Speaking with TMZ, Background Records founder Barry Hankerson—who says he owns Aaliyah’s masters—acknowledged the song and described it as an example of something Aaliyah would have encouraged.
“I believe that Aaliyah would be very supportive of a young Black woman that chose to emulate her music and style,” Hankerson said in a report published Tuesday. Hankerson was also quoted as saying he feels it would have been “more honorable” to line up approval for a direct sample of “One in a Million,” though he still expressed support for the song and its continued success.
“I will not stand in the way of something that brings to light the incredible staying power of Aaliyah,” said Hankerson, adding that Aaliyah would have been “pleased” with “Wild Side.”
Complex has reached out to a rep for Normani for additional comment.
The Aaliyah inspiration has been acknowledged by Normani, however, who recently responded (in a since-removed tweet) to praise she received from Timbaland—who produced “One in a Million”—following the release of her collab with Cardi B.
“Wild Side” marks the first time Normani and Cardi have worked together, with the former recently revealing she was actually in rehearsals when Cardi heard the song for the first time.
“She really showed up for me and brought this record to life by simply doing what Cardi does best. I love that woman down and I’m forever grateful,” Normani said last week when sharing the track’s official video, directed by Tanu Muino and choreographed by Sean Bankhead.
Meanwhile, in early January, the Aaliyah estate shared an extended message to fans on the eve of what would have been the singer’s 42nd birthday. In the statement, the estate addressed the ongoing inquiries from fans regarding the status of the process behind the singer’s notoriously incomplete digital catalog.
“While we share your sentiments and desire to have Aaliyah’s music released, we must acknowledge that these matters are not within our control and, unfortunately, take time,” the estate wrote at the time, marking the latest development in the ongoing push for the singer’s catalog to be made easily accessible via streaming services. “Our inability to share Aaliyah’s music and artistry with the world has been as difficult for us as it has been for all of you.”