HOLLYWOOD — Like the Roosevelt or the Standard, the Harvard House sounds like one of those ritzy Hollywood hotels where stars come to party.
With Ashanti, Paul Wall, Method Man and even the one and only Joey Buttafuoco in the house Wednesday, it had half of the equation covered. It's the ritzy part that the Harvard House could work on.
For starters, the walls are crumbling, the patios bend when more than a few people prance on them and the sign advertising adult movies is nearly bigger than the one with the hotel's name. And then there's the rooms, which look like carpeted prison cells ... with adult movies of course.
"This is something very different for me," Ashanti said as she surveyed the yard-sale furniture dispersed across one of the rooms. "We're in this — oh man — this crud-ball hotel."
And that's the point. Although everyone was having a good time, Wednesday's gathering at the Harvard House wasn't to party, but to work. Video directors the Fat Cats' treatment for Ashanti's new single called for a sleazy hotel and, well, this place more than fit the bill.
"It's kind of like we did the yin and yang," Ashanti said of the video. "We did the grimy, grungy, greasy hotel with the girly, girly shorts and hair done and all that stuff. We wanted to just make the scene as real to the song as possible, and [the song is about] just being confused and you don't know what you're doing. You're sitting in this grimy hotel, but you're looking fly. That doesn't match."
The song is called "Still on It" and it's the first single from Collectables by Ashanti, due December 6.
"The record is basically about you're involved with someone, whether you're a girl or a guy, and it's kinda not the right thing that you're supposed to be doing," Ashanti explained further. "But you keep going back and you're kind of confused 'cause you're just still on it. And I think a lot of people have definitely been in that predicament."
Paul Wall and Method Man both guest on the track. (Buttafuoco, unfortunately, does not, although he was happy to play the hotel's slimy manager and was so dedicated to the role that he took off his white tank top and rubbed it on the dirty ground to look slimier.)
"I've always been a fan of Ashanti's," Wall said after toughing out the rain to shoot his scenes. "Irv Gotti reached out to me and said he had a song he wanted me to feature on, so I went to New York, did my thing in the studio, laid my 16 [bars], and here we are today."
"I always liked Paul Wall [since] when he first came out," Ashanti said, singing a few lines from "Sittin' Sideways." "So when I listened to the beat [of 'Still on It'] I said, 'It sounds kinda New York, kinda bouncy, down South a little bit,' and I was definitely feeling his vibe, so I said, 'Let's get Paul Wall on there.' And we definitely had to have someone from New York represent, and I always loved Method Man."
Collectables by Ashanti is being billed as a remix album, although it's more than just a collection of old remixes. Most were done specifically for the release.
"If you're R&B, when you think of a remix, you think, 'OK, let's put a rapper on it,' but we went into the studio and I said, 'Let's get some joints going,' and with Irv being a DJ, it was really an easy thing," Ashanti said. "I wrote new verses, we did new beats, we have a lot of guests on the album, so I'm really excited about it."
Aside from Wall and Meth, the album features Ja Rule, Caddillac Tah, Charli Baltimore, Free and Black Child. Collectables also features four previously unreleased tracks, including "Still on It."
"Some of them are new and some of them we were supposed to use on Concrete Rose and they didn't make it," Ashanti explained. "One of my favorite records is called 'I Love You,' and I think it's such a big, big record because it's so sincere, it's so genuine and you can say 'I love you' to your puppy, your godson, your mom, your grandpa, and it's such a touching, feeling record."
"Still on It" will ship to radio stations November 21, with the video to follow shortly after.
Collectables by Ashanti track list, according to Def Jam:
- "Still on It" featuring Paul Wall and Method Man
- "Only U" remix featuring Caddillac Tah, Merce, Ja Rule and Black Child
- "I Love You"
- "Rain on Me" remix featuring Ja Rule, Charli Baltimore and Hussein Fatal
- "Still Down" remix featuring Caddillac Tah
- "Show You"
- "I Found It in You"
- "Breakup 2 Makeup" remix featuring Black Child
- "Rock Wit U (Awww Baby)" remix
- "Focus" remix featuring Free