AceShowbiz - Jay-Z appeared to be all over Aaliyah, before he was smitten with his now-wife Beyonce Knowles. Never-before-published photos have surfaced online, showing the rapper getting handsy with the R&B singer back in 2000.
The pictures obtained by Daily Mail were taken from a Fourth of July party in that year. Jay, who was 30 and single at the time, was seen dancing and posing for pictures with then-21-year-old Aaliyah. In one snap, the hip-hop mogul was seen putting his hand around Aaliyah's waist while they were surrounded by other partygoers.
Damon Dash, who dated Aaliyah from 2000 until her death in a plane crash in August 2001, was also at the party. He was seen getting shirtless while dancing with the "Try Again" hitmaker, grinding on each other's back.
A source who was at the Fourth of July party confirmed that Jay appeared besotted with Aaliyah. The eyewitness said, "Jay-Z had just had a big hit with 'Big Pimpin' ' and he decided to have this party with Damon and the rest of his crew for the Fourth of July. Diddy [P. Diddy] was there too."
"Aaliyah was becoming super famous at the time and had just starred in her first movie, 'Romeo Must Die', so they were all doing really well," the source continued. "Jay-Z rented a mansion in East Hampton and they had a catered barbecue in a tent in the back yard. It was a really fun party."
The source went on dishing, "Damon was dating Aaliyah at the time and Jay-Z was single, he wasn't there with a girl. I saw that Jay-Z was trying to get close to Aaliyah but I didn't think too much of it at the time."
"Now that Damon has said what he said it all makes sense. Jay-Z was all over Aaliyah," the source added. "They were hugging each other and you could totally see there was a chemistry between them. I knew that Damon was going out with her so I did think it was a little weird. Sometimes people share girlfriends. I don't know if they were sharing but they wouldn't be the first."
Damon revealed earlier this month that Jay was "going hard" to win the heart of the "Back & Forth" songstress. "He tried very hard," Damon told Page Six of Jay's effort to be with Aaliyah. "I did not know Jay was trying to holler at her, but then it just happened like that. He was trying, I was trying. Everybody was trying - he was going hard."
Of how Aaliyah ended up with him instead of with Jay, Damon claimed, "I did not mean to fall in love with Aaliyah, she was just that cool. But you know, we were both going hard ... everybody was trying to get to Aaliyah - it was not just Jay."
Meanwhile, in January of this year, producer Choke No Joke, who worked at Roc-A-Fella Records with Damon, told The Starr Report that Damon came in between Jay and Aaliyah. "Dame went behind [Jay's] back and hollered at [Aaliyah]," Choke said.
Aaliyah died in August 2001 after a plane that carried her and eight other people, including the pilot, crashed in the Bahamas after filming the music video for the single "Rock the Boat". She was 22 years old at the time.
Jay-Z was among the mourners at Aaliyah's funeral service on August 31, 2001. He would later date Beyonce and married her in April 2008.