January 16th would have been Aaliyah’s birthday, putting her at 36 years old, and Frank Ocean took it upon himself to pay homage to the late artist. He posted a version of “At Your Best (You Are Love)” on his Tumblr page, a straight from the heart, soulful rendition complete with a gorgeous falsetto. It is stripped down to the bare bones, just Ocean and a few piano chords, keeping it simple, sweet, and powerful. The song choice came from a 1994 cover Aaliyah did of the same song, which was originally by the Isley Brothers in 1976. It was unannounced to his fans, as most of his posts are, and just left as a treasure for his followers to stumble across whenever they happen to.
This particular Tumblr post is one of very few Ocean has put out since his debut into music stardom with the 2012 hit Channel Orange, and he refers to the tribute as “You Are Luhh.” Other than this cover song, he has only put out “Memrise,” which came in November of 2014, and was his first piece of music since 2012. This nod to Aaliyah was all the more special coming from him, since posts like this are so rare.
Other artists, including Drake and Noah “40” Shebib, had been working on a collection of 16 songs from Aaliyah that had previously gone unreleased, planning on compiling them for a posthumous album. However, a public outcry from her fan base, family, and even Timbaland saw the project shut down. A tribute is one thing, but when Aaliyah’s mother said she wanted no part of the songs being released, 40 said he “walked away very quickly.”
As for anything else from Frank Ocean in the near future, no one can really say. However, he has been collaborating most recently with Lil B, Pharrell Williams, Rodney Jerkins, Danger Mouse, and Hit-Boy, so we can only wait to see what he has in store for his fans. For now, this smooth, empowering gesture for Baby Girl is all his fans have as they wait for something more from the Channel Orange singer.