UB Celebrates: 15th Anniversary of Ashanti’s Debut

Ashanti exploded on the scene in early 2002. The classically-trained dancer, actress and singer was discovered by Murder Inc.”s Irv Gotti, who first placed her on a track with pioneering South Bronx rapper Big Pun back in 2001 on “How We Roll.”

Ashanti later showed up with a track of her own on the soundtrack album of the first Fast And the Furious movie (“When A Man Does Wrong“). Towards the end of the year, Ashanti was featured on “Always On Time,” the #1 R&B/#1 pop first single from Def Jam artist Ja Rule”s triple-platinum third album, Pain Is Love.

Just a couple months later, Ashanti made her chart debut as a lead solo artist with “Foolish.” With Ashanti‘s clever lyrics and slick production by Murder Inc.’s president Irv Gotti, “Foolish” immediately reminded music lovers of the Notorious B.I.G.‘s classic “One More Chance” remix. True old school heads will remember the familiar melody from DeBarge‘s 1983 hit “Stay with Me.”

A few weeks later (in early February), Ashanti was back with a third single, as she was featured on Fat Joe”s “What”s Luv.” One month later in March, the stars aligned as all three singles converged inside the top 10. Irv Gotti then readied a remix of “Foolish,” titled “Unfoolish,” that featured the Notorious B.I.G. and again overtook urban radio, where no artist was more present throughout 2002 than Ashanti.

Ashanti made Billboard history by having her first three chart entries all land in the top 10 of The Billboard Hot 100 at the same time. She is the first female to accomplish this feat and only second to the Beatles to do so.

Ashanti”s self-titled debut album was released on April 2nd, and debuted at #1 on both the R&B and pop album charts, setting an all-time sales record, for a new female artist in the Soundscan era, with over 503,000 + units in its first week out. Last year in 2016 she officially became an Guinness World Record holder, for the Fastest Selling Debut Artist (female).

The album included two more top 10 R&B/pop crossover hits, “Happy” and “Baby.” The album stayed on the charts for more than a year and turned triple-platinum.

The album generated nearly 20 major industry awards – beginning with Billboard”s year-end roundup as Female Artist of the Year, Top New Pop Artist of the Year, Hot 100 Singles Artist of the Year, R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year, R&B/Hip-Hop Female Artist of the Year, New R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Year, and R&B/Hip-Hop Single of the Year (“Foolish”).

Ashanti‘s debut album is full of ‘one-listens‘ like “Foolish’,” said an exuberant Gotti at the time, whose passion for the project is palpable. Ashanti, penned all 12 songs on the album and most written on-the-spot in the studio. “I want to create something so real and reflective that people just sit back and listen like, ‘damn, was she in my window last night, because this really happened to me.” Ashanti stated in her label biography.

Everyone has gone through something that’s on this album, and I want to be able to articulate their feelings.”

With cuts like “Happy,” “Baby” and “Rescue,” which detail the ins and outs of relationships, the precocious Long Island native is sure to make her mark with streetwise sophistication.

Before signing with Murder Inc. Ashanti trained as a dancer at the Bernice Johnson Cultural Arts Center, learning a number of dance styles. She danced most notably in Disney‘s Polly, which starred Phylicia Rashad, and also appeared in a number of big-name music videos, in addition to other dance work.

Ashanti‘s already well established track record had already placed her on the sweet road to success. (Ja Rule’s “Always On Time” broke history as Def Jam’s top selling single. Her contribution to J. Lo’s “I’m Real” helped give the former fly girl-turned-actress-turned-singer urban credibility.)

Over the last decade, Ashanti has appeared in a number of films (Coach Carter, John Tucker Must Die, Resident Evil 4), television shows including the 2013 season of “Army Wives” on Lifetime, recorded four more albums, penned a book of poetry, starred on Broadway as Dorothy in “The Wiz” and launched her own fragrance, Precious Jewel.

Ashanti owns her record label, Written Entertainment, and her 2014 album “Braveheart” was the #1 Independent album in the country on the Billboard charts making it her 5th consecutive album landing in the top 10 on the Billboard 200 album chart.

Our TMH/UBG Ashanti fansite from back then – ashantionline.com

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