An icon in the rhythm and blues scene, Ashanti’s impressive resume of early 2000s hits shot her atop of the charts starting with her timeless classic ‘Foolish’ in 2002. Together with features in Fat Joe’s ‘What’s Luv?’ and Ja Rule’s ‘Always on Time’, she eventually became the second artist after The Beatles who have their first three chart entries in the Top 10 Billboard Chart (or maybe even four, as she sang background and co-written on J.Lo’s ‘Ain’t It Funny (Murder Remix)’ which topped the chart in that same year). As the only girl and only R&B artist on Irv Gotti’s hip-hop label Murder Inc., she proved herself by mixing up the label’s original rap culture with smooth urban vibes like ‘Happy’, ‘Rock wit U (Awww Baby)’ as well as the eccentric piece ‘Only U’. With three album successes (including a Grammy for Best contemporary R&B album for her self-titled debut) and one of the only artists that posthumously got the chance to work both for Tupac Shakur as well as The Notorious B.I.G., Ashanti became the rising millennial star in the R&B scene.
Guilty by Association
Following Murder Inc.’s money laundering scandal and indictment, and a continuous feud with 50 Cent’s G-Unit label, things started to get tricky and scarred Ashanti’s own career. As being ‘guilty by association’, major deals turned their back towards her, and she eventually parted ways with Murder Inc., as Gotti stated: “the relationship has run its course”. Being offered seven major label deals but only 360 contracts, which means a label would have ownership from everything the artist does publicly, Ashanti decided to take an independent route, started her own label Written Entertainment and released her first indie album ‘Braveheart’ in 2014.
From Cîroc to Say Less
Four years later Ashanti comes back, fresh and better than ever, in ‘Say Less’ – the lead single of her yet untitled 6th studio album, slated for a release date later this year. An unexpected single choice though, as P. Diddy invited her to contribute in his Cîroc vodka commercial, and asked for a new track for his marketing project. ‘Say Less’ was randomly chosen by Ashanti, and after receiving positive feedback from fans and critics alike, the song eventually was released in late 2017 on all digital outlets. An R&B club banger, the track offers an old-school flavor while introducing a new modern twist to a new generation of urban listeners. Produced by DJ Mustard (‘Freaky Friday’ by Lil’ Dicky & Chris Brown) and featuring guest vocals by Ty Dolla $ign in a half-rapping, half-singing combo, the track is seen as a homage to West Coast hip-hop.
Pushing a Fan into the Pool
The music video, released on Vevo on April 6, shows Ashanti in a more outspoken side – bashing critics and haters: While sitting in a living room with friends, a turned-on TV shows images of The Wendy Williams Show and Joe Budden’s ‘Everyday Struggle’, criticizing her ‘stripper’ on-stage persona – based on a real-life incident at a concert in Honolulu, Hawaii. During a performance in late 2017, Ashanti called out a visitor for throwing money at her as she shouted: “I am not a f****** stripper”. The incident caught up discussions on news websites, who compared her bodysuit she wore to a stripper ensemble, portraying as if she was shaming the stripper industry.
The video does not talk about that incident but instead uses a made-up scenario about a fan accidentally falling into a swimming pool. As news sites on TV blame Ashanti for pushing a fan into the pool, the video, later on, shows the viewer the actual scene where it is revealed that the fan slipped while Ashanti unsuccessfully tries to save her before falling into the water. The video, therefore, emphasizes how news outlets twist stories, relatable to her own past experiences. Ty Dolla $ign appears in club scenes, while the visual ends with a “to be continued”. Directed by Noyz and LT Hutton, sexy scenes flip with media attacks on the singer. The beginner’s quote says it all: “Honestly, people need to just say less”.
All in all, ‘Say Less’ is the beginning of a new era for Ashanti: The sound stays true to her collection of hit classics while adding more personality and hip-hop beats with a new in-your-face persona. A must for R&B lovers and club goers.
You can check out the video above.