Aaliyah’s Uncle, Barry Hankerson Says He Didn’t Want To Delay Her Music + Addresses Her History W/ R. Kelly: I Couldn’t Kill Anybody So I Let God Handle Him

Aaliyah’s Uncle, Barry Hankerson Says He Didn’t Want To Delay Her Music + Addresses Her History W/ R. Kelly: I Couldn’t Kill Anybody So I Let God Handle Him

The late singer Aaliyah, has been making headlines lately due to the release of her music on streaming platforms and the 20th anniversary of her passing.


In the middle of it all, is her uncle, Barry Hankerson, the owner of the late singer’s former label Blackground Records.

During an interview with The Rickey Smiley Show,  he addressed the delay in Aaliyah’s music being available on streaming platforms and said,

“To be honest I had never decided for it not to be out.” 

Barry Hankerson went on to explain how streaming services have impacted artists and small labels like his own, stating that pulling back the music was a way to survive. He said,

“It’s my belief that music is one of the few natural resources that black people have to generate any type of revenue. Over the years, which I’ve been in the music business for a long time, I’ve watched the other folks, the Warner Bros. kind of folks, constantly try to create ways of getting our music. Either with tricky contracts, distribution deals that didn’t work out for the black artist or the black entrepreneur, and it just got worse and worse. So we pulled our music back.” 

Barry Hankerson added,

“So one way was to obviously create a demand but we had no idea that pulling our music back would create such a demand that the systems were willing to do deals that were much better for us than it would have normally been.” 

The music pioneer also shared that he suffered an almost fatal stroke while working out, which added to the delay of the singer’s music release.

He also opened up about his niece, and how emotional he becomes we talking about her. He said,

“She was so sweet, so considerate, and she loved to sing! She had a song called ‘My Funny Valentine’ she used to sing at the drop of the hat. And if you even mention funny she said, ‘I got a song with funny in it.'” 

On her talent and personality, he said,

“She was just talented and focus and had a great personality and made you feel better about whatever you had going on in your life that day. If it wasn’t something great, if you talked to Aaliyah you felt better, cause she was on a mission. And I was so happy that I got a chance to work with her.” 

Barry said he was very upset when he heard what Aaliyah went through with R. Kelly who was also signed to Blackground Records at the time.

R. Kelly is currently on trial for sex trafficking and other related crimes. He’s accused of marrying Aaliyah in 1994, when she was 15 and he was 27, after allegedly learning that she was pregnant.

R. Kelly, Aaliyah

When discussing the Step In The Name Of Love singer he said,

“I had to really consider what my actions would be and I found out that I was not a hardcore criminal because I couldn’t kill nobody. So I took it to Minster Farrakhan, prayed about it, and decided to let God handle him.”  

He added,

“I just put a wall up to that. It’s just too emotional for me. It just brings back too many bad thoughts for my whole family. He impacted my whole family. It’s just a bad thing.” 

Blackground Records was also home to artists like JoJo, Tank, and Timbaland, whose albums will also be available soon on streaming services.




Hankerson is gearing up for Blackground Records 2.0, which will release the singles of two new artists and reportedly a posthumous album featuring Aaliyah. 

What are your thoughts on what Barry Hankerson had to say? Tell us in the comments. 

Authored by: Ellori Nicole