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Page 1

 Ashanti says "Whateva!" to Irv Gotti when he claims he wrote her whole album ...

Page 2

 Irv Gotti has a falling out with his Murder Inc. princess ...

Page 3

 Ashanti gets dissed by the G-Unit, but her skin is like wood ...

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 Ashanti In The Studio

 On The Set Of Ashanti's "Rock Wit U (Awww Baby)" Video Shoot

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Ashanti has her naysayers. They'll tell you the Long Island, New York, native should never have been given a chance by those A&R reps because she doesn't have any real talent. Like many of her peers, Ashanti has taken all of the criticism that comes along with getting love: "She can't sing live," "She keeps doing the same old two-step," "All she does is recreate songs that were already hits." The Inc.'s princess has heard them all.

The Hatorade was flowing so fast at one point, there was even an online petition floating around because people were up in arms about Ashanti receiving the Aretha Franklin Lady of Soul Award last year.

The bad-mouthing hasn't only been contained to those outside the music industry — the singer has also been the butt of some of the punch lines in the dis records between Murder Inc. and the G-Unit. "Ashanti's sideburns is thicker than mine," Lloyd Banks rhymes in "What Goes Around" from DJ Envy's Blok Party album. The singer dismisses it all as coming with the territory.

  "When you get into the industry, it's a cold world, ole girl."
"It's almost like you're warned, 'When you get into the industry, it's a cold world, ole girl,' " she shrugs. "My skin is like metal. It's like wood. You can't let things get to you because you'll crumble. The industry is vicious, it's full of sharks. It's cold. You have to rise above it and keep it moving and keep your focus. Once you let people know that 'You're gonna hurt my feelings,' they're gonna keep attacking. Unfortunately people don't like to see other people rise. That's a terrible thing."

The most dreadful and serious words directed at the Inc. camp the past few months have not come from fans or industry insiders, but from the federal government. The talk has the potential to do more than just hurt feelings or bruise egos — it can change lives and alter careers. Agents say that Irv Gotti and some of his employees have been helping to launder drug money made by Gotti's good friend Kenneth "Supreme" McGriff. In January the Inc.'s offices were raided by the feds, and some of its equipment was seized. An affidavit was recently released further detailing the label's alleged ties to the narcotics underworld.

"I wish that it would cease," Ashanti says about the controversy surrounding her team. "It's very unfortunate. I hope it's peaked now. Who wants to be bothered with all that? I have nothing to do with anything. I don't want my guys involved with anything. We're peaceful people, it's all about the peace."

Although Gotti, who has proclaimed his innocence to MTV News, has not been formally charged with any crime, if the accusations were ever to be proven true, Ashanti's label and subsequently her career could be drastically affected. But, much like her boss, she isn't showing any signs of being shook.

Still, the singer is facing much more than the sophomore jinx this time around. With the Inc.'s possible legal woes, a murky future for her labelmates Caddillac Tah, Charli Baltimore and Blackchild, and the company's biggest star, Ja Rule, taking a six-month hiatus to give the fans a break from him, the immediate fate of "The World's Most Talented Label" lies on the petite shoulders of its 22-year-old songstress.

"Honestly, I don't think there's more pressure," she says about her upcoming LP. "I feel a little bit at ease almost, because we found a formula with what we wanted to accomplish. I'm so content with everything that happened during the last year ... that I don't think there's really anything that can upset me. I'm cool. Of course I want the second album to surpass the first one, I want it to be a hundred times better, but that's a lot to ask for because the first album — thank God — was very successful."

With the success has come a few perks — Ashanti is now always welcome behind the velvet rope, where she recently met one of her idols.

"I met her in London at a Halloween party, which was hilarious," Ashanti says about how she first crossed paths with Mariah Carey. The legendary high-note hitter has tapped Ashanti to open up her Charmbracelet tour, slated to roll out this summer. "I heard she's down here in Miami. I want to hook up with her."

Little does she know that her wish is about to come true.

As the Inc.'s championship game ends, no one notices that down the way in the vacant spot reserved for Ms. Carey there is now a black stretch limo. No one except Irv, who has popped his head out of the studio to take a short break. He walks down and greets Mariah, who has on some very short shorts and sandals.

"That's appropriate," Carey says, pointing to Gotti's T-shirt, which reads "America's Most Wanted" across the chest. After their meeting, I.G. quickly gets Ashanti and her mother. This milestone won't be charted by Billboard or SoundScan, but judging from the huge smile on her face and warm embrace she gives Carey, this is a milestone that Ashanti will cherish with all the ones that have gone down in the record books.

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Photo: Murder Inc.

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 Ashanti Album Preview

  "Rock Wit U
(Awww Baby)"

Chapter 2
(Murder Inc.)

 Ja Rule featuring Ashanti
The Last Temptation
(Murder Inc.)

 Ja Rule featuring Ashanti
"Always On Time" (live)
Urban Aid 2

 Fat Joe featuring Ashanti
"What's Luv?" (live)
Spring Break 2002

(Murder Inc.)

 Fat Joe featuring Ashanti
"What's Luv?"
Jealous Ones Still Envy

 Ja Rule
featuring Ashanti
"Always On Time"
Rule 3:36
(Murder Inc.)

(Murder Inc.)

(Murder Inc.)

(Murder Inc.)

featuring Notorious B.I.G.
(Murder Inc.)