Whatever Happened to Ashanti?
In the early 2000s, radio airwaves resounded with the hip-hop and R&B stylings of artists signed to record label Murder Inc., including artists Ja Rule, Lloyd, and Ashanti. But after the Inc. went bottoms-up, many of those once-big names faded from the scene, the "Princess of Hip-Hop and R&B" herself among them. What happened to Ashanti?
As of 2018, Ashanti is still working with Ja Rule on their "I Love the 2000s" tour. As '90s nostalgia makes fans remember those glory days of R&B, Ashanti during the 2010s has been in high demand. For a time when she first dropped off the main stage, she allegedly abandoned her Inc. colleagues (depending on whom you're asking) and went on to have a few minor hits, but kept pretty busy otherwise. Eagle-eyed fans might notice, though, that rapper Nelly is no longer around. Ashanti's breakup with Nelly was reportedly acrimonious, but the singer has put those days behind her.
Through it all, Ashanti's career path maintained a solid trajectory as she consistently releases music - some on her own label - and even appeared on Broadway. Though early predictions Ashanti would outperform Beyoncé as the queen of the music industry didn't necessarily stand the test of time, Ashanti's been doing just fine on her own.
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She And Ja Rule Inspired A Song In 'Hamilton'
Ashanti and Ja Rule's collaborations helped inspire playwright and musician Lin-Manuel Miranda's musical Hamilton. She and Ja even paired up to record a version of "Helpless" for the Hamilton mixtape.
Miranda told Conan O'Brien he essentially wrote the song for the two, hoping he'd eventually be able to cast them:
When I was writing that song, I was picturing it as Ashanti and Ja Rule. I was like, "Eliza’s Ashanti. Hamilton’s Ja Rule." Two verses, two choruses. A little Ja Rule. And then they’re married.
She Got Into The 'Guinness Book Of World Records'
Ashanti's self-titled debut album is still a record-setter. Ashanti sold 503,000 copies in its first week of release in 2002, making it the quickest-selling debut album by a woman in history. That put Ashanti in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2016.
Of the album's success, she told Vibe, "It’s a really humbling thing, and I feel super blessed."
An Obsessed Fan Stalked Her And Went To Jail
A fan named Devar Hurd stalked Ashanti for 13 years. She took him to court three times. In his final trial in 2016, he claimed his attention was mostly non-threatening tweets about her.
Thankfully for Ashanti, Hurd received a conviction and received the maximum sentence of one to four years in jail.
Irv Gotti Claimed She Abandoned Her Murder, Inc. Colleagues During Their Trial
In the early 2000s, authorities accused Murder, Inc.'s head honcho Irving "Irv Gotti" Lorenzo and his brother, Chris, of laundering drug money through their label. The case went to trial, and while some Inc. cronies stuck close by the Lorenzos during their trial, Gotti claimed Ashanti made herself scarce. She disagreed, saying she happened to leave the label around the same time. In an interview with Hot 97, she said:
Anybody with any sense of logic could see that I rode out. I rode until the wheels fell off. You know what I mean? I went to the trial, I was there, I was filming in Vancouver and in my contract, I wasn’t ever supposed to leave Canada. I came to the court, to the trial, three or four times when I was not supposed to. I was contractually doing what I was supposed to not be doing, paying those round trip tickets to come and support and it’s crazy because me and Irv weren’t even speaking. Like, we weren’t even speaking at all.
Me and Irv, we are, um, there’s no beef... There’s definitely no beef but... I feel like Irv kinda paints a picture of "what happened" with me and Murder Inc., very one-sided. I hear him talk a lot about, "She’s disloyal," and "Oh, she didn’t throw up the M’s and she didn’t do this and that." And I feel it’s time to kinda set the record straight.
In 2005, a jury acquitted the Lorenzos. But the trial was the last straw for Murder, Inc., as they never recovered from the accusations or constant criticisms by rising star 50 Cent.
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She Starred In 'The Wiz'
Ashanti starred in a 2009 production of the classic musical The Wiz at New York's City Center, playing the lead role of Dorothy. Reviews of the show - and her performance - were mixed: Variety called her "sweet and pretty but rarely more than that," adding, "She handles her three big numbers confidently but tends to get screechy as they build."
Meanwhile, BET said, "She captured the innocence of young Dorothy and gave her the sass when needed," while The Hollywood Reporter concluded, "Though the young singer handles her vocal chores ably enough, she never manages to make us care about her character."
Irv Gotti Lied About Having An Affair With Her
In 2007, Irv Gotti claimed that he and Ashanti had a fling while he was still married to his wife Deb. Ashanti consistently denied the accusations, and in 2013, Gotti admitted he'd made up the rumors because, he said, he felt Ashanti had been disloyal and decided to get even:
We made great music together and everything like that, all right?... I never slept with Ashanti. Listen, let me tell you about our relationship - we at Murder Inc. is like a family, like a family... So what happened, when I fell upon hard times and they raided my offices and my life got turned upside down, certain people bailed. She bailed, yo.