Don't worry, Timbaland approves of Normani's Aaliyah-sampling new single

Wild Side, which also features Cardi B, samples Aaliyah's 1996 hit One In A Million.

by George Griffiths
18 July 2021, 1:53pm

Images courtesy of Normani/Keep Cool/RCA/Getty

Normani is back, in case you haven’t heard and this time she’s got the greats on her side.

Her demure comeback single “Wild Side” features Cardi B and acts as something of a curveball from the pure pop confection of 2019’s “Motivation,” and now carries the seal of approval from Timbaland too.

This is something of a relief, since “Wild Side” (via Genius) contains a sample of Aaliyah’s 1996 hit “One In A Million”, itself produced by Timbaland and co-written with Missy Elliott. The track’s luxurious music video also has a heap of Aaliyah references toom with Normani performing choreography and wearing outfits that seem to both reference “One In A Million” and other Aaliyah moments like “Try Again” and “More Than A Woman.”

The two artists have proved to be strong gatekeepers for Aaliyah’s legacy in the two decades since her death, refusing at several points to work on any posthumous releases featuring the late singer’s vocals and continuing to keep Aaliyah’s presence felt on social media, despite the fact that most of her work is not available to either stream or download.

But one thing is certain and that is that Timbaland is most certainly vibing to the influences Normani checks on “Wild Side.”

Originally streaming live on an Instagram Story, the iconic producer can be seen nodding his head, clicking his teeth and even beatboxing along to “Wild Side’s” beat, thoroughly earning his stamp of approval.

“Ooh! Normani, I’m moving with this one,” he said. “Thank you. Come on girl.”

We have to agree. Get it, girl.

Normani herself reacted to the video, quote-tweeting that she “must’ve died when I seen this.” Legends just supporting legends. As you were!

Aaliyah’s work with Timbo and Missy remains some of the most memorable and influential modern R&B cuts. Their work on 1996’s One In A Million and 2001’s landmark Aaliyah has served to directly influence countless acts today, from Beyoncé, to Frank Ocean, H.E.R and, of course, Normani.

It’s especially nice to see given that 2021 sees 20 years since the release of Aaliyah, but also 20 years since the iconic singer’s tragic death in a plane crash.

The fact remains that Aaliyah’s work with Timbaland set the precedent for R&B, hip-hop and most pop records to flourish in the years since her death. Although her cultural cachet may have diminished due to no streaming presence to really speak of, the work artists like Normani are doing not only pays homage to Aaliyah’s great talent, but helps us to also see the wider picture of her artistry and what she helped pass along to the new generation. Timbaland, of course, recognises that. There will never be another Aaliyah, but drops like this prove there doesn’t have to be - her spirit is everywhere.