Me and Aaliyah met at a Tommy Hilfiger fashion show that I styled in about ’93. She had really small feet and so did I and she didn’t have shoes for the show so I remember loaning her my shoes. Then we met again on the Tommy Hilfiger photo shoot when we were both in the ad.
You know when the dogs are at the dog park and they run up to each other and their tails wag and they smell each other? It was just easy. As soon as we met we just started talking and that was it. We were like four or five years apart. We were into fashion, music, boys, pop culture. Sense of humor, that’s what I would say was our common ground. We used to do prank call after prank call. Once we pranked my dad [Quincy Jones] and she acted like she was Christina Aguilera. She was asking my dad to do something on her record and she was just singing, and he totally believed it was her. When he was like, What number can I call you back at? she gave him my home number. He still didn’t realize that it was us! I called him right after and he goes, Christina Aguilera just called me, but then he looked up the number and he figured it out.
Her mom allowed me to be her guardian for a little bit. I was a few years older so when she went to Europe, I was the guardian—which was a complete and total nightmare. I’ll keep it mild, but it was just young fun and maybe I didn’t really understand the boundaries. We got in trouble quite a few times, but she was the funnest friend. A lot of friends have quarrels, and maybe we had a couple disagreements, but our friendship was based on going out and having a great time. We ate breakfast late at night. We got our nails done a lot. We shopped a lot—when no one even knew what Kitson was, we would be there all the time. We spent a lot of time getting matching outfits and clothes. We had boyfriends at the same time, so we would get them the same presents. We even vacationed together, we went to Fiji.
We did a lot of making up dances. We had one to “Too Close” by Next—that was our JAM! When we would go to the club we would dance together like those two girls in House Party. We did it all the time! Every time we got to a dancing place we’d end up doing the House Party dance. Right in the middle of the party! I mean, we didn’t even care! People just thought we were stupid.
I think about her all the time. She was so sweet. She just left like a sweet coating over everything. Anytime she’s brought up or her music comes on the radio, it’s sweet, but it definitely sounds like she found a niche before it was here. If you listen to her music it’s so relevant today, but we had it so long ago.
There was an edgier side to her that people didn’t know. She was more forward thinking than most people. Deeper. She was fine spending time alone. She was a thinker. A little risky in fashion, she was trendsetting. We were in the process of starting a girl’s clothing line, it was called Dolly Pop. Right when she passed we were getting ready to sign our contracts for that. We were making plans for this brand that was gonna be girly and cute and have Japanese inspiration. This was seven or eight years ago, so the whole Japanese inspiration wasn’t at the forefront.
Her instinct was definitely forward and a little brave. She was a risk-taker. She absolutely pioneered the whole falsetto over a heartbeat, and the whole feminine-meets-tomboy mysterious dance routine. That’s her. She very much paved that way for girls. And then you see those girls go from girl to woman. From her first video to her last video, you see Aaliyah go from teenage girl to woman. She evolved at a really nice pace.
Kidada Jones was Aaliyah’s best friend. She is an actress, model, and jewelry and fashion designer.
I knew her as an artist first; I mean I always liked her music, her dancing and whatever. Then when I met her we just kinda hit it off. It was like we had the same rhythm, the same ambition. She was taking over, like just into everything. She was already a fashion icon, she was getting into movies, she had already planted that seed. If she was alive today she would be so relevant. I see little bits of her everywhere I look, in a lot of artists.
The thing with Aaliyah is that everybody liked her. I mean, people who didn’t like anybody liked her. Didn’t just like her, were obsessed with her. She was just super-cool. She had this certain swagger about her. Her coolness was just innate, it was in everything she did. It was like trying without trying, you know what I mean? She wasn’t exactly dark, but she was into sphinxes and all those Egyptian things. She was adventurous.
For somebody to be so sweet and still be so fearless, that’s not something people are used to, I guess.There was nobody pulling her strings, it was all her. The vision, the style was all her. She really wanted it. She died working, you know? She didn’t die playing around.
Damon Dash was Aaliyah’s boyfriend at the time of her death. He is a film producer, entrepreneur and the co-founder of Roc-a-Fella Records.