One in a Million (Aaliyah album)

One in a Million is the second studio album by American singer Aaliyah. It was first released on August 27, 1996 by Blackground Records and Atlantic Records. The album was recorded from August 1995 to July 1996 with a variety of producers including Timbaland, Missy Elliott, Carl-So-Lowe, J. Dibbs, Jermaine Dupri, Kay Gee, Vincent Herbert, Rodney Jerkins, Craig King, Darren Lighty, and Darryl Simmons. The album featured several guest vocalists, including Missy Elliott, Timbaland, Treach, and Slick Rick.

One in a Million
Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 27, 1996 (1996-08-27)
RecordedAugust 1995–1996[1]
StudioVanguard Studios in Detroit, Pyramid Studios in Ithaca, New York
Aaliyah chronology
Age Ain't Nothing but a Number
One in a Million
Singles from One in a Million
  1. "If Your Girl Only Knew"
    Released: July 12, 1996
  2. "Got to Give It Up"
    Released: October 8, 1996
  3. "One in a Million"
    Released: December 10, 1996
  4. "4 Page Letter"
    Released: March 11, 1997
  5. "Hot Like Fire"
    Released: September 16, 1997
  6. "The One I Gave My Heart To"
    Released: September 16, 1997

One in a Million was well received by most critics, including Rolling Stone, who named it the 90th best album of the 1990s. It was also listed as one of 33 hip hop/R&B albums in Rolling Stone's "Essential Recordings of the '90s".[3] One in a Million debuted at twenty on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 40,500 copies in its opening week; twenty-two weeks later the album peaked at eighteen, being certified Gold by RIAA. Within a few months, the album proved Aaliyah's breakthrough and a major milestone in the careers of Missy Elliott and Timbaland. It was certified double Platinum on June 16, 1997.[4] The album was also certified Gold by Music Canada for shipments of 50,000 copies. One in a Million has sold over three million copies in the United States and 8 million copies worldwide.[5][6]

The album produced six singles, "If Your Girl Only Knew", "One in a Million", "Got to Give It Up", "4 Page Letter", "Hot Like Fire", and "The One I Gave My Heart To", with the last becoming the album's highest-charting single, peaking at nine on the US Billboard Hot 100. In 2004, the album was re-released in Germany with altered artwork, and again in 2006. It included the standard 17 tracks, plus the bonus song "Come Over".


After Barry Hankerson, Aaliyah's uncle, obtained a distribution deal with Jive Records, he signed her to his Blackground Records label at the age of 12.[7][8] He introduced her to R. Kelly, who became her mentor, as well as the lead songwriter and producer for her debut album Age Ain't Nothing but a Number. The album was certified double Platinum by the RIAA,[9] and it sold three million copies in the United States and six million copies worldwide.[10][11] For promotion of the album, Aaliyah embarked on a world tour that lasted from 1994 to 1995, she toured throughout the US, Europe, Japan and South Africa[12][13][14] After facing allegations of an illegal marriage with Kelly, Aaliyah ended her contract with Jive and signed with Atlantic Records.[15] According to Aaliyah's cousin and Blackground Records executive Jomo Hankerson, the music industry “villainized” Aaliyah for her scandal with R.Kelly and that it was hard to get producers for One in a Million.[16] In an interview Hankerson said,“ We were coming off of a multi-platinum debut album and except for a couple of relationships with Jermaine Dupri and Puffy, it was hard for us to get producers on the album.”[16] Aaliyah commented on the R.Kelly situation saying, "I faced the adversity, I could’ve broken down, I could’ve gone and hid in the closet and said, ‘I’m not going to do this anymore.’ But I love singing, and I wasn't going to let that mess stop me. I got a lot of support from my fans and that inspired me to put that behind me, be a stronger person, and put my all into making One in a Million.”[17]

Initially, Puff Daddy was to helm One in a Million, but the songs that the pair collaborated on were never finished. According to Aaliyah “I went to Puff’s studio in Trinidad for a week, we started working together but we couldn’t finish the songs on time. I had to leave, because I had to go to Atlanta to record with Jermaine Dupri.”[17] Both Craig King and Vincent Herbert were the first set of producers who were asked to work on the album after plans to have Puff Daddy produce the album fell through. Once the two producers were on board they were asked by Atlantic records to create the initial sound for the album. According to King "We came in right as she got her budget ready to go. Vincent [Herbert] and I were the first people she called, we were the first group. That’s why we had so much freedom to go in and create a sound because we didn’t have to do a song here or there. They wanted us to go in and build a sound. We built a sound and it was a departure from R. Kelly."[18] After recording songs with Craig King and Vincent Herbert Aaliyah then went to Atlanta to meet with Carl-So-Lowe and Jermaine Dupri to work on songs. When she arrived to Atlanta neither of the producers had any material to present to her during that time. In an interview Lowe mentioned " I believe Jomo, Barry Hankerson’s son, reached out to So So Def and I think it happened from there. I knew she was coming to Atlanta, and we had nothing prepared at the time". For the album Aaliyah wanted to record songs that were "simplified" and "really good" and she worked with Dupri and Lowe in Atlanta for about three to four days on songs.[18]

In the midst of transitioning to a new record label Aaliyah was very anxious about all of new the changes that was happening, according to Billboard "in a press release accompanying the album, she admitted to being a little anxious about jumping from Jive to Atlantic and changing up her sound, but that uncertainty never filters into the music".[16] With a new distributing deal with Atlantic records and a new team of producers One In A Million was going to reestablish Aaliyah's fan base and broaden her mainstream appeal.[19] The album featured a wide range of producers unlike her debut album which was produced solely by R.Kelly.[19] With the release of the album Aaliyah adapted to a more sexier image which was noticeable by the public.[20] In an 1997 article discussing the "One in a Million" music video MTV staff felt that Aaliyah was getting "all grown up and steamy in the video" and they asked her about her new sexier image.[20] Aaliyah responded saying, "as far as it being sexy, I would prefer to say sensual. Sensual is being in tune with your sensual self. Sexy, I mean that's in the eye of the beholder, such as beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So if people term it sexy, it's different. So I just think it's being sensual, I would rather term it as that."[20]

Recording and productionEdit

For producing the album, Aaliyah collaborated with Timbaland and Missy Elliott.

One in a Million was recorded from August 1995 through 1996[1] with Craig Kallman, Barry Hankerson and Jomo Hankerson serving as the album's executive producers. Other producers that were involved in crafting the album include Rodney Jerkins, Jermaine Dupri, Daryl Simmons, Vincent Herbert, Craig King, Carl-So-Low, Kay Gee from Naughty by Nature, Missy Elliott and Timbaland who both wrote and produced majority of the album's material. "If Your Girl Only Knew" served as the album's lead single and it was described by Atlantic Records product-development director Eddie Santiago as "a very funky mid-tempo track with lots of heavy keyboard and organ work along with live drums and a thumping bass line".[19] The single was produced by then newcomer Timbaland and promotional copies of the single was serviced to R&B and cross over stations on July 12.[19] While speaking with Billboard about the development of the album Eddie Santiago mentioned "We wanted Aaliyah to keep growing, so we didn't want to have the same suspects on her new project".[19] In that very same interview with Billboard Aaliyah discussed the direction of the album by saying, "I wanted to maintain my smooth street musical image but wanted to be funky and hot yet sophisticated".[19] With this album Aaliyah was more involved with crafting the album's material by taking co-writing credits and assisting in the creative direction of the project.[19] An example of her crafting material for the album is with the song "No Days Go By", on that song Aaliyah was involved with the vocal arrangement.[18] The album has two remake covers, "Choosy Lover" by the Isley Brothers and "Got To Give It Up" by Marvin Gaye, which features Slick Rick.[19] Aaliyah decided to cover "Got To Give It Up" because she wanted to have party songs on the album. In an interview Aaliyah stated, "I wanted some real party songs, so when my uncle played me that [original track], I thought of how I could make it different. Slick Rick [who’d been in jail] was on work release at the time, so Vincent got him on the song".[17] She elaborated more about covering "Got To Give It Up" by saying “I don’t know how Marvin Gaye fans will react, but I hope they like it, I always think it’s a great compliment when people remake songs. I hope one day after I’m not here that people will cover my songs".[17]

Once Aaliyah signed with Atlantic she and Atlantic Records chairman Craig Kallman discussed that it was important to find innovative producers who wasn't dominating the music charts to produce the album."[18] The overall goal was to find Aaliyah her own new sound that would define her as an artist.[18] Eventually Kallman started meeting with multiple unknown songwriters and producers and one producer by the name of Timbaland stuck out to him the most.[18] Kallman mentioned "I really just started meeting with tons and tons of new songwriters and producers, just looking for someone creative that had their own spin on things. And one day, this young kid came in. His name was Tim Mosley. He started playing me beats and it was a really obvious meeting of, ‘This doesn’t sound like anything that’s out there and really had its own super exciting and electric, just dynamic properties."[18] Kallman eventually contacted Aaliyah and told her about Timbaland and "when they met for the first time they hit it off immediately."[18] According to Kallman, "I called up Aaliyah, and I said, ‘You need to meet this guy. His name’s Timbaland, and he’s new. He’s out of the Devonte [Swing] camp. I said I think this could be your muse to really create something special. And they hit it off"."[18] During the recording process for "One in a Million" Aaliyah's label received a demo of a song called “Sugar and Spice,” from Timbaland and Missy Elliott.[21] The label felt that the song was too childish content wise for Aaliyah but they liked both the structure and melody of the record so they eventually sent the record to Aaliyah. After hearing the song she thought that record was the best thing that she ever heard.[21] So Aaliyah's label flew Timbaland and Missy to Detroit to work with her.[21] Prior to working with Aaliyah both Timbaland and Missy were skeptical about working with her because they didn't think that she would approve of their material. According to Aaliyah “At first, Tim and Missy were skeptical if I would like their work, but I thought it was tight, just ridiculous, Their sound was different and unique, and that’s what appealed to me".[17] Also prior to working with the duo Aaliyah spoke with them over the phone and explained what type of material that she wanted to record. Aaliyah stated, “Before we got together, I talked to them on the phone and told them what I wanted. I said, ‘You guys know I have a street image, but there is a sexiness to it, and I want my songs to complement that’; I told them that before I even met them. Once I said that, I didn't have to say anything else. Everything they brought me was the bomb.”[17] Eventually Aaliyah began working with both Timbaland and Missy at Vanguard Studios in Detroit for a week.[17] The earliest songs that she recorded for the album with the duo was "One in a Million" and "If Your Girl Only Knew".[17] After spending a week recording songs at Vanguard studios the trio then later flew to Pyramid Studios in Ithaca, New York, to work on more songs.[17]

Aside from recording songs with Timbaland and Missy at Vanguard studios, Aaliyah also recorded songs with producer Craig King at that same studio.[18] King stated, "We did about eight songs and out of the eight, four made it" including the songs "Got to Give It Up" and "Never Giving Up".[18] "Never Giving Up" was written by King and Monica Payne, and according to King, "I wrote Never Givin’ Up with a girl named Monica Payne who now manages V Bozeman. We started to work on the track, writing lyrics. She sat on the floor and the first line, Sitting here in this empty room,’ because the room was fairly empty because I had just moved into that house".[18] The song was King's way of showing love to the Isley Brothers and it also was an ode to the gospel group The Clark Sisters.[18] Originally the song was meant to be a solo song but after Aaliyah heard an earlier demo with singer Tavarius Polk she loved his voice and the producers decided to keep him on the song which turned into a duet.[18] The song was recorded in one session with Aaliyah recording the song with the lights turned completely off in the recording booth so people couldn't see her face.[18] Also for the album she worked with songwriter Diane Warren and producer Darryl Simmons on the song "The One I Gave My Heart To".[18] This song came into fruition when songwriter Diane Warren expressed interest in working with Aaliyah, According to Warren: "I remember really liking Aaliyah and wanting to work with her."[18] Eventually Warren reached out to Atlantic Records chairman Craig Kallman to express the possibility of working with Aaliyah and Kallman agreed to the collaboration.[18] Her goal in working with Aaliyah was to have her do a certain song that she would not have normally done, to showcase a different side of her, which included displaying her vocal range in a different way than she was used to doing.[18] Once Diane Warren was on board, producer Babyface was chosen to produce the song. Due to unforeseen circumstances he was unable to complete the work, so he enlisted producer Daryl Simmons to replace him instead.[18] Simmons would go on to produce the album version of the song, while pop producer Guy Roche would go on to produce the single version of the song.[22]

Album artworkEdit

The album artwork and overall packaging for One in a Million was shot by Marc Baptiste who had previously photographed Aaliyah's cover shoot for Seventeen magazine.[18] After shooting the cover shoot for Seventeen both Baptiste and Aaliyah crossed paths again through Kidada Jones.[18] During that encounter Aaliyah mentioned to Baptiste that she was working on her album and suggested that they should meet at another time.[18] According to Baptiste "I ran into my friend Kidada Jones who is Quincy Jones’ daughter. They were really good friends back then. She introduced us at the Mercer Hotel. We got along great and the next thing I know, ‘I’m going to put my album out. Let’s meet."[18] A month later after their encounter both Aaliyah and Baptiste met for a meeting to discuss possible concepts for the album artwork.[18] After hearing possible concepts for the album's artwork Aaliyah decided that she wanted to work with him.[18] Baptiste said,"We talked about some concepts and she loved it. After the meeting, I got the call that she really wanted me to shoot the album cover for One in a Million".[18] The photo shoot for the album lasted from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m and it was shot at various locations with the actual album cover being shot really late, between 10:30 p.m. and 11 p.m.[18] The shooting locations were at a studio and at Canal St. train station in New York.[18] When it came to the concept for the album artwork Baptiste wanted to keep it as real as possible. According to Baptiste "I wanted to keep her real. The fact that she grew up in Detroit and born in Brooklyn, I wanted to give the album cover a street chic vibe so that she’s more approachable to an audience. I didn’t want to bring her in a Bentley or anything like that. That wasn’t her. She was a down to Earth person. I wanted to keep it street chic and play off her beauty".[18] For the shoot motorcycles were rented and according to Baptiste "It almost looked like a music video shoot".[18]

Music and lyricsEdit

The album opens with an "alarm call" from the Jungle inspired intro track "Beats 4 Da Streets" and it features commentary from Missy Elliot. Throughout the intro Missy repeatedly calls Aaliyah's name and tells her to wake up. She also mentions that “You’ve just now entered into the next level the new world of funk” while various sounds such as echoing amid bells, blippy synths, and heavy bass are playing in the background.[23][24][16] The second track, "Hot Like Fire", is described as a "panting minimalist controlled-blaze baby-maker" with suggestive lyrics.[16][25] On "Hot Like Fire" Aaliyah "hums and moans promises to her new bae that his patience will be rewarded".[26] The third track "One in a Million" is an ethereal club ballad with seductive Trip hop and drum and bass influences and it features "shimmering" synths and crickets within its production.[27][24][28] Lyrically on "One in a Million" "Aaliyah communicates love and commitment to her man."[29] The fourth track "A Girl Like You" is a hip hop inspired track with a "standard 90s boom-bap beat" where Aaliyah "holds her own" against guest-rapper Treach from Naughty by Nature.[27][16] During the chorus both Aaliyah and Treach do a "cute back-and-forth" "I'm looking for a guy like you." "Yeah, you know me, I hope." "I hope you feel it in your knees." "Oh yes indeed."[30] The fifth track "If Your Girl Only Knew" is a Funk[31] and Pop song [32] and it has been described by critics as being "teasingly witchy".[33] On "If Your Girl Only Knew" Aaliyah chides a man for hitting on her when he already has a girlfriend.[31] The song features heavy keyboard and organ work along with live drums and a thumping bass line.[19] The sixth and seventh tracks "Choosey Lover" and "Got to Give It Up" are both remake covers to songs performed by The Isley Brothers and Marvin Gaye, with the latter featuring a guest appearance from rapper Slick Rick.[19] On "Got to Give It Up" Aaliyah places her falsetto "toe to toe against the liquid overlapping rhyme scheme of hip hop's ultimate storyteller slick rick".[34] For the eighth track "4 Page Letter", Aaliyah tells her "crush to keep an eye out for the mailman" because she has sent him a love letter;[16] also on the song she recalls and follows her parents' advice.[29]

The ninth track "Everything's Gonna Be Alright" has been described as a "carefree anthem for the summertime block party".[23] While the tenth track "Giving You More" is described as being a suggestive song with Aaliyah playing a "reassuring lover".[25][16] The eleventh track "I Gotcha' Back" has been described as a "jeep-friendly" G-funk[16] mid-tempo song and it contains an interpolation from the song "Lean On Me" performed by Bill Withers.[25][35] On "I Gotcha' Back" Aaliyah is promising devotion to her potential boyfriend "When no one else is there, with me you can chill," she promises.[25][35] The twelfth track "Never Givin' Up" is a duet with singer Tavarius Polk as Aaliyah "plays reassuring lover" on the song.[16] while the jungle-inspired thirteenth track "Heartbroken" has been described as being a "beautifully composed ballad".[24][25] On Heartbroken Aaliyah is "tired of being the more loving one in a lousy relationship and she's tired of having her heart broken".[36] The fourteenth track "Never Comin' Back" features "Timbaland aping the sound of a live band vamping on a laid back groove, while Aaliyah does a call-and-response harmony routine with an imaginary concert audience over canned crowd noise".[27] On the song Aaliyah is "Feeling used in a relationship, she stands up for herself and dumps the bum".[29] The fifteenth track "Ladies in da House" features guest appearances from both Missy Elliot and Timbaland. While the sixteenth track "The One I Gave My Heart To" is a Power ballad[37] with strong R&B and Pop influences, where Aaliyah is "highlighting a broken heart and sense of betrayal".[38] In a review by Billboard the production of the song was described as having a "careful balance of straight ahead pop and R&B sensibilities in producer Guy Roche's instrumental arrangement".[22] The final track on the album is the Outro "Came to Give Love (Outro)" and it features Timbaland.


In an effort to generate visual awareness for the album Aaliyah's record label began to run advertisements on June 24-July 8 on cable channels such as BET and The Box.[19] The music video for the album's lead single "If Your Girl Only Knew" was serviced to both local and national video shows on July 8.[19] Immediately after the lead single and its accompanying video was released the label went on a heavy print-ad campaign featuring Aaliyah in publications such as Seventeen, The Source and other media publications.[19] Due to Aaliyah's outstanding academic performance in school the label planned to run ads in the magazine "React" an educational teen publication inserted in various daily and weekly papers across the country.[19] Since Aaliyah was an advocate for breast-cancer screenings and crusades against Alzheimer's disease, the label planned for her to do a series of PSA's on those issues.[19] In support of the album an international promotional tour was planned in which she would tour late in the summer/early fall in the United States and towards the end of September she would tour internationally in places such as the UK, Germany, South Africa and Japan.[39]

In September 1996 Aaliyah made an appearance at MTV's sixth annual Rock N' Jock event which aired on MTV on October 26.[40] During the event she participated in the celebrity basketball game and performed her song "If Your Girl Only Knew" during the half-time show.[40][41] On November 16, 1996 Aaliyah performed on Soul Train.[42] At the beginning of 1997 Aaliyah made an appearance on the FOX television show New York Undercover as a musical guest; during her appearance on the show she performed "Choosey Lover" and the episode that she taped aired on January 16.[43][44] On February 17, 1997 Aaliyah performed "One In A Million" on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee.[45][46] While On February 18, 1997 Aaliyah performed "One In A Million" on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.[47][48] In March 1997 Aaliyah made an appearance at MTV's annual spring break celebration in Panama City, Florida.[49] During MTV spring break Aaliyah performed her song "One in a Million" and hosted a segment from the concert special called The Grind where she interviewed the Spice Girls before they performed.[50][51] Also in Spring 1997 Aaliyah was planning a tour with Az Yet and Foxy Brown but no further news on that tour was ever mentioned.[20]

Later on in the year in August 1997 MTV News reported that Aaliyah was going on a nationwide tour with Dru Hill, Ginuwine, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and Mary J Blige, the tour started on August 28 in Buffalo, New York and ended on October 5 in Phoenix, Arizona.[52] During the month of August Aaliyah made a televised appearance on the short-lived talk-show Vibe where she performed "Hot Like Fire" and gave the show's host a gift basket full of promo items.[53][54] Also in August 1997 she performed at KKBT's annual Summer Jam concert in Irvine, California at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre.[55] In the midst of touring in September 1997 Aaliyah performed her song "One in a Million" on the Nickelodeon sketch comedy show All That.[56] In October 1997 Aaliyah performed "The One I Gave My Heart To" at Nickelodeon's fourth annual The big help event in Santa Monica, California.[57][58] On December 10, 1997 Aaliyah performed "The One I Gave My Heart To" at the UNICEF Gift of Song benefit gala which aired live on TNT.[59][60][61] Also in December she performed on the annual Christmas in Washington television special.[62] Aaliyah also co headlined the B-96 B-Bash hosted by the Chicago radio station B96, during the concert she performed multiple songs including "The One I Gave My Heart To".[63]


"If Your Girl Only Knew" was released as the album's lead single on July 12, 1996 and it peaked at number 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 selling over 600,000 copies.[64][65] On the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart the song peaked at number 1 where it stayed for two consecutive weeks. In UK, the song also performed moderately well, peaking at number 21 on the UK singles chart when it was originally released by itself. In 1997 the song was re-released with "One in a Million" as a double A-side single where it reached a new peak position at number 15.[66] Also in the UK the song peaked within the top 10 on both the UK Dance and R&B charts at numbers 6 and 4 respectively.[67][68] In Japan, "If Your Girl Only Knew" peaked at number four on the Tokio Hot 100 chart,[69] while in New Zealand the song peaked at number 20.[70] The album's second single "Got to Give It Up" was released only in a few international markets where it ultimately peaked within the top 40 in the UK, New Zealand and Japan at numbers 37, 34 and 38 respectively.[66][71][72] In the UK "Got to Give It Up" peaked on the UK Dance and R&B chart at numbers 10 and 4, respectively.[73][74] "One in a Million" was released as the second single in the U.S. and third single overall from the album on December 10, 1996. The song was a top-twenty hit in the UK, reaching number fifteen on the official charts and reaching numbers 5 and 4 on the UK Dance and R&B charts.[75][76] The song also peaked at number 11 in New Zealand.[66][77]

"4 Page Letter" was released as the album's fourth single on March 11, 1997 and it peaked at number 24 in the UK and numbers 14 and 9 on the UK Dance and R&B charts.[66][78][79] "Hot Like Fire and "The One I Gave My Heart To" were released simultaneously on September 16, 1997. "Hot Like Fire" charted poorly unlike "The One I Gave My Heart To" but the song peaked at number 30 in the UK. Also in the UK "Hot Like Fire" also peaked at numbers 25 and 3 on the UK Dance and R&B charts.[66][80][81] In the US "The One I Gave My Heart To" debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 in the issue week of October 4, 1997 at number 24 and went on to peak at number 9,[82] making it the highest-charting single from the album. In that week's issue, the song debuted on the US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart at number 18 and later peaked at number 7.[83] The song was eventually certified Gold by the RIAA on October 21, 1997 for sales of 900,000 copies sold.[84][85] In the UK "The One I Gave My heart to" peaked at number 30 on the official charts and at number 25 and 3 on the Dance and R&B chats.[80][81] The song peaked within the top 20 in the Netherlands on the Tipparade chart.[86] In New Zealand the song peaked at number 28.[66][87]

Critical receptionEdit

Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic     [88]
Christgau's Consumer Guide [89]
Encyclopedia of Popular Music     [90]
Los Angeles Times    [91]
Q     [92]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide     [93]
Slant Magazine     [94]

In her review for Vibe magazine, music critic Dream Hampton said that Aaliyah's "deliciously feline" voice has the same "pop appeal" as Janet Jackson's and is complemented by the producers' funky, coherent tracks.[25] Connie Johnson of the Los Angeles Times found the album's material exceptional, including the "teasingly witchy" "If Your Girl Only Knew".[33] The Source magazine felt that One In A Million "resides on a different plane than the legion of sophomore attempts that produce only one or two gold singles, Aaliyah is ready to showcase her mature side, her best songs are about relationship woes".[96] Q magazine said that, with "her smooth, sweetly seductive vocal firmly to the fore, [Aaliyah] works through a set of predominantly slow and steamy swingbeat numbers, all clipped beats, luxurious melodies and dreamy harmonies".[97] Robert Christgau, writing in The Village Voice, was less enthusiastic and cited only "Got to Give It Up" as a "choice cut",[98] indicating "a good song on an album that isn't worth your time or money".[99] Sputnikmusic's Nick Butler deemed it a "strange" record with an overemphasis on "unusually good" and "occasionally brilliant" ballads but plagued by upbeat tracks that were not on-par, except "Hot Like Fire".[95]People felt that the album offered more variety in content as opposed to Aaliyah's debut album, saying: "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.'",[24] Bob Waliszewski from Plugged In gave the album a mixed review, he felt that on the album Aaliyah had positive things to say but the message got lost in certain songs that are suggestive, in his opinion the " Sexually suggestive lyrics spoil whatever good this disc has going for it".[29]

In a retrospective review, Slant Magazine said One in a Million was "undoubtedly one of the most influential R&B albums of the '90s," and credited it for establishing "Aaliyah and the Timbo family as undeniable hip-hop forces."[94] Allmusic viewed it as a significant improvement over her debut album with "greater variety of material" and producers, and called Aaliyah's voice "smoother, more seductive, and stronger than before".[88] According to Jon Caramanica from Spin "One In A Million found Aaliyah at the nexus of street savvy R&B and elegant pop."[2]


One in a Million was nominated for Favorite Female R&B album at the third annual Blockbuster Entertainment Awards in 1997.[100] Also in 1997 the album was nominated for Best R&B/Soul Album, Female at the 10th annual Soul Train Music Awards.[101] In 1998 "One in a Million" the song was nominated for Best R&B/Soul Single, Female at the 11th annual Soul Train Music Awards.[102] The album was ranked number 90 on Rolling Stone's 100 greatest albums of the 90s list.[103] It was also listed as one of 33 Hip hop/R&B albums in Rolling Stone's "Essential Recordings of the 90s".[3] In 2007 "One In A Million" was included on Vibe Magazine's 150 Essential Vibe Albums list, according to vibe "As seductive as an R&B vocalist, Aaliyah is insouciantly sexy on her second album the songwriting isn't quite polished yet, but the early signs are like gleaming flares.[104] In November 2017 the album was ranked seventh on Complex's "The 50 Best R&B Albums of the '90's" list. According to Ross Scarano "One in a Million is the definitive account of Aaliyah and Timbaland's collective brilliance" and that songs from the album such as Hot Like Fire, If Your Girl Only Knew, Four Page Letter, One in a Million "are the songs that modern R&B, rap, and EDM could not do without".[105]

Commercial performanceEdit

One in a Million debuted at number 20 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling 40,500 copies during the week of September 14, 1996.[106][107] The album reached its peak at number 18 on February 1, 1997, spending a total of 67 weeks on the Billboard 200 chart.[108] On the Top R&B/Hip Hop charts the album peaked at number 2 on February 8, 1997, where it spent a total of 71 weeks on that chart.[109] During the Christmas week of 1996 the album sold 71,000 copies for that particular week.[110] Two months after the album's release One In a Million was certified Gold by the RIAA on October 23, 1996. Four months later after being certified gold the album was certified Platinum on February 5, 1997. On June 16, 1997 four months after being certified platinum the album was certified double platinum. By the end of 1997 the album had sold an additional 1.1 million copies according to Billboard.[111] After Aaliyah's death, One in a Million returned to the Billboard 200 and US Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and also topped the Top Catalog Albums chart for 12 weeks.

In Canada One in a Million debuted at number 35 on the Canadian RPM Albums Chart on September 9, 1996, the following week later on September 16 the album reached its peak at number 33.[112][113] on May 28, 1997 the album was certified gold by Music Canada for 50,000 copies sold in that region.[114] On September 7, 1996 the album entered both the UK Albums Chart and UK R&B Chart peaking at number 33 and 3 respectively.[115][116] The album eventually was certified gold in the UK by the BPI for 100,000 copies sold. In Japan the album peaked at number 36 on the Oricon albums chart and it received a gold certification by the RIAJ.[117] In Australia, The Netherlands and Sweden the album peaked at number 93, 62 and 41 respectively. Overall the album has sold 3 million copies in the US and 8 million copies worldwide.[11][6][118] Also in the US the album has sold an additional 756,000 units through BMG Music Club, Nielsen SoundScan does not count albums sold through clubs like the BMG Music Service, which were significantly popular in the 1990s.[119]

Track listingEdit

Standard edition
1."Beats 4 da Streets (Intro)" (featuring Missy Elliott)
  • Elliott
  • Timbaland
2."Hot Like Fire"
  • Elliott
  • Timbaland
3."One in a Million"
  • Elliott
  • Timbaland
4."A Girl Like You" (featuring Treach)
  • Kay-Gee
  • Darren Lighty
  • Kay-Gee
  • Lighty
5."If Your Girl Only Knew"
  • Elliott
  • Timbaland
6."Choosey Lover (Old School/New School)"7:07
7."Got to Give It Up" (featuring Slick Rick)Marvin Gaye
  • Herbert
  • Craig King
8."4 Page Letter"
  • Elliott
  • Timbaland
9."Everything's Gonna Be Alright"
10."Giving You More"J. DibbsJ. Dibbs4:26
11."I Gotcha' Back"
  • Dupri
  • Carl-So-Lowe
12."Never Givin' Up" (featuring Tavarius Polk)
  • Monica Bell
  • King
  • Herbert
  • King
  • Elliott
  • Timbaland
14."Never Comin' Back"
  • Elliott
  • Timbaland
15."Ladies in da House" (featuring Missy Elliott & Timbaland)
  • Elliott
  • Timbaland
16."The One I Gave My Heart To"Diane WarrenDaryl Simmons4:30
17."Came to Give Love (Outro)" (featuring Timbaland) Timbaland1:40
Japanese bonus tracks
18."No Days Go By"
  • King
  • Rheji Burrell
  • Aaliyah
  • Herbert
  • Burrell
  • King
2004 re-release
18."Come Over"Johnta Austin3:55
Notes and sample credits

^[a] denotes additional producer



Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[132] Gold 50,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[134] Gold 160,000[133]
United Kingdom (BPI)[135] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[136] 2× Platinum 3,756,000[*]
Worldwide 8,000,000[6]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

  • ^ * The album has sold 3 million copies in the US according to Nielsen SoundScan,[11] which does not count albums sold through clubs like the BMG Music, where she sold 756,000.[119] Combined, it has sold over 3,756,000 copies in the US.


Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.[137]

  • Aaliyah – vocals
  • Marc Baptiste – Photography
  • Carlton Batts – Mastering
  • Monica Bell – Composer
  • Thomas Bricker – Art Direction
  • Ricky Brown – Mixing
  • Carl-So-Lowe – Composer, Producer
  • Al Carter – Project Coordinator
  • Paulinho Da Costa – Guest Artist, Percussion
  • David de la Cruz – Stylist
  • J. Dibbs – Composer, Mixing, Producer, Vocal Arrangement
  • Patrick Dillett – Engineer
  • DJ Kay Gee – Composer, Mixing, Producer
  • Jimmy Douglas – Engineer, Mixing
  • Jermaine Dupri – Composer, Mixing, Producer
  • Missy Elliott – Composer, Guest Artist, Vocal Ad-Libs, Vocal Arrangement
  • Ronnie Garrett – Bass
  • Ben Garrison – Engineer, Mixing
  • Marvin Gaye – Composer
  • Mark Goodman – Remixing
  • Franklin Grant – Mixing
  • Barry Hankerson – Creative Consultant, Executive Producer
  • Dianne Hankerson – Hair Stylist
  • Jomo Hankerson – Executive Producer
  • Shanga Hankerson – Project Coordinator
  • Melanie Harris – Make-Up
  • Xavier Harris – Vocals (Background)
  • Demetrius Hart – Vocals (Background)
  • Michael Haughton – Executive Producer
  • Pierre Heath – Vocals (Background)
  • Vincent Herbert – Mixing, Producer
  • Ernie Isley – Composer
  • Marvin Isley – Composer
  • O'Kelly Isley – Composer
  • Ronald Isley – Composer
  • Rudolph Isley – Composer
  • Chris Jasper – Composer
  • Rodney Jerkins – Composer, Mixing, Multi Instruments, Producer, Rap, Vocal Ad-Libs
  • Craig Kallman – Executive Producer
  • Thom "TK" Kidd – Engineer, Mixing
  • Carol Kim – Project Coordinator
  • Craig King – Composer, Engineer, Producer, Remix Vocals Arranger, Vocal Arrangement, Vocals (Background)
  • Darren Lighty – Composer, Mixing, Producer
  • Timothy Mosley – Composer, Mixing
  • Chuck Nice – Engineer
  • Monica Payne – Composer
  • Tavarius Polk – Vocals, Vocals (Background)
  • Michael J. Powell – Guitar
  • Mike Rew – Engineer
  • Daryl Simmons – Drum Programming, Drums, Guitar (Acoustic), Keyboards, Producer
  • Ivy Skoff – Production Coordination
  • Slick Rick – Guest Artist, Rap, Vocal Ad-Libs
  • Rashad Smith – Producer, Remixing
  • Sound Boy – Engineer
  • Sebrina Swaby – Project Coordinator
  • Phil Tan – Engineer, Mixing, Vocals (Background)
  • Tann – Vocals (Background)
  • Japhe Tejeda – Composer
  • Timbaland – Guest Artist, Mixing, Producer, Vocal Ad-Libs
  • Diane Warren – Composer
  • "Ready" Freddie Washington – Bass


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External linksEdit