Ashanti Talks 15th Anniversary of Her Debut Album, Fav Ja Rule Collab & More
R&B singer and part-time actress Ashanti sat down for an interview with Billboard, where she spoke about the 15-year anniversary of her debut self-titled studio album, as well as her favorite collaborations with good friend Ja Rule. She also shared how she was able to get a Notorious B.I.G. verse for Unfoolish (Foolish Part 2).
Released on April 2, 2002, Ashanti debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart with first-week sales of an impressive 503,000 units, the biggest first-week sales for a debut female artist. The album was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipments of 3,000,000 copies on December 17, 2002. The album was supported by three singles: Foolish, Happy and Baby.
Ashanti is currently prepping the release of a new song titled Lose Yourself, which may serve as the lead single for her new studio album. Take a look at a few of the excerpts from the interview and
click here to read it in full:
ON ASHANTI’S RECORDING PROCESS: “I would say one of the best memories would be when I wrote the bridge for “Foolish.” First of all, I was surrounded by rappers. I was with Irv and those guys, and no one believed that I wrote my records. They used to make me write at what used to be called Crackhouse Studios on Mercer and they used to make me write in front of them, because they were like, “There’s no way” [I was writing these songs]. So when I wrote the bridge and Irv came back and he heard it, he was screaming, running around the fifth floor of the Crackhouse. Everybody was like, ‘Oh my God. This is crazy.'”
ON GETTING B.I.G. FOR FOOLISH PART 2: “So me and Irv went to Puff [Daddy]’s office to meet with [writer/songwriter/producer] Harve Pierre. Harve had the jack with the vocals, and was like, “Yo. You got it. We’re gonna do it.” I was like, “Oh my God.” Irv went and grabbed the jack and put it in his pocket like it was a piece of gold. He ran out of the office, ran back to the studio, loaded the vocals up, matched everything, and it was just crazy how everything just matched up. It was perfect and it just flowed. It was great. Puff co-signed it. He loved the record. It’s funny, because you know, I was supposed to do a deal with Puff before Murder Inc. I was like 14 so we had a little bit of history already. It was an amazing feeling to have a B.I.G. verse on my first record as the official remix.”
ON HER FAVORITE JA RULE COLLABORATION: “‘Down 4 U’ I would say is one of my favorites. It was a dope record and we had Bobby [Brown] and Whitney [Houston] in the video, which was crazy. Obviously, “Always on Time” [is another], one of our biggest records. Again, that was really supposed to be for Brandy. She turned it down and I gladly took it. [Laughs] At that time, I was super early in the game. I didn’t know what the politics were, but I was in the studio and they were like, “Yo. Let’s have ‘Shanti do it.” And that was history in the making.”
ON JAY Z LOSING HIS FEATURE: “I don’t know if this story ever made it out, but, initially, Irv had called Jay Z to come and rhyme on the bridge of “Foolish.” Jay was in motion. He was in the car and on the way to the studio to record it with me. Then Irv called him back like 10 minutes later, like, “Yo. Never mind. She needs to do this by herself. I don’t wanna do typical R&B songs featuring a rapper. I want to do something different. She’s going to hold this whole record on her own.” That’s what we did.”