Her record label may have dropped the "murder" from its name, but Ashanti insists that nothing will change about her presence at the Inc. — she'll still be killing it when it comes to her music.
Not only does she have a Christmas album that just hit stores (see ""Ashanti Wants To Rock Wit U This Christmas With Holiday LP"), she's also got a remix LP and an accompanying DVD dropping in February, as well as an album of all new cuts due in mid-2004.
"Yes, the name is officially changed!" Ashanti said Thursday in New York (see "Murder Inc. Drops The Murder"). "I think it's definitely a positive thing. Sometimes people would get it twisted as far as what Murder Inc. meant," the singer explained. "Some people were intimidated by it. It was basically just saying that we're murdering the music industry [and that] we're selling records. Basically we've proven that so we dropped it to 'The Inc.' ['Murder'] was kinda hindering a couple of things."
Luckily, negative label connotations haven't hurt Ashanti's popularity with her fans or the music industry. She recently made good on an invitation to perform her hit song "Rain on Me" at the American Music Awards (see "50 Cent, Luther Vandross Take Home Multiple AMAs; Many Artists Skip Out").
"That set was a lot of money," Ashanti said of the backdrop used for her performance of the song, which included fake lightning, a faux tree and lots of H2O. "I'm not bringing that everywhere. I came up with the idea of really getting wet on the stage."
Even though Ashanti anticipated that producers would use enough rain to illustrate the song's title during the show, she had no idea she'd be caught in the middle of a virtual monsoon onstage.
"When I put my head back, oh my god!" the star said giggling, remembering the heavy downpour during her set. "It was beatin' me! I thought I was gonna choke. It was bouncing off my lips. At one part I tried to play it off. I had wiped my eyes very dramatically, but [it was because] I just couldn't see. But it was well worth it because it came out really good."
Fortunately, Ashanti didn't have any harsh elements to battle a couple of months ago when she traveled overseas to act in her first big-screen role.
"I actually just got back from India where I was filming a movie called "Pride and Prejudice," she said. "It should be out next year. Oh my gosh, it's so funny. I'm not [playing] myself but I'm like a singer and I actually have to sing in Hindi. So there's this huge beach party and I'm singing in English and in Hindi. It was so weird when we were shooting. I knew all the Hindi parts but I didn't know the English. My brain is crazy sometimes."
Stateside, Ashanti recently filmed a video with the rest of the Inc. family at the Henderson housing projects in the Jamaica section of Queens, New York. She was shooting the remix clip for "Rain on Me" with Ja Rule, Charli Baltimore and Fatal Hussein. The clip is scheduled to accompany the first release from her upcoming remix album.
"There was so much love out there," she said of the video set. "It was bananas. The remix is hot. It's very rugged. The record is basically talking about positivity and whatever struggles that you're going, [and how] you wanna rise above that. The video is basically showing that even in the gulliest [environment] you can rise to the top." The clip will air in the next couple of weeks.
In the meantime, the sexy performer is going to focus on relaxing and having a bit of fun with her family.
"On Thanksgiving I will definitely be home with all my family," she said. "I'm actually gonna be doing some of the cooking. I like to be home and get all into it with the family and it should be nice. I just got a new house so everyone's gonna come over and spend Thanksgiving together. As busy as I am, I make sure that I'm home those two days. I'm looking forward to that."