Ashanti S. Douglas looks like anything but a girl who cavorts with criminals, yet in her new video for "Foolish," she's practically married to the mob and, in real life, she's down with Murderers.
"Irv [Gotti] came up with the idea of shooting the ['Foolish'] video like the movie 'Goodfellas,' and it relates so perfectly because [of] what I'm talking about in the song," Ashanti, Murder Inc.'s first R&B act, said on the set of the video for her first single last month. "You're foolish in a relationship and you keep running back to the guy 'cause you are in love with him."
"I kind of took a risk," Gotti, Murder Inc.'s CEO and director of the "Foolish" video, said last week. "Your classic R&B video is performing. I shot some gangsta sh-- with this R&B person. The reason why I'm doing that? I'm going to be the supreme dictator on Ashanti's project.
"I'm gonna take women as a given for [buying] an R&B record, but I wanted [guys] to love it," he continued. "I wanted to get me excited, where I would buy it. I want dudes to pioneer Ashanti."
The fellas have already been a major catalyst in the Glen Cove, New York, native's blowup. In 2000, she sang the chorus for Big Pun's "How We Roll" off of his posthumous LP Endangered Species, radio darling Ja Rule gave her major exposure with a guest spot on "Always on Time" and Fat Joe is doing the same with his hit "What's Luv?"
"We're actually the first ones to use [Ashanti] on a record," Joe said. "That was, of course, through Irv Gotti. He was like, 'I got this new artist, she's dope, let's put her on the Pun song.' Once I heard her, I was like, 'She's incredible.' Her new video is incredible. Her song is beautiful. I expect big things from Ashanti. I hope everybody goes out and supports her, because she's a beautiful person."
Unfortunately for Ashanti — whose LP, also titled Foolish, drops April 9 — she came across a not-so-lovely dude in her past, yet she's using it to carve out her own niche by singing about heartache on her first single. If it was up to her, "Foolish" might have never been made. She was hesitant to use the musical backdrop that was most recently heard on the remix to the Notorious B.I.G.'s "One More Chance." (Fittingly, when her remix to "Foolish," "Unfoolish," drops in a few weeks, a Biggie verse will be included.)
"It wasn't my idea at all," clarified Ashanti, who also has writing credits on Jennifer Lopez's "Ain't It Funny" remix. "Actually, I didn't even want to do it. I was like, 'They did that already.' But Irv was like, 'Trust me. It's gonna be hot.' Biggie did it, and it was hot. It was a smash record, and you're not supposed to touch smash records. But it's working out well."
"It's just a testament to Biggie," said Gotti, who produced most of Ashanti's album with 7 Aurelius (see [article id="1452317"]"Ja Rule, Ashanti, Other Murderers Still Don't Give A ..."[/article]). "Biggie killed it so much. [The track samples] 'Stay With Me' from DeBarge, but everybody knows it as Biggie. What I wanted to do with Ashanti is, I wanted a safe bet. Meaning, as soon as that beat comes on in the club, you're gonna get a 'Whoa!' We're gonna make it into an anthem for women over this nice familiar beat we know is a classic. It was a safe bet, and it's working like a charm."
Something else that's going to work like a charm: Ashanti gives all her songs one-word titles. Even if the material isn't memorable, the names should be. Besides her favorite track, "Rescue," listeners will hear cuts such as "Over," "Bullet," "Baby," "Call" and her second single, "Happy."
"Another secret to Murder Inc. is, we're second-single people," Gotti said. "You could date this back to [Ja Rule's] Rule 3:36. When he came out with 'Between Me and You,' it was cool. Then he came out with 'Put It on Me,' and it was over. Now you look at Ashanti. 'Foolish' is getting it crazy, but just know the next single — I'm gonna put my foot in everybody's a--."