With an album coming out soon, the former Murder Inc. hit making songstress is on the prowl to have the summer on lock.
When you mentioned the name Ashanti, you have no choice but to smile from ear to ear as her soulful catalog of music she released has been undeniably impressive. After catching the industry’s ear with her cameo on Ja Rule‘s chart topper “Always On Time”, Ashanti was ready to grab the R&B game by the neck and put it in the chokehold…..in which she did. She was able to win the hearts of many fans worldwide thanks to her self-titled debut, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 with hits such as “Foolish”, “Baby” and “Happy”. The hits kept on coming as her sophomore album “Chapter II” went to reach platinum status after selling over 1.5 million copies. With major success like this, the Long Island native was able to continue to be a shining star amongst females the youth can look up to as her down-to-earth, charismatic, and selfless attributes were on display as she was able to collab with former first lady Michelle Obama in a campaign known as #DrinkUp in which she did a song for it called “Let Go”.
Recently, Ashanti and Ja Rule made a random appearance on “The Hamilton Mixtape” with the track called “Helpless”. With all the huge accomplishments and accolades she achieved, what is next for the multi-talented superstar? Currently on tour, The Source Magazine was able to catch up with Ashanti to talk music, life after Murder Inc. and her upcoming album.
The Source Magazine: How did the idea came of you and Ja reuniting to make a appearance on The Hamilton Mixtape?
Ashanti: Lin Manuel’s people from Atlantic Records reached out to me and Ja and they invited us to go see the Floyd fight. Then we went to the play and to be very blunt and honest with you, we both were there in old traditional clothes because we thought it was going to be corny. I was very very very surprised and it was an amazing show. Afterwards we went backstage and met up with Lin. Lin just told us that me and Ja inspired him to write “Helpless”. He said our music has inspired him for so long and it was one of his dreams to have us be apart of the project. Both me and Ja was taken back and was saying to ourselves “WOW!, We had to idea”. So that translated into us getting in the studio and doing “Helpless”. They came to the studio either the second night and they did one version in LA and one version in NY and Lin came to NY estatic saying “Oh My God, this is amazing”. Overall, it was really a cool experience.
The Source Magazine: Well not alot of fans knew that growing up you studied modern, ballet, jazz and African dance. You was apart of the BAM (Brooklyn Academy Of Music) and Carnegie Hall dance emsemble. How did grassroots upbringing in the field of dance and modern jazz production helped apply yourself so well with the making of the song for the mixtape?
Ashanti: Well you know doing dance recitals and things of that nature obviously different than going into the studio to record a record. But just having respect for the theater and I feel it’s not straining too too far from the original because obviously Hamilton has their core, die-hard fans. They don’t want anything too different and I think that the trick was to make it our own and still pay respect to the original and I think we did a really good on fulfilling that gap. So as far as me coming from Carnegie Hall again, I think it just have respect for the art of theater and making that combination of the two believable.
The Source Magazine: What’s your opinion on the state of today’s hip hop and r&b.
Ashanti: Music obviously changes. We living in a very “technical” world and everything is very fast paced. For me, I feel that it is a little more restricted and a little more less authentic; I believe that it’s less from the heart. It’s very electronic and the records are just different. When our grandparents and parents was putting out records in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s, music evolves you know. But for me, I just feel that when my first three albums came out, there was a lot of authenticity, there was real passion that was in my records. Just going to the studio, creating a vibe and recording; there was some authenticity in those moments. So you know….it’s a little different now.
The Source Magazine: Your self titled debut was released to the fans 15 years ago. When you first debuted the album, did you even fathom that this project will have such a huge significance as far as how the listeners in today’s generation would listen to r&b music?
Ashanti: Well recently, we actually celebrated the anniversary this past Sunday which so happen to be my sisters birthday too (chuckles)…but to be honest with you, absolutely not. When we got the numbers then, I didn’t know what anything meant. I just remember being in the limo going away to however many signings I was doing that day. They came in with the numbers and they were like “OH MY GOD! 503,000 records yadda-yadda-ya”. And I was like “What happened? Is that not good? Did it mess up?”. I didn’t know what was going on so I was super duper naive. So when I knew the numbers it did, I didn’t know what that meant. I didn’t know if it was a good thing or if it was not good. I just didn’t know. So the magnitude of that was huge but you know as a artist and as a young female coming up as a new artist to be able to have made history, break records, be in the Guinness Book Of World Records, you really don’t get the chance to take it all in until a little bit later on. It was definitely a very humbling thing and it was an amazing experience I guess.
The Source Magazine: As us and the fans already know that you are on tour right now with Ja. How’s reuniting with Ja on tour been treating you lately?
Ashanti: I think the beauty of us getting back together for the tour is just an beautiful thing to the point where it feels like there wasn’t no time that needed to be made up for with me and him. We can not see each other for a year but when we get back on the stage, it feels like we been hanging out all day for the last 9 months or so. Our chemistry is just really really genuine and it’s pure and it’s so organic. It’s crazy because it’s been like that since day 1. It’s funny because I just posted some throwback behind-the-scenes moments from when we shot “Always On Time” with Dave Myers. It’s funny that you mentioned it but I just remember us just clicking. So being on tour is just no different.We argue a little bit because I’m a little messed up since Ja don’t have to do hair and makeup and I gotta do it. You can come out the hotel with a new outfit and you good and that only takes 10-15 mins. I got to spend an 1 hr or two with hair and makeup and he’s laughing at me but it’s all love. We come up with new idea as far as little improvs and that’s what else is cool about that as well. He’ll see me do something then he’ll jump right in . It’s cool that we can read each other’s energy and it feels very organic.
Ashanti has a album coming out soon which will have social media go up in a frenzy. Besides plotting on taking over the chats, she recently made an appearance on the hit show Crashed which is available to be streamed on go90. Check it out by clicking here.