Former Fifth Harmony member Normani has found herself in a controversy surrounding a possible sample of Aaliyah's "One in a Million," and now the late singer's uncle has weighed in with his opinion on the matter. Normani recently debuted her new single, "Wild Side," which features Cardi B, and many have said that they believe it samples Aaliyah's aforementioned hit tune. TMZ spoke with Barry Hankerson, who is Aaliyah's uncle and also the manager of her music catalog, and he was noticeably unbothered by the situation.
Hankerson told the outlet that his niece "always encouraged young women pursuing their musical and entertainment careers, to achieve their dreams," and therefore he doesn't think Aaliyah would have any problems with Normani possibly sampling her music. "I believe that Aaliyah would be very supportive of a young Black woman that chose to emulate her music and style," Hankerson said.
Hankerson did go on to say that, if Normani did sample "One in a Million," he feels it would have been "more honorable" to get approval for its use. Ultimately, however, he did not appear upset by the possibility. "I will not stand in the way of something that brings to light the incredible staying power of Aaliyah. So in that light, wishing Normani well with the song and overall career. God bless. I think Aaliyah would be pleased."
TMZ goes on to report that a lawyer for Blackground Records, Hankerson's music label, confirmed that no Aaliyah samples were ever legally cleared for use. Normani's team has spoken out as well, stating that that "Wild Side" does not use a direct sample of "One in a Million." Notably, Normani did respond to a tweet about Timbaland — who produced "Wild Thing" — enjoying her song. "I must've died when I seen this," she said.
Widely referred to as the "Princess of R&B" and "Queen of Urban Pop," Aaliyah rose to fame in the mid '90s, releasing her debut album, Age Ain't Nothing but a Number, in 1994. She then scored a big hit with the One in a Million album in 1996, which featured the title track that Normani is speculated to have sampled. Aaliyah only recorded one more full-length studio album, 2001s self-titled Aaliyah, before her death. The album debuted in July, but the singer, tragically, died in a plane crash the following month.