The 1998 single “Are You That Somebody” is one of the most popular songs in Aaliyah’s catalog. The late singer’s longtime musical collaborator, Timbaland, produced the track which lives on the Dr. Dolittle soundtrack.
Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody” apparently drew inspiration from another kid-friendly film. Timberland spoke about creating the classic tune during a panel discussion at the 21st Annual Pop Conference at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music.
“I actually was trying to make the Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory beat from the ‘Oompa-Loompa’ song,” revealed Timbaland. “I took that rhythm and I listened back to it and I was like, ‘Man, that’s a dope addition.’ That’s what I was trying to attempt but in a Hip Hop way.”
“Are You That Somebody” peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. The song also topped the R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay rankings for eight weeks. “Are You That Somebody” earned Aaliyah a Grammy nomination for Best Female R&B Vocal Performance.
Timbaland’s iconic beat for “Are You That Somebody” famously features baby noises. The four-time Grammy winner also discussed using that unorthodox sound for the Static Major-written record during his appearance at this year’s Pop Conference.
“So I was going through my effects sounds, and I heard this baby. Was it a baby, was it a chicken, there was a cow, there was Godzilla, this whole row. And this baby came across, and it was laughing, and that [one sound] wasn’t the whole thing,” said Timbaland.
He continued, “I got to that one part, and as soon as the beat came on, I just hit the button. I didn’t think it was gonna work. I was talking to Aaliyah from where she was sitting on the couch, and I just hit the button and it was in key. Everything was perfect. I put it in the song and she said, ‘Oh, that’s so cute!’”
Aaliyah’s full discography finally made it to streaming services in 2021, twenty years after the R&B vocalist’s tragic death in The Bahamas. Last year, Blackground Records 2.0 label head, Barry Hankerson, announced a posthumous Aaliyah album titled Unstoppable.