Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas, 13 October 1980, Glen Cove, New York, USA. For urban R&B singer Ashanti it has been a case of third time lucky. Her honey-toned voice and striking looks landed her a recording contract with Jive Records at the age of 14, then again with Epic Records at 17, but neither of those deals came to fruition. It was when she was noticed by Murder Inc. mastermind Irv Gotti that Ashanti began to blossom. Gotti noted her dancing and acting abilities in addition to her vocal skills (she had previously appeared in the Walt Disney television musical Polly). Ashantis first musical outing under Gotti was a guest vocal on the track How We Roll by Big Punisher. She then appeared in a series of duets that made her a stateside star in March 2002. She was Ja Rules counterpart on the hypnotic Always On Time, provided the chorus to Fat Joes Whats Luv?, and married her vocals with the late Notorious B.I.G. for Unfoolish. During this month Ashanti held three of the Top 10 positions in the Billboard chart, including numbers 1 and 2 with Ja Rule and Fat Joe, while her own Foolish climbed to the top of the charts in April and remained at the top until the end of June. As if that was not enough her self-titled debut album sold 500, 000 copies in the USA in its first week of release. Mostly written by Ashanti herself, the album was unusually soulful for a Murder Inc. act, while retaining a street sensibility that helped it to worldwide popularity.
Ashanti enjoyed further success with her follow-up album, Chapter II, debuting at the top of the US charts in July 2003, and spawning the Top 5 hit single Rock Wit U (Awww Baby). Nevertheless, sales of the album were a fraction of those achieved by her debut, and with Murder Inc.s rapidly escalating problems (the label was being investigated for money laundering) the singer was forced to keep a low profile, although she did release a seasonal collection at the end of the year. She bounced back in November 2004, appearing alongside R. Kelly on Ja Rules transatlantic hit single Wonderful. Her new album Concrete Rose reached the US top 10.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.