One in a Million is Aaliyah's second studio album that was released on August 27, 1996 by Blackground Records & Atlantic Records.
- Beats 4 Da Streets (Intro) 2:10
- Hot Like Fire 4:23
- One In A Million 4:30
- A Girl Like You 4:22
- If Your Girl Only Knew 4:51
- Choosey Lover (Old School/New School) 7:07
- Got To Give It Up 4:41
- 4 Page Letter 4:52
- Everything's Gonna Be Alright 4:49
- Giving You More 4:25
- I Gotcha' Back 2:53
- Never Givin' Up 5:11
- Heartbroken 4:19
- Never Comin' Back 4:06
- Ladies In Da House 4:20
- The One I Gave My Heart To 4:30
- Came To Give Love (Outro) 1:40
After Aaliyah's uncle, Barry Hankerson obtained a distribution deal with Jive Records, he signed Aaliyah to his Blackground Records label when she was 12 years old and introduced her to R. Kelly (who became her mentor as well as the lead songwriter & producer for her debut album).
Aaliyah's debut album, "Age Ain't Nothing But a Number" was certified double Platinum by the RIAA and sold three million copies in the United States and six million copies worldwide.
For promotion of the album, Aaliyah embarked on a world tour that lasted from 1994 to 1995, she toured throughout the US, Europe, Japan and South Africa. After facing allegations of an illegal marriage with Kelly, she ended her contract with Jive Records and signed with Atlantic Records.
According to Aaliyah's cousin and Blackground Records executive Jomo Hankerson, the music industry “villainized” Aaliyah for her scandal with R.Kelly and that it was hard to get producers for the album.
In an interview, Hankerson said: “We were coming off of a multi-platinum debut album and except for a couple of relationships with Jermaine Dupri and Puffy, it was hard for us to get producers on the album.”
Aaliyah commented on the R.Kelly scandal, saying: "I faced the adversity, I could’ve broken down, I could’ve gone and hid in the closet and said, ‘I’m not going to do this anymore.’ But I love singing, and I wasn't going to let that mess stop me. I got a lot of support from my fans and that inspired me to put that behind me, be a stronger person, and put my all into making One in a Million.”
Initially, the album was supposed to be helmed by Puff Daddy, but the songs that the pair worked on together never got finished. According to Aaliyah: “I went to Puff’s studio in Trinidad for a week, We started working together but we couldn’t finish the songs on time. I had to leave, because I had to go to Atlanta to record with Jermaine Dupri.”
Both Craig King and Vincent Herbert were the first set of producers who were asked to work on the album after plans to have Puff Daddy produce the album fell through. Once the two producers were on board, they were asked by Atlantic records to create a sound for the album.
According to King: "We came in right as she got her budget ready to go. Vincent [Herbert] and I were the first people she called, we were the first group. That’s why we had so much freedom to go in and create a sound because we didn’t have to do a song here or there. They wanted us to go in and build a sound. We built a sound and it was a departure from R. Kelly."
After recording songs with Craig King and Vincent Herbert Aaliyah went to Atlanta to meet with Carl-So-Lowe and Jermaine Dupri to work on songs. When she arrived to Atlanta neither of the producers had any material to present to her during that time.
In an interview Lowe mentioned: "I believe Jomo, Barry Hankerson’s son, reached out to So So Def and I think it happened from there. I knew she was coming to Atlanta, and we had nothing prepared at the time".
For the album, Aaliyah wanted to record songs that were "simplified" and "really good". She worked with Dupri and Lowe in Atlanta for about three to four days on songs.
In the midst of transitioning to a new record label Aaliyah was very anxious about the changes, according to Billboard in a press release accompanying the album, she admitted to "being a little anxious about jumping from Jive to Atlantic and changing up her sound, but that uncertainty never filters into the music."
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. The album featured a wide range of producers (unlike her debut album which was produced solely by R. Kelly).
With the release of the album, Aaliyah adapted to a more sexier image which was noticeable by the public. In a 1997 article discussing the "One in a Million" music video, MTV felt that Aaliyah was getting "all grown up and steamy in the video" and they asked her about her new sexier image.
According to Aaliyah: "As far as it being sexy, I would prefer to say sensual. Sensual is being in tune with your sensual self. Sexy, I mean that's in the eye of the beholder, such as beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So if people term it sexy, it's different. So I just think it's being sensual, I would rather term it as that."
Recording & Production
In an effort to generate visual awareness for the album, Aaliyah's record label began to run advertisements on June 24-July 8 on cable channels such as BET and The Box.
The music video for the lead single, "If Your Girl Only Knew" was serviced to both local and national video shows on July 8, 1996.
Immediately after the lead single and its accompanying video was released, the label went on a heavy print ad campaign featuring Aaliyah in publications such as Seventeen, The Source and other media publications.
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.
Since Aaliyah was an advocate 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.
In support of the album, an international promotional tour was planned in which she would tour late in the summer/early fall in the United States. Towards the end of September, Aaliyah would tour internationally in places such as the UK, Germany, South Africa and Japan.
In September 1996, Aaliyah made an appearance at MTV's sixth annual Rock N' Jock event which aired on MTV on October 26, 1996, During the event, she participated in the celebrity basketball game and performed her song "If Your Girl Only Knew" during the half time show.
On November 16, 1996 Aaliyah performed on Soul Train.
At the beginning of 1997, she made an appearance on the FOX television show New York Undercover as a musical guest; during her appearance on the show she performed "Choosey Lover" and the episode that she taped aired on January 16, 1997.
On February 17, 1997 Aaliyah performed One In A Million on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee. On February 18, 1997, she performed "One In A Million" on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.
In March of 1997, Aaliyah made an appearance at MTV's annual spring break celebration in Panama City, Florida.
During MTV Spring Break, she performed her song One in a Million and hosted a segment from the concert special called The Grind where she interviewed the Spice Girls before they performed. Also in Spring 1997 Aaliyah was planning a tour with Az Yet and Foxy Brown but no further news on that tour was ever mentioned.
In August of 1997, MTV News reported that Aaliyah was going on a nationwide tour with Dru Hill, Ginuwine, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Mary J. Blige. The tour started on August 28, 1996 in Buffalo, New York and ended on October 5, 1996 in Phoenix, Arizona.
During the month of August, Aaliyah made a televised appearance on the short lived Vibe (talk show) where she performed "Hot Like Fire" and gave the show's host a gift basket full of promo items. During that same month, she performed at KKBT's annual Summer Jam concert in Irvine, California at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre.
In the midst of touring in September 1997, Aaliyah performed her song "One in a Million" on the Nickelodeon sketch comedy show All That.
In October 1997, Aaliyah performed "The One I Gave My Heart To" at Nickelodeon's fourth annual The big help event in Santa Monica, California.
On December 10, 1997, she performed "The One I Gave My Heart To" at the UNICEF Gift of Song benefit gala which aired live on TNT. Also in December, she performed on the annual Christmas in Washington television special.
She also co headlined the B-96 B-Bash hosted by the Chicago radio station B96. During the concert, she performed multiple songs including "The One I Gave My Heart To."