The title of Aaliyah’s platinum ’94 first album, Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number, suggested the arrival of an ingenue who was 15-going-on-twice-that. But all she did to back it up was coo blankly and strike a street-tough cover pose. Now, Aaliyah’s mom and dad must be reeling from hearing their 17-year-old smolder so convincingly on “If Your Girl Only Knew,” the hot first single.
At least she’s keeping good company. While R. Kelly produced Aaliyah’s debut with a one-dimensional musical vision, One in a Million’s production posse (which includes Jermaine Dupri and Timbaland) dips into a languid and seductive trip hop on the title track; then stutters jungle rhythm on “Beats 4 da Streets” and “Heartbroken.” The young star delivers one subtle, sensuous performance after another. In an R&B world overloaded with teen queens, it’s nice to see Aaliyah living up to both her album titles. (Black-ground/ Atlantic)