Billboard magazine ranked Ashanti at number 100 on its Top 200 Albums of the Decade. Ashanti mentioned on Ustream that she planned to re-release the album for its 10th anniversary in 2012. She planned on adding tracks such as "Down 4 U" and "The Pledge" to the album which were huge hits in 2002 the same time "Foolish", "Happy" and "Baby" were on the charts.
When Ashanti was 14, she was discovered by P. Diddy's Bad Boy Records. Initially, she went to Bad Boy Records and sang one of Mary J. Blige's songs in front of P. Diddy and Biggie Smalls. After being impressed by her singing ability, Diddy had her sign to a development deal. In the end, due to a bad contract, Ashanti did not sign with Diddy. This ultimately led to a record deal with Jive Records in 1994. This relationship soured when Jive tried to make Ashanti into a pop singer. Ashanti subsequently involved herself in schoolwork, cheerleading, and running on her school's track team. She was an honor student in English and belonged to the English club where she began writing poetry. She was also in the Drama club and performed in a few plays. She put college pursuits aside when Epic Records approached her with a contract in 1998. However, the label's management changes quickly made Ashanti a low priority. She continued to perform at local New York clubs and began hanging out at the Murder Inc. recording studio, hoping for another big break.
Ashanti was first noticed by Irv Gotti because of her vocal skills. Ashanti initially asked him to produce a few demo songs for her to record so she could say she had some strong tracks by the big time producer but Gotti had a different idea. He asked her to pen hooks for his rap artists and to perform with them in duets. Ashanti provided the melodic response to their call. Ashanti was first featured as a background vocalist on rapper Big Pun's song "How We Roll". In the same year, Ashanti was featured on fellow labelmate Cadillac Tah's singles "Pov City Anthem" and "Just Like a Thug". She also appeared on the 2001 The Fast and the Furious soundtrack as a featured artist on rapper Vita's 2001 hip hop remake of Madonna's "Justify My Love" and on the solo track "When a Man Does Wrong". She appeared as a background vocalist on "I'm Real (Murder Remix)", a collaboration by labelmate Ja Rule and Jennifer Lopez (she also appeared in the music video for "Aint It Funny (Murder Remix)", the second duet between Lopez and Rule, for which she wrote and also sang background vocals on), and was featured on Fat Joe's "What's Luv?" and Ja Rule's "Always on Time". "What's Luv?" and "Always on Time" were released simultaneously and became two of the biggest hit songs of 2002. Ashanti became the first female artist to occupy the top two positions on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart simultaneously when "Always on Time" and "What's Luv?" were at numbers one and two, respectively.
AllMusic gave the album a positive review and praised the "modern, post-hip-hop soul" sound, stating the album has "fairly fresh beats and lightly insistent hooks, and is just naughty enough". However, the site felt it lacked "distinctive material".Entertainment Weekly commended the album's "coy hooks" and "jagged-edged rappers", continuing to say "her voice is supple and pretty but rarely rises above a whisper, making it a background instrument even when it's Ashanti's turn to shine". The Los Angeles Times had a mixed view of the album, writing "Ashanti's breathy, cooing vocals are well suited to the mellow mood of this collection", however was unimpressed because it was not "substantial".
The album earned Ashanti three Grammy nominations for Best New Artist, Best Contemporary R&B Album, and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance. Ashanti also received two additional Grammy nominations in the same year for other projects, both in the category of Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Ashanti took home a record 8 billboard awards, winning all the categories she was nominated for. Billboard magazine ranked Ashanti at number 100 on magazine's Top 200 Albums of the Decade. Ashanti sold 503,000 copies in its first week of release in the USA in April 2002, a record-breaking feat. It was the highest first week sales for a female artist's debut ever. The album stayed atop the Bilboard 200 for three consecutive weeks. In the same week, she became the first female performer to simultaneously hold the top two places on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart with "Foolish", and "What's Luv" (with Fat Joe). She broke records again by having three Top Ten songs (Foolish, What's Luv, and Always on Time (with Ja Rule)) on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in the same week. Only The Beatles have achieved this. Ashanti wrote and sang background on the song "Ain't It Funny" sung by Jennifer Lopez, which was also in the top 10 charts at the same time as "Foolish", "Always on Time" (with Ja Rule), and "What's Luv" (with Fat Joe) so the singer actually had four top 10 singles in the top ten. (2009) According to Billboard.com, Ashanti has had the most top 10 songs (16 to date) on the R&B/Hip-hop charts by a female this decade. The album's lead single was named the 19th most successful song of the 2000s (decade), on the Billboard Hot 100 Songs of the Decade. As of June 2012, it is the third best selling physical single of the 21st century. It sold over 8.2 million copies to date.
Ashanti debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart on April 20, 2002, and Billboard's Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart at number one with first-week sales of 503,000 units sold. The album was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America on December 17, 2002, and remained on Billboard 200 albums chart for 55 weeks. Ashanti has sold 3.6 million copies in the United States alone, according Nielsen SoundScan. Worldwide, the album sold over eight million copies. In Canada the album peaked at fifteen on the chart and was certified two times platinum for shipments of 200,000 copies.
Ashanti spawned three singles: The album's lead single, "Foolish", became Ashanti's biggest solo successes to date, spending ten consecutive weeks on top of the U.S. BillboardHot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart. It was eventually ranked first on the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles 2002 year-end charts for eleven straight weeks (Tying with Nelly's "Dilemma", but not for eleven straights weeks). It was a breakthrough hit internationally entering the top five in the United Kingdom, the top ten in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany and Japan and the top twenty in Switzerland and the Netherlands. Follow-up single "Happy" peaked at number eight on Billboard Hot 100 and number six on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The single became Ashanti's second top ten hit solo. It was a moderate success internationally, it reached the top ten in the Netherlands, the top twenty in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and the top forty in Australia, Ireland, Switzerland, and France. The third single "Baby", peaked at number fifteen on Billboard Hot 100 and number seven on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The single became Ashanti's third top-forty hit solo. The fourth single was "Unfoolish", released only for radio ads. No video, although a video was planned as a conclusion to the "Foolish" video. The fifth, and final single was "Dreams", which was released as a promo single with a live-performance music video with clips of Ashanti's career at that point.