Week Fulla Women in 90s & 00s R&B – First Listen #37: Ashanti’s ‘Ashanti’

Here we are at the end of the first week of the Week Fulla Women in 90s and 00s R&B! It’s been a cool week so far, which I’ll talk a little bit more about towards the end. For now, we gotta spend some time with Miss Ashanti. I HAD to add Ashanti (2002) to my list, off the strength of Ashanti’s vocals on “Mesmerize” and “Always On Time.” Those songs are just SOOOOOOO GOOD. I feel her features on Ja Rule’s songs are the most salient way she exists in my mind, and I figured it was time to listen to more of her solo stuff. She deserves it.

Photo Credit: https://www.theplace2.ru/photos/Ashanti-md424/pic-562066.html

2002: Ashanti

(via Genius)

Ashanti was a solid project overall. I feel like 00s R&B was split up primarily into 3 camps: the neo-soul camp, the hip-hop leaning/traditional R&B camp, and the weird stuff. And this project felt like the quintessential traditional R&B project. Ashanti’s entire look and vibe on the cover (the long sleeve halter top, the thin eyebrows, the jet-black loose beach waves, the bejeweled bikini bottom, and the way she took a page out of Missy Elilott’s book on “how to look like you’re in the inside of a disco ball”), the hip hop features (and the strength of Ja Rule’s raspy voice) are so 2000s that it felt like I was being flung right back into elementary school.

Baby, I don’t know why you’re treating me so bad

You said you love me, no one above me and I was all you had

And though my heart is beating for you, I can’t stop crying

I don’t know how I allow you to treat me this way and still I stay

Ashanti, “Foolish”

The moments that I enjoyed the most on Ashanti were those that reminded me of other early 2000s songs or projects. “Voodoo” was one of those moments, where it reminded me very heavily of Beyonce and Shakira’s “Beautiful Liar.” And at the beginning, I kept getting very strong Mary J. Blige vibes; Per Wikipedia (lol), MJB was one of Ashanti’s biggest musical influences, so that made things clearer. There were definitely moments on this that felt reminiscent of some of Mary’s stuff from No More Drama (2001). I also REALLY liked how this album started. The intro track is basically a quick run through of Ashanti’s previous tracks and features, to kind of give the listener a quick rundown of where Ashanti left off before the music on this project. It was literally just little snippets of songs, but it came together really nice. And part of me wants people to start making intro tracks like this more often lol. It gives veteran listeners a little refresher and gives new artists the opportunity to see what they’re getting into. This would be kind of high stakes because it could turn real corny real quick, but if someone can pull it off, it would be a nice change from recorded voicemail messages.

Similar to Who Is Jill Scott? (2001), my favorite songs on this project are the singles: “Foolish,” “Baby,” and “Happy.” I have probably heard “Happy” somewhere before (probably a couple of times), but I chalked my feelings of the song being familiar to there being an “Outstanding” by the Gap Band sample in there. “Foolish” and “Baby” stayed (and continue to stay) on the radio, so I was very happy to hear them on here. “Leaving (Always On Time Part II)” was also nice; “Always On Time” is one of the most iconic early 00s R&B songs ever (along with “Foolish” and “Baby), so I loved hearing Ja and Ashanti revisit that on this project. “Call” was also a solid track; it was actually the only song I saved to my Spotify library from the project. It gave me strong late 90s girl group vibes (even though Ashanti was the only one on the track lol), and I couldn’t help but CRAVE a Lil’ Kim verse. It seemed like a missed opportunity to have another lady on the song with her.

Great project, though. And a solid ending to the first of two weeks visiting 00s and 90s R&B albums. I think I’m leaving this first week feeling like I got a pretty decent grasp of the scope of R&B music in the 2000s, which I feel like I had before, but listening to full projects makes me feel a little more secure lol. Out of the five projects for this week, Kelis’s Wanderland (2001) was my favorite. I haven’t had the chance to listen to it again fully since Monday – I’ve been trying to listen to other (more contemporary) stuff to cleanse my palate – but I’m planning on revisiting that project again really soon. I love weird and fun sounds, and Wanderland was the project that landed closer to that realm out of the five. Plus, I can’t resist a Neptunes-produced beat (topped with Kelis’s voice). After that, I’d go with India.Arie’s Acoustic Soul (2001) and Jill Scott’s Who Is Jill Scott?; I love the jazziness of those two projects and there are some HITS on both of those. Floetry’s Floetic (2002) would be my next choice, with Ashanti coming after. All really great projects in their own right. I’m happy with this batch of albums. Super excited to take it back a decade and hear more of what was going on in the 90s, after spending some time with the hip hop folks a couple weeks ago.

You can find all the stories from this week here, and the Week Fulla 90s Hip Hop here.

Overall Project Rating

Featured Image Credit: http://www.members.optusnet.com.au/xiaoleon/ashanti.html

(listen to Ashanti on spotify by clicking the image below)

here’s something else you might like…

Week Fulla Women in 90s & 00s R&B – First Listen #36: Floetry’s ‘Floetic’

I had absolutely no clue that Floetry was an English R&B group lol. I guess because it seemed like they were so ever-present in conversations with American R&B artists that I just made an assumption that they were also American. So, I was in quite a shock when I found out otherwise. Life comes at … Continue reading Week Fulla Women in 90s & 00s R&B – First Listen #36: Floetry’s ‘Floetic’

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