Ashanti (album)

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Ashanti
Ashanti - Ashanti.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedApril 2, 2002 (2002-04-02)
Recorded2001–2002
Studio
  • Crackhouse (New York City, New York)
  • SoundCastle (Los Angeles, California)
Genre
Length61:08
Label
Producer
Ashanti chronology
Ashanti
(2002)
7 Series Sampler: Ashanti
(2003)
Singles from Ashanti
  1. "Foolish"
    Released: January 29, 2002
  2. "Happy"
    Released: May 21, 2002
  3. "Baby"
    Released: August 17, 2002

Ashanti is the debut studio album by American singer Ashanti. Released on April 2, 2002, by Murder Inc. Records and Def Jam Recordings, the album was recorded in New York City and Los Angeles between 2001 and 2002, during the period of time where Ashanti was writing for other artists. Its music has the sound of R&B, hip hop, and hip hop soul. The album features guest vocals from Gotti, Ja Rule, and the late The Notorious B.I.G.. Contributions to the album's production came from a wide range of producers, including Irv Gotti, 7 Aurelius, Chink Santana, Jared Thomas and Reggie Wright.

Ashanti debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 and the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart with first-week sales of 503,000 units, the biggest first-week sales for a debut female artist up to then. The album was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for shipments of three million copies on December 17, 2002. It earned Ashanti three Grammy Award nominations for Best New Artist, Best Female R&B Vocal Performance and Best Contemporary R&B Album, winning in the latter category. Billboard magazine ranked Ashanti at number 100 on its Top 200 Albums of the Decade.[1] The album has sold six million copies worldwide.

The album was promoted by four singles. "Foolish" was released as the lead single from the project and peaked atop the record charts of 15 nations, including the US Billboard Hot 100. Two subsequent singles additionally became top ten charting hits: "Happy", "Baby". She also performed on several television shows and award ceremonies. Furthermore, Ashanti later opened for the North American leg for Mariah Carey's worldwide concert tour Charmbracelet World Tour.[2]

Background[edit]

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 later signed her to a development deal, but, 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.[3] 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.[4]

Ashanti was first noticed by Irv Gotti because of her vocal skills.[5] 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 US Billboard Hot 100 chart simultaneously when "Always on Time" and "What's Luv?" were at numbers one and two, respectively.

Promotion[edit]

The album's lead single, titled "Foolish" was released on January 29, 2002. The song became Ashanti's biggest solo successes to date, spending ten consecutive weeks on top of the US Billboard Hot 100, and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks charts. It was eventually first ranked on the US Billboard Hot 100, and Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles 2002 year-end charts for eleven straight weeks (Tying with Nelly's single "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. "Foolish" was later officially remixed, titled "Unfoolish", with guest appearances from a decease rapper The Notorious B.I.G., was released only just for radio ads.

The album's second single, "Happy" was released on May 21, 2002. The song peaked at number 8 on US Billboard Hot 100, and number 6 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. The single became Ashanti's second top ten hit as a solo artist. It was a moderate success internationally, reaching 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 album's third single, "Baby" was released on August 17, 2002. The song peaked at number 15 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and number 7 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. The single became Ashanti's third top-twenty hit as a solo artist in her career. "Dreams" was released as a promotional single, with a live-performance music video with clips from Ashanti's career.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3/5 stars[6]
Entertainment WeeklyB−[7]
Los Angeles Times2.5/4 stars[8]
Q3/5 stars[9]
Robert Christgau(1-star Honorable Mention)[10]
Rolling Stone2.5/5 stars[11]
Slant Magazine2.5/5 stars[12]

Ashanti earned generally mixed reviews from music critics. AllMusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave it a three-out-of-five-star rating 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 he felt it lacked distinctive material: "It's not bad by any means, and it has its moments, but at 17 tracks, including skits, it all becomes a blur. A pleasing blur, one that shows promise, but a blur all the same."[6] 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".[7] 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".[8]

In another mixed review, Slant critic Sal Cinqueman found that "the songs are infectious and fine-tuned and most of the album is underscored with bristling live instrumentation [...] But tracks like the flute-infused “Happy” are admittedly — and perhaps too obviously — influenced by other R&B divas like Mary J. Blige and rarely give way to anything fresh or new. Ultimately, Ashanti fails to carve a unique niche for the budding singer."[12] Rolling Stone's Kris Ex complimented the album's overall production with its "bass-heavy, slow-burning R&B grooves that sound like everything else on R&B radio" and noted that Ashanti's "voice is the perfect radio-ready R&B; instrument: strong enough to ride over street-savvy beats but unassuming enough to be open to interpretation; better than Britney but less distinctive than Mary J. Blige."[11] Alluding to her previous collaborations, People magazine wrote that "it’s one thing to sing a hook on someone else’s record, quite another to carry your own album, as Ashanti fails to do on this desultory debut [...] Ashanti, with her sweet but slight soprano, doesn’t have the grit and power of [other] divas. It doesn’t help that, despite sporadic sampling [...] lack memorable melodies."[13]

Legacy[edit]

Her debut album earned Ashanti three Grammy nominations for Best New Artist, Best Contemporary R&B Album and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance at the 45th Annual Grammy Awards. The same year, she also received two additional Grammy nominations 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.[1] In April 2002, Ashanti sold 503,000 copies in its first week of release in the United States, becoming a record-breaking feat. It was the highest first week sales for a female artist's debut ever. The album stayed atop the Billboard 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. Otherwise, only The Beatles have achieved this. In 2009, Billboard.com reported that Ashanti has had the most top 10 songs (16 to date) on the R&B/Hip-hop charts by a female for that respective 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.[14] As of June 2012, it is the third best selling physical single of the 21st century.

Commercial performance[edit]

On April 20, 2002, Ashanti debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 and Billboards Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart at number one with first-week sales of 503,000 copies in the United States. On December 17, 2002, the album was certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and remained on the Billboard 200 chart for 55 weeks. Ashanti had sold 3.6 million copies in the United States as of October 2008, according to Nielsen SoundScan.[15] In Canada, it peaked at number 15 on the chart and was certified two times platinum for shipments of 200,000 copies. As of March 2005, the album had sold six million copies worldwide.[16]

Track listing[edit]

No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Intro"
1:25
2."Foolish"
  • 7 Aurelius
  • Irv Gotti
3:47
3."Happy"
  • Chink Santana
  • Irv Gotti
4:22
4."Leaving (Always on Time Part II)" (featuring Ja Rule)
  • Douglas
  • Vest
  • Lorenzo
  • Atkins
  • 7 Aurelius
  • Irv Gotti
3:55
5."Narrative Call (Skit)"  0:36
6."Call"
  • Douglas
  • Vest
  • Lorenzo
  • 7 Aurelius
  • Irv Gotti
5:05
7."Scared" (featuring Irv Gotti)
  • Douglas
  • Parker
  • Lorenzo
  • Chink Santana
  • Irv Gotti
4:43
8."Rescue"
  • Douglas
  • Vest
  • Lorenzo
  • 7 Aurelius
  • Irv Gotti
7:25
9."Baby"
  • Chink Santana
  • Irv Gotti
  • 7 Aurelius*
4:25
10."VooDoo"
  • Douglas
  • Vest
  • Lorenzo
  • 7 Aurelius
  • Irv Gotti
4:42
11."Movies"
  • Douglas
  • Vest
  • Lorenzo
  • Reggie Wright
  • Jared Thomas
  • 7 Aurelius
  • Irv Gotti
  • Wright*
  • Thomas*
4:09
12."Fight (Over Skit)"  1:18
13."Over"
  • Douglas
  • Parker
  • Lorenzo
  • Chink Santana
  • Irv Gotti
5:34
14."Unfoolish" (featuring The Notorious B.I.G.)
  • 7 Aurelius
  • Irv Gotti
3:14
15."Shi Shi (Skit)"  0:14
16."Dreams"
  • Douglas
  • Vest
  • Lorenzo
  • DeBarge
  • 7 Aurelius
  • Irv Gotti
4:18
17."Thank You"DouglasDouglas1:47

Notes

  • (*) denotes co-producer.

Sample credits

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Certifications and sales[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[46] Gold 35,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[47] 2× Platinum 200,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[48] Platinum 200,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[49] Gold 20,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[50] Platinum 300,000^
United States (RIAA)[51] 3× Platinum 3,000,000^
Summaries
Worldwide N/A 6,000,000[16]

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Catalogue no. Label
United States[52] April 2, 2002 CD 5868302 Murder Inc.
Cassette 586830
LP AA3145868301
United Kingdom[53] CD-R N/A

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "Ashanti To Open Mariah Tour". Billboard. Retrieved 2019-04-28.
  3. ^ Daniels, Mark. "Nobody's Fool" Archived February 7, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Amazon.com. Retrieved April 12, 2007.
  4. ^ OnTV Shows | myLifetime.com Archived July 3, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-01-14. Retrieved 2008-09-14.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ a b "Allmusic review". Retrieved August 2011
  7. ^ a b Caramanica, Jon (2002-04-26). "Ashanti Review". Entertainment Weekly: 148. Retrieved 2012-04-09.
  8. ^ a b Hilburn, Robert (2002-04-21). "Many Happy Returns to Form – Page 2 – Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
  9. ^ "Music: Ashanti (CD) by Ashanti (Artist)". Tower.com. 2002-04-02. Retrieved 2011-08-10.
  10. ^ Robert Christgau: Album: Ashanti: Ashanti
  11. ^ a b Ex, Kris (2002-04-10). "Ashanti: Ashanti : Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2007-10-13. Retrieved 2012-04-09.
  12. ^ a b Ashanti, slantmagazine.com. Retrieved August 2011
  13. ^ "Picks and Pans Review: Ashanti". People.com. April 29, 2002. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  14. ^ Hot 100 Decade Songs
  15. ^ http://www.billboard.com/articles/news/1043619/ask-billboard-ashanti-nelly-chate-moore-donna-summer-aretha-franklin-blackgirl
  16. ^ a b "Ashanti Answers Critics & Doubters". Ebony. March 2005. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  17. ^ "Australiancharts.com – Ashanti – Ashanti". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  18. ^ "ARIA Urban Chart – Week Commencing 10th June 2002" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association (641): 14. June 10, 2002. Retrieved April 28, 2019 – via Pandora Archive.
  19. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Ashanti – Ashanti" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  20. ^ "Ultratop.be – Ashanti – Ashanti" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  21. ^ "Ultratop.be – Ashanti – Ashanti" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  22. ^ "Ashanti Chart History (Canadian Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  23. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Ashanti – Ashanti" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  24. ^ "European Top 100 Albums" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 20 no. 33. August 10, 2002. p. 8. OCLC 29800226. Retrieved April 28, 2019 – via American Radio History.
  25. ^ "Lescharts.com – Ashanti – Ashanti". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  26. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Ashanti – Ashanti" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  27. ^ "Charts.org.nz – Ashanti – Ashanti". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  28. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Ashanti – Ashanti". Hung Medien. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  29. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  30. ^ "Official R&B Albums Chart Top 40". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  31. ^ "Ashanti Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  32. ^ "Ashanti Chart History (Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved April 22, 2017.
  33. ^ "ARIA Charts – End Of Year Charts – Top 100 Albums 2002". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  34. ^ "ARIA Charts – End Of Year Charts – Urban Albums 2002". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  35. ^ "Jaaroverzichten 2002 – Albums" (in Dutch). Ultratop. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  36. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Album 2002". dutchcharts.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  37. ^ "Year in Review – European Top 100 Albums 2002" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 21 no. 2/3. January 11, 2003. p. 15. OCLC 29800226. Retrieved April 28, 2019 – via American Radio History.
  38. ^ "Top 100 Album-Jahrescharts – 2002" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  39. ^ "Swiss Year-End Charts 2002". swisscharts.com. Retrieved April 29, 2019.
  40. ^ "End of Year Album Chart Top 100 – 2002". Official Charts Company. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  41. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums: 2002 Year-End". Billboard. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  42. ^ "Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums: 2002 Year-End". Billboard. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  43. ^ "Top Billboard 200 Albums: 2003 Year-End". Billboard. Retrieved April 21, 2019.
  44. ^ "Best of 2000s – Billboard 200 Albums". Billboard. Archived from the original on March 8, 2011.
  45. ^ "Greatest of All Time Billboard 200 Albums by Women". Billboard. Retrieved March 15, 2019.
  46. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2002 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 2017-04-22.
  47. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Ashanti – Ashanti". Music Canada. Retrieved 2017-04-22.
  48. ^ "Japanese album certifications – Ashanti – Ashanti" (in Japanese). Recording Industry Association of Japan. Retrieved 2017-04-22.
  49. ^ "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (Ashanti; 'Ashanti')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. Retrieved 2017-04-22.
  50. ^ "British album certifications – Ashanti – Ashanti". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 2017-04-22. Select albums in the Format field. Select Platinum in the Certification field. Type Ashanti in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.
  51. ^ "American album certifications – Ashanti – Ashanti". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 2017-04-22. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH. 
  52. ^ Sources for Ashanti releases in the United States:
  53. ^ "Ashanti - Ashanti". Discogs. Retrieved 2014-04-28.