It’s hard to believe that 20 years ago today, Aaliyah slinked onto the scene with her debut album, Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number. The R. Kelly-produced album helped define the New Jack swing sound made popular by acts like Bobby Brown, Color Me Badd, Tony! Toni! Toné! and even Whitney Houston. While the album wasn’t a runaway hit, it did go onto sell 3 million copies in the U.S. alone and immediately found fans among critics and consumers alike. Two years later, One in a Million would catapult her to even more success, but songs like “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number” and “Back & Forth” established a new sultry R&B diva ready take control.
On the 20th anniversary of her debut album, VH1 is taking a look back on all those ages—ahem, numbers—in the singer’s short life.