“Are You That Somebody?” by Aaliyah (ft. Timbaland)

Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody?” is centered on the concept of the singer desiring a down-low relationship with the addressee. That is to say that she does in fact want to hook up with him. However, apparently due to her celebrity, she does not want their relationship to be public knowledge. 

Meanwhile Timbaland’s inclusions doesn’t necessarily stick to this narrative but rather play the role of hyping himself, Aaliyah and the “Dirty South” up – with himself being from Virginia. 

And conclusively, Aaliyah wants to initiate the aforementioned romance as she does in fact “need somebody”, but said person must be discreet.

Did Aaliyah write “Are You That Somebody”?

Timbaland is not only a feature but also the song’s producer and co-writer. And the other co-writer would be Static Major, who also provided backup vocals. Aaliyah contributed no writing to “Are You That Somebody”.

The song was recorded and mixed in a single session, which Aaliyah, Timbaland and co. laid down one early morning.

Release Date

This track was released on 16 June 1998 by Atlantic Records. It served as the lead single from the soundtrack to the Eddie Murphy movie which came out that same year entitled “Dr. Dolittle”.

Success, Success, Success!

“Are You That Somebody?” proved to be one Aaliyah’s – and one can even say Timbaland’s – big hits. Actually the song, was instrumental in putting them on the map. And it was not only the track but also its entertaining music video. Said clip had Mark Gerard as its director and Fatima Robinson – who worked on quite a few Aaliyah videos – in charge of choreography. And it went on to be nominated for multiple MTV Video Music Awards.

And the song itself was nominated for a plethora of awards including a Grammy. Other notable award nominations include:

  • MTV Movie Award
  • NAACP Image Award

Moreover it topped Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay and Rhythmic charts. In addition to this, the song flew to #1 in New Zealand.

Additionally it peaked at number 21 on the Hot 100 and number 11 in Britain. And in all, it charted in 10 nations, ultimately being certified Gold in the Netherlands and New Zealand.

In 2019, Rolling Stone placed “Are You That Somebody?” on their list of the “50 Best Songs of the Nineties”. And the track has been recognized in similar regards by the likes of BlenderThe Village Voice and Slant Magazine.

Sample

Timbaland, who worked with Aaliyah extensively, commonly referred to her as “Baby Girl”. And such supposedly rationalized the baby sounds which are sampled into “Are You That Somebody”.

Said sample is actually dated back to a 1964 track by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jac Holzman entitled “Happy Baby”. And extensive effort has been put into actually identifying who that baby is. However, as of 2016 such attempts have proven unsuccessful.

What Grammy Award was “Are You That Somebody?” nominated for?

It was nominated in the Best Female R&B Vocal Performance” category at the 1999 Grammys. It however, couldn’t win the award. Lauryn Hill’s “Doo Wop (That Thing)” ended up clinching said award.

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