Drake has made his admiration and respect for Aaliyah very clear through various interviews, so it seemed appropriate for a record on his debut album to use a sample from Aaliyah’s debut album. After being signed to Jive Records at the age of 15, the beautiful and talented Aaliyah was introduced to singer/producer R.Kelly who would end up being her mentor and also the lead songwriter and producer on her debut, Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number. He and his protege singer spent countless hours in the studio, molding her raw vocal talent into the sound of a young superstar. Fueled by two hit singles, the album peaked at number 18 on the Billboard 200 and sold over 3 million copies (wow – a number 18 album these days would be lucky to break 50 thousand). The first single was “Back and Forth” and the second was Drake’s choice “At Your Best (You Are Love)”. Like many other special artists we have lost, it’s hard not to imagine the heights her career would have reached by the present day.
Constructed by Drake’s lethal studio weapons, Noah “40” Shebib and Boi-1da, “Unforgettable” starts and ends with the Aaliyah sample. They probably chose “At Your Best” because it contained a soothing acapella section, giving them a lot of flexibility in production. Aaliyah’s vocals are layered with some smooth pads and a nice chord progression that is used as the musical base for the song. Since her part is a repetitive “Let Me Know…”, it may also have been the basis for the concept of the record. Basically, let Drizzy know if he’ll really be unforgettable. Can’t forget my girl Rachel for her help with this one.