The Real Reason We Don't Hear About Ashanti Anymore

Ashanti was everywhere in the early aughts. The singer ruled the charts in 2002 and 2003 when she was signed to Murder Inc. Records. She had one solo No. 1 hit with "Foolish" and one as a featured artist on Ja Rule's "Always on Time," both in 2002. A native of Glen Cove, N.Y., Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas also boasted a No. 2 solo hit with "Rock Wit U (Awww Baby)" in 2003, and two No. 2 hits as a featured artist in 2002 and 2003 with Fat Joe's "What's Luv" and Ja Rule's "Mesmerize," respectively.

She was nominated for eight Grammys in her career, winning one for best contemporary R&B album in 2003 for Ashanti; in 2002 she won numerous Billboard Music Awards, including female artist of the Year, R&B/Hip-Hop artist of the year, and top new pop artist of the year. She even broke a Guinness World Record, selling 504,593 copies of Ashanti in its first week, a record for a female artist at the time. Her follow-up albums, Chapter II and Concrete Rose, each went platinum.

All those accolades and then ... she just sort fell off the radar. Where's she been and why did she disappear? Here are some of the real reasons we don't hear much from Ashanti anymore.

Her record label murdered her future plans

Murder Inc. Records released Ashanti's wildly successful self-titled debut album in 2002. , and it was instantly successful. Dubbed a "music powerhouse" by VH1, the label spawned a massive slew of hits, so when it backed Ashanti as its first R&B signee, she made a beeline for the spotlight. Ashanti debuted at No. 1 on both the Billboard 200 chart and the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The album's first single, "Foolish," became a NO. 1 hit too, spending ten weeks at the top of both charts. Ashanti quickly became a bonafide superstar and released three more albums on Murder Inc. Two of those went platinum.

But Ashanti's future prospects went downhill fast when the label's head honchos were arrested in connection with a major drug sting. According to Spin, the "indictment included charges that [founders Irv and Christopher Gotti] "laundered over $1 million in cash through the Murder Inc. label and other business ventures. Ashanti and the label parted ways in 2009, and the superstar went quiet. Though fans were hungry for new music, she didn't release another album until 2014.

Her PR stunt that went totally off the rails

In 2008, while promoting her album The Declaration, Ashanti released the music video for "The Way That I Love You," in which she murders her cheating onscreen beau. Her team set up a website that allowed users to send fake news reports and warnings from faux detectives about copycat murders inspired by the clip to friends; a questionnaire on the site allowed users to customize the reports to include the name of the recipient as the next likely victim, CNN reported, called "Gotcha Grams."

Unfortunately for Ashanti, it didn't end well for her, and she and her label, Universal, faced a lot of backlash for the stunt, which critics alleged promoted violence more than it promoted Ashanti's record — MTV News reported that there was an actual protest against the exploit in Los Angeles.

Ashanti initially endorsed the violent imagery from the music video in an interview (via MTV News), saying, "It's very cinematic as opposed to a regular music video. I found out my man is cheating on me, and cut to the story, you find him in a bloody tub ... Don't cheat." After the protests, however, Universal said in a statement, "Following discussions with Ashanti, we have jointly decided to remove the website that hosts the Gotchagram. Ashanti and her music have always been about self-empowerment and addressing the issues that are most meaningful to her. We stand by our artist and her creative choices."

Did her own label head try to sabotage her career?

During the height of her fame, Ashanti was signed to the Murder Inc. label, headed by Irv Gotti. In May 2020, Fat Joe shocked Ashanti during an Instagram Live chat when he revealed (via TMZ) that Gotti wanted to have Jennifer Lopez sing the hook on his and Ashanti's massive 2001 hit "What's Luv," citing that the label wished J.Lo and Joe to duet because of their shared Latinx heritage. That was news to Ashanti, who looked shocked. "Yo, I never knew that ... did you know I never knew that? Oh my God," she gasped. "He stayed pulling records and trying to pull records from me. Goddamn!"

In the same conversation, Fat Joe and Ashanti also spoke of her chart dominance of the time period: At the time that "What's Luv" dropped, she had the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 songs on the Billboard Hot 100: "What's Luv," "Always On Time" and "Foolish"—and the No. 4 song was one that she wrote for J.Lo, the "Ain't It Funny" remix.

She built her own label from the ground up

After leaving Murder Inc., Ashanti linked up with Entertainment One to launch her own record label called Written Entertainment in 2011. The venture gave the singer an opportunity to flex her entrepreneurial muscles and reimagine her music career. 

"I'm so excited," she said in a statement (via All Hip Hop). "With eOne as my distributor, I feel that their innovative and ambitious approach to the music industry, really gives my label a worldwide presence. They have the top radio people in the business and are hungry to win! The more I learned the business the more I knew this is what I wanted. Ownership is so important. As a businesswoman this was a great move for me!" In 2014, she dropped Braveheart on her own label. While the album was successful, it didn't garner the level of success she experienced with Murder Inc. and the Gotti brothers backing her.

She battled a convicted stalker for years

We can't blame Ashanti for keeping a low profile, considering the amount of time she's spent in court fighting a man convicted of stalking her. According to TMZ, Devar Hurd was "found guilty [in March 2016] of felony 2nd degree stalking after sending several X-rated tweets to Ashanti and her sister and even [texting] an X-rated pic of himself to her mom." According to Vibe, Hurd was sentenced to four years in prison and won't be allowed to contact Ashanti or her family for five years. 

That verdict followed years of legal battles with Hurd. He was previously convicted in 2009 of stalking the "Foolish" songstress, and arrested again in 2013 for violating strict orders to not contact the singer. According to New York Daily News, Ashanti, her mother, and her sister have had to testify against the "crazed" man multiple times. Though Hurd received the maximum sentence in 2016, the Daily News reported at the time that Hurd "already has nearly three years of time served on this case [and] could be released immediately or soon after going before a parole board." For Ashanti's sake, let's hope he's learned his lesson. 

She diversified her portfolio

You may not be hearing much Ashanti on the airwaves these days, but the talented crooner is still hustling in Hollywood. In fact, she's earned a decent living behind the camera as a film and TV actress. Her roles include a spot on Sabrina, The Teenage Witch way back in 2002, plus appearances on Army Wives, and notable movie roles in Coach Carter, John Tucker Must Die and 2016's Mothers and Daughters. To further diversify her portfolio, Ashanti also launched her own fragrance called Precious Jewel and her own brand of vitamin called the OPC-3 Beauty Blend.

Ashanti may not be making it rain, but she appears to be doing just fine, at least judging by her luxurious social media presence. Here she is riding a WaveRunner in the Bahamas. There she is splashing in the surf in the Dominican Republic. One minute she's kissing a dolphin and the next she's carving her name on a rock in Jamaica. The "Happy" singer apparently travels in style à la helicopters and private plane, so yeah, she's basically aging like a fine wine and racking up those #goals.

Ticket sales for a 2018 show were shockingly low

Part of why Ashanti has been lying low is simply because there may not be a huge demand for her anymore. She was slated to perform at Stony Brook University for their "Back to the Brook" concert in October 2018, but Bossip reports that the event was canceled for low ticket sales — really low ticket sales. The college said in a statement, "As an organization, we do our best to host programs for students while providing diversity and inclusion. However, we have struggled to execute certain aspects. With only a week before the concert, only 24 tickets were sold to students."

In fairness to Ashanti, those shocking numbers may not be entirely her fault. Teyana Taylor was originally slated to headline the event, but pulled out two weeks prior, leaving little time for the university to plan around Taylor's exit and to properly market and promote the show with its new star.

She's tired of getting trolled

Ashanti generally has a positive attitude, but she takes herself very seriously, and it can hurt her reputation at times. For example, in a video obtained by TMZ in November 2017, the performer gave choreographed lap dances during a concert. As a result, some audience members threw cash on the stage. Ashanti stopped the show to scold them, sniping, "Let me tell you something ... I'ma need you to stop throwing that money. I'm not a f**king stripper, OK?" The problem with that? Well, the people she scolded actually were employees of a local strip club, and they didn't take too kindly to her reaction.

Ashanti showed a bit more of a sense of humor a year later. In October 2018, rapper-turned-troll 50 Cent (real name Curtis Jackson, III) mocked Ashanti after her Stony Brook University show was canceled due to low ticket sales. He wrote in a since-deleted Instagram post (via TMZ): "Do basement parties then it can still feel like it's lit." Just days after attacking Ashanti, 50 Cent announced that he'd purchased 200 tickets to one of Ja Rule's upcoming concerts so that the entire front section of the venue would be completely empty. (50 Cent has feuded with Ashanti collaborator Ja Rule in the past.) She later told TMZ, "Officer Curtis better cut it out ... Curtis is definitely a bully."

What's Ashanti up to now?

When she's not collecting stamps on her passport, Ashanti has been setting the table for new music and a new movie. According to a September 2018 report from The Source, she executive produced a musical film called Stuck about strangers stranded on a New York City subway. Ashanti stars in the movie opposite Giancarlo Esposito. While the flick didn't garner the best rating from the public, it definitely showcased that Ashanti's talents don't solely lie in music.

In April 2020, Ashanti ended up snagging another Hot 100 hit. Her collaboration with Megan Thee Stallion and DaBaby, "Nasty," did quite nicely on the Billboard charts, peaking at No. 17. The track sampled her song "Baby" and featured a new verse as well.

The achievement marked a milestone for the chanteuse: According to Chart Data, Ashanti now has had a Hot 100 hit in each decade this millennium so far. Ashanti wrote on the achievement on Instagram, "Super humbled & grateful to have classic, timeless records... 18 years ago today my first album Ashanti hit number one, which featured my 3rd single 'Baby.' Ironically, today the 2020 version of 'Baby' a.k.a. 'Nasty' with @dababy & @theestallion was released & had Me & 'Nasty' Top Trending on Twitter," she continued. "To every artist out there please understand how very important it is to write and get/own your publishing. Thank u guys for all the love."