Entertainment

Ashanti got her big break after Brandy passed ‘Always on Time’

You know you’ve made it when a whole generation of girls are named after you. This is the kind of next-level legacy Ashanti left in two decades and counts R&B divadum.

“I’ve met a lot of people who are like, ‘Oh my god, I named my daughter after you,'” the singer, who was named after the Ashanti tribe in Ghana, told The Post. “And it’s really a beautiful, beautiful feeling. Do you know what’s so funny? I googled the popularity of [the name] ‘Ashanti’ before my album came out and then after and the difference is crazy!”

This is the immediate effect Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas had when she stopped singing Ja Rule’s famous hooks “Always on time” and Fat Joe’s “What’s Luv?” to become a solo star with her self-titled debut album, which was released on April 2, 2002, 20 years ago. With its forward-thinking sound, the LP instantly crowns Glen Cove, Long Island’s princess of hip-hop soul — with the hits “Foolish,” “Happy” and “Baby” – was certified triple platinum won her a Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Album. And it firmly established a career that led Ashanti to switch from music to acting get a star on Thursday on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Ashanti
Ashanti celebrates the 20th anniversary of their self-titled debut album. Above, the singer wears a tailored wool cropped jacket by Fendi, $3,590and pants, $2,390; Fabergé x James Ganh necklace in carved rock crystal, emerald and diamonds in white gold, $32,760; Fabergé x James Ganh pendant in white gold with tanzanite, emerald and cushion-cut diamond, $284,700; Fabergé x James Ganh convertible emerald and diamond ring and pendant head in white gold cushion cut, $253,500; Fabergé x James Ganh ring in white gold with emeralds and cushion-cut diamonds, $89,700; Fabergé Emotion Katharina 39.7k white gold aquamarine ring with diamonds and blue gemstones, $75,000
Brian Zak/NY Post

“I can’t believe I’m getting a star,” said Ashanti, 41. “I’m so grateful and humbled and overwhelmed. And with divine timing that my 20th anniversary of my first album falls essentially in the same week. . . we could not have planned this alignment.”

Discovered by Murder Inc. Records founder Irv Gotti through his former babysitter, Ashanti got her big break when she was featured on Ja Rule’s 2001 #1 single “Always On Time.” “To be honest with you, I think the song was supposed to be for Brandy, and she ended up not doing it,” she said. “And Ashanti came in and howled in the streets!”

Ashanti
While recording her debut LP at Crack House Studio in Soho, 20-year-old Ashanti silenced the doubters with her songwriting skills.

After having “instant chemistry” with her Murder Inc. labelmate, Ashanti broke free to record her debut album. While recording, she drove from her parents’ house, where she had her own basement apartment, to Manhattan’s Crack House studio in Soho. “The name wasn’t because of drugs,” she said. “We produced crack-in-hit records.”

In a male-dominated hip-hop scene, Ashanti was determined to prove herself as both a singer and a songwriter. “I just remember being a young girl from Long Island in the middle of all these guys and gangstas in the studio and they didn’t know if I could really write,” she said. “So they always gave me tests. They had to watch me write because they didn’t think I was writing alone.”

Ashanti and Ja Rule
Ashanti performed with her Always On Time collaborator Ja Rule in 2004.
Getty Images

But Ashanti would write every track on her debut album, including the first single “Foolish”. Blending her sweet, soulful vocals with hip-hop beats, the song defined the Ashanti sound.

“In my heart, I’ve always been a girl who loves hip-hop,” she said. “And for me it was always the yin and the yang, the soft with the hard.”

Ashanti
Ashanti still lives in her hometown of Long Island, with her mother as her manager. Above, the singer wears a dress by Bronx & Banco Iman $2,000; Fabergé x James Ganh earrings in rose gold with pink rubies and diamonds, $50,700; Fabergé Emotion Katharina yellow gold 21.17 ct topaz ring with diamonds and colored gemstones, $69,500; cult gaia shoes, $388
Tamara Beckwith

“Foolish” reigned at number 1 “What’s upwind?” 2, Ashanti became the first artist to simultaneously occupy the top two positions on the Billboard Hot 100. And suddenly you could hear the Ashanti influence everywhere. In fact, there were people who accused Jennifer Lopez of stealing her sound because Ashanti recorded the original demos for J.Lo’s “I’m Real” and “Ain’t It Funny” remixes, both featuring Ja Rule.

“Some people called me when ‘I’m Real’ came out and said, ‘Oh my god, is that your new song?’ said Ashanti, who was credited as a co-writer “Ain’t It Funny” remix. “It was the Murder Inc. sound, so there were similarities. I think it was just something that came with the business. But I try not to see things negatively, so I try to take it as a compliment.”

Ashanti and Fat Joe
Ashanti and her “What’s Luv?” Associate Fat Joe in 2002.
WireImage

With her career on fire, Ashanti also began a high-profile relationship with “Hot in Herre” Rapper Nelly in 2003. The couple dated for 11 years before splitting in 2014.

“There were good times and there were times when it was difficult. . . I just travel so much and live in two different states,” she said. “Our careers really took off then. It was really hard trying to just do everything.”

Ashanti and Nelly
Ashanti and ex-boyfriend Nelly, who were together for 11 years in 2006.
WireImage

Now Ashanti is perfectly comfortable with not getting married. “There were situations that came very, very close to that,” she said. “I just want it to be the right person. My parents have been married for over 40 years. You know, that’s kind of the template for me.”

Ashanti still lives near her parents on Long Island and maintains close family ties. In fact, her mother, Tina Douglas, has served as her manager throughout her career.

Ashanti
Ashanti won the 2003 Grammy for Best Contemporary R&B Album.
Getty Images

There is certainly enough for her “MOManger”, as she calls herself, to help her daughter with juggling: Ashanti recently became co-owner of technology company EQ Exchange, who just announced an NFT collection to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their debut album. She’s also filming a romantic comedy, The Plus One, with Cedric the Entertainer while working on new music to be released later this year. Plus, She has a children’s bookMy name is a story‘, due in July.

“It encourages kids to be happy and feel okay because they’re different or have a different name,” Ashanti said. “You know, my name is different; It is not common. But I want kids who go by any other name to understand that that’s power in and of itself. love your name Love the fact that you are different and stand out from others.”

For two looks featured in this article, stylist: Tim B (@styledbytimb); Stylist: Jermicia Lloyd (@jermicia); Assistant Stylist: Nasir Williams (@nysircarter); Hair: Joel James; makeup: Angie Martinez; Location: NoMo SoHo Hotel, 9 Crosby St. (@thenomosoho)

https://nypost.com/2022/04/07/ashanti-got-her-big-break-after-brandy-passed-on-always-on-time/ Ashanti got her big break after Brandy passed ‘Always on Time’

Dais Johnston

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