Hankerson, who appeared on a recent episode of The Rickey Smiley Morning Show, explained the journey Aaliyah’s music took to now be available on streaming platforms, and took a moment to explain his thoughts on R. Kelly—who he introduced his niece to in the ‘90s before they went on to collaborate on her debut LP.
“To be very honest with you, of course, I was upset. I had to really, really consider what my actions would be,” he said, per HotNewHipHop. “And really I found out, I wasn’t a hardcore criminal. I couldn’t kill nobody. So, I took it, I’m a Muslim, and I went to Minster Farrakhan and we just prayed about it, resolved ourselves to let God handle him. I think that’s what’s going on. Ain’t no sense in two lives getting destroyed.”
Kelly’s relationship with Aaliyah has been a discussion point in his ongoing federal racketeering trial in Brooklyn, where he’s facing multiple accusations of sexual abuse. Just last week, prosecutors brought up Aaliyah and Kelly’s reported 1994 union, when she was 15 and he was 27, as Brooklyn Assistant US Attorney Maria Cruz Melendez said prosecutors believe that Kelly thought Aaliyah was pregnant and decided to illegally marry the minor so she wouldn’t testify against him.
“This was, of course, a huge problem for him,” Cruz Melendez said. “If she was pregnant that meant there would be questions: At the very top of that list of questions — who is the father of that baby?”
Hankerson explained that he’s not keeping up with Kelly’s trial as it pertains to Aaliyah.
“I just put a wall up to that. It’s just too emotional for me,” he said. “It just brings back too many bad thoughts for my whole family. He impacted my whole family, you know. It’s just a bad thing.”
The next proper Aaliyah effort to hit streaming will be her self-titled third studio album, which released in 2001 and is going to be available to stream on Sept. 10, following the Romeo Must Die soundtrack on Sept. 3.