The song finds Aaliyah offering a late-night tryst to a guy she's had her eye on for a while. She insists on discretion however, repeatedly asking him, "Are you responsible?"
Timbaland wrote this song with Stephen "Static Major" Garrett, who co-wrote most of Aaliyah's other hits along with songs for Ginuwine ("So Anxious," "Pony") and his group Playa ("Cheers 2 U," "Don't Stop The Music").
In the December 2008 issue of Vibe magazine, Garrett mentions that Aaliyah did not initially like this song and another Static wrote for her, "Try Again." She recorded them both, though, and they became big hits for her. Aaliyah didn't write songs, but prided herself on being able to interpret them.
Timbaland produced this song, incorporating the clean percussion sound that powered many of his productions. Often working with Missy Elliott and Melvin "Magoo" Barcliff, he became one of the hottest producers of this era, and Aaliyah was one of his biggest stars. She had previously worked with R. Kelly and Jermaine Dupri.
Aaliyah was 19 when this was released in 1998, but she was already a seasoned pro: her first album, Age Ain't Nothing but a Number, was issued in 1994.
A key component to this song is the baby giggling and cooing in the background. This was a unique production element that played to Aaliyah's nickname: "baby girl," which is how Timbaland addresses her in his rap.
Many rumors floated around as to the identity of the baby (a popular one was that it came from a home video of Aaliyah when she was little), but the "happy baby" came from a CD from a sound effects library.
The same sound was used in Prince's song "Delirious," which in turn was sampled from the 1968 song "Countdown to 6," by Perrey and Kingsley.
This was featured in the movie Dr. Dolittle, starring Eddie Murphy. The soundtrack featured several other Timbaland productions, including "Same Ol' G" by Ginuwine and an All Saints cover of "Lady Marmalade."
He and Stephen Garrett put the song together on very short notice when they got the call to produce a track for the film. Timbaland remembers the gig paying $400,000.
Timbaland did the rap at the end of the song, which has nothing to do with the storyline of the song but serves as effective promotion for him and Aaliyah - by mentioning their names, it ensured that listeners would know the artist and producer when they heard it on the radio. When Timbaland introduces himself as "The man from the big VA," he's referring to his home state of Virginia.
This was nominated for a Grammy for Best Female R&B Vocal in 1999.
The video gets very literal with the "watching you like a hawk" line, showing Aaliyah handling the bird. Other than that, most of the clip (directed by Mark Gerard) is comprised of group dance scenes starring Aaliyah's abs.
According to Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine, listening to this song convinced him "to pursue a more soulful sound in his music." You can hear the influence on the early Maroon 5 track "Not Coming Home," which borrows many elements from "Are You That Somebody?"
Jadon from Florida That "fact" about the baby sounds being Aaliyah is false, just a rumor. It IS from Prince's song Delirious, which in turn was sampled from a song from 1968, "Countdown to 6" by Perrey and Kingsley.
D. from Dallas, TxI always thought the baby cooing thoughout the song was a sample from Delirious by Prince...
Shabrimac from Los Angeles, CaI love this song, RIP Aaliyah RIP Static Major!
Kaylah from Stoneville, NcI love this song, but I think the baby noises are a LITTLE creepy :/ but other than that, PERFECT!
Elmer from Honolulu, Hianother aaliyah's masterpiece RIP