Elliott
  • Timbaland
Timbaland 4:30
4. "A Girl Like You" (featuring Treach)
  • Kay-Gee
  • Darren Lighty
  • Kay-Gee
  • Lighty
5. "If Your Girl Only Knew"
  • Elliott
  • Timbaland
Timbaland 4:50
6. "Choosey Lover (Old School/New School)" 7:07
7. "Got to Give It Up" (featuring Slick Rick) Marvin Gaye
  • Herbert
  • Craig King
8. "4 Page Letter"
  • Elliott
  • Timbaland
Timbaland 4:52
9. "Everything's Gonna Be Alright"
Jerkins 4:50
10. "Giving You More" J. Dibbs J. Dibbs 4:26
11. "I Gotcha' Back"
  • Dupri
  • Carl-So-Lowe
12. "Never Givin' Up" (featuring Tavarius Polk)
  • Monica Bell
  • King
  • Herbert
  • King
13. "Heartbroken"
  • Elliott
  • Timbaland
Timbaland 4:17
14. "Never Comin' Back"
  • Elliott
  • Timbaland
Timbaland 4:06
15. "Ladies in da House" (featuring Missy Elliott & Timbaland)
  • Elliott
  • Timbaland
Timbaland 4:20
16. "The One I Gave My Heart To" Diane Warren Daryl Simmons 4:30
17. "Came to Give Love (Outro)" (featuring Timbaland)   Timbaland 1:40
Notes and sample credits

^[a] denotes additional producer



Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Canada (Music Canada)[65] Gold 50,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[66] Gold 160,000[67]
United Kingdom (BPI)[68] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[69] 2× Platinum 3,756,000[*]

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

  • ^ * The album has sold 3 million copies in the US according to Nielsen SoundScan,[52] which does not count albums sold through clubs like the BMG Music, where she sold 756,000.[53] Combined, it has sold over 3,756,000 copies in the US.



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External links[edit]