Cassius Life Featured Video
Singer Aaliyah poses backstage at Madison Square Garden in 1995.

16-year-old Aaliyah poses backstage at Madison Square Garden in 1995. Source: Catherine McGann / Getty

Aaliyah Dana Haughton would have been celebrating her 42nd birthday today, if not for her tragic passing in a 2001 plane crash.

The singer had already accomplished so much by the time of her death — at 22 years old she had two platinum albums, several movie credits, had just released her third studio album that would go on to spawn multiple hits, and most importantly, she influenced the genre of R&B in a way very few have and probably ever will.

Nearly 20 years after her death, fans are still keeping her legacy alive and creatives continue to sample and reference her work in their own.

On the ninth anniversary of Aaliyah’s death, Drake penned a letter to the R&B legend, expressing his love for her and all that she was.

“Dear Dana,” he wrote in a 2010 open letter for Rap Radar, using her middle name. “I’ve never lost a parent, a friend, or a lover but I will never forget this day for the rest of my life. I remember getting the news that you had passed and it connected with my heart like a clean shot from Muhammad Ali. I was crushed. Not only was I one of your biggest fans but I was truly in love with you. I loved the way you carried yourself, the way you dressed, the confidence with which you addressed passion and relationships in your music. I said to myself that even if we never met, I wanted a woman in my life just like you. I am pained that we will never get to connect now that music ended up being my career path. But you should know, we all listen to you everyday and we remain inspired and moved by all that you’ve given the world. I hope I make the right life choices so I can end up in heaven where I know you rest your head. I’ll continue to make music in your honor until the day we finally meet. Dinner’s on me! Love you always and forever, Drake.”

Drizzy said it best — and with that, we’d like to wish Baby Girl a happy heavenly birthday! Check out more rare photos below. Rest in peace, Aaliyah!

1. Baby Aaliyah.

2. 16-year-old Aaliyah backstage at Madison Square Garden.

Aaliyah Source:Getty

3. At the 11th Soul Train Music Awards in ’97.

11th Soul Train Music Awards Source:Getty

4. Spotted at the Fifth Annual Race to Erase MS with Gwen Stefani, Kidada and Rashida Jones, and China Chow.

The Fifth Annual Race to Erase MS Source:Getty

5. All smiles at the premiere of ‘Anastasia’ in L.A.

Aaliyah Attends Premiere Of Anastasia In Los Angeles CA Source:Getty

6. Spotted at the premiere of ‘Mercury Rising’ in L.A.


7. Baby girl wins Best Female Video for “Try Again” at the 2000 MTV Awards.

Celebrities at MTV Awards Source:Getty

8. So beautiful.

Singer Aaliyah is on hand at a lingerie show at the fourth a Source:Getty

9. In attendance for ‘Me, Myself & Irene’ in 2000.

Celebs Attend Premiere of "Me, Myself & Irene" Source:Getty

10. Aaliyah and Missy Elliott, happy as ever, at the 12th Annual Soul Train Music Awards.

The 12th Annual Soul Train Music Awards Source:Getty

11. Spotted at Diddy’s 2000 Fourth of July Party.

Puff Daddy's Fourth of July Party Source:Getty

12. The sweetest.

Photo of AALIYAH and Damon DASH Source:Getty

13. All laughs at the ‘Planet of the Apes’ New York premiere.

"Planet of the Apes " New York Premiere Source:Getty

14. Holding hands and arriving at the Paris Theatre in NYC.

Singer Aaliyah and music producer Damon Dash arrive at the P Source:Getty

15. Jay-Z, Aaliyah, Bijou Phillips and Kidada Jones at a Tommy Hilfiger Party in L.A.

Tommy Hilfiger Party Source:Getty

16. Best Friends Forever.

17. Killing the red carpet with Beyoncé.

18. You’ve got to love ’em.

19. Rest in peace, Aaliyah. We love you!