5 Reasons Why Ashanti Should Scrap Her ‘Braveheart’ Album

ashanti-braveheartcover

Nearing 12 years in the music industry, New York native Ashanti has accomplished more than the average R&B artist has in a career spanning more than two decades.

Most notable for lending her voice to hip/hop records like “Always on Time” with Ja Rule and “What’s Luv?,” the singer/songwriter managed to lay her own blueprint for success.

Ashanti-AshantiHer self-titled debut album sold over 500,000 units in its opening week. This broke the record as the most albums sold by any debut female artist in Billboard history, which earned her a place in the Guinness World Records. The album’s hit song “Foolish” helped propel the singer’s career to even higher heights, staying atop of six Billboard singles charts simultaneously.

Aside from notching a multi-platinum debut album, the first-lady of Murder Inc received several accolades for her first project including a Grammy for “Best Contemporary R&B Album” at the 45th Grammy Awards.

She quickly followed-up with Chapter II in 2003 then Concrete Rose a year later, which both earned platinum success for the “Good Good” artist. During a four-year hiatus between her last studio effort, 2008’s The Declaration, Ashanti was featured in films like Coach Carter, John Tucker Must Die and Resident Evil Extinction.

Even while tragedy struck in 2009 with being released from her long-time label “Murder Inc,” she continued to keep herself busy. She landed a role in the Broadway production of The Wiz and was spotted hosting several specials for BET.

With everything Ashanti has accomplished, it’s one tiny thing she hasn’t been able to successful add to her resume. It’s the release of her long-awaited, much delayed fifth studio album Braveheart on her independent label Written Entertainment.

Since the “Foolish” singer has not booked an appearance on Iyanla Vanzant’s “Fix My Life” yet, my efforts will be to offer five blunt and unbiased reasons on the underlying truth to why she should say the hell with Braveheart and move forward with a brand new project.

To help Ashanti and our readers follow more easily, here are the five reasons in bold bullet points.

  1. Dose of irrelevancy 
  2. Lack of strategic planning 
  3. Downfall of Murder Inc (major label)
  4. Where’s the strong lead single?
  5. Bootleg track-list (new life experiences)

First up, a dose of irrelevancy. Let the record show, I do not believe Ashanti is irrelevant. However, to the public eye and her core audience, they beg to differ. Even after being announced the new host of FUSE TV in September 2012 and notching a gig on season seven of Lifetime’s “Army Wives,” her core audience from the days of Murder Inc still aren’t fully interested.

Artists like Ashanti must realize, yes it’s cute for you to do your Hollywood thing but at the end of the day, consumers create boxes for celebrities. If they recognize you as a singer and not for being an actress, it’s hard for them to accept you as the two. Especially when you haven’t been in heavy rotation at the local radio station.

It does not matter if retired 58 year-old Maggie Sue from Alabama is tuned in on Sundays at 9 pm for “Army Wives.” What will take precedence is recent graduate Laurissa Michaels from North Carolina requesting your song on the radio and purchasing your album on its release date.

Not to say Ashanti can’t cash “Trump checks” and enjoy the sweet life of the acting world. But remember, as long as you aren’t using those platforms to relaunch your solo-career, you will always have a dose of irrelevancy to those who appreciate your singing and writing talents.

Second, there NEVER was a strong lead single. Anyone with common sense knows a strong lead single helps garner buzz for a new project approaching.

As 2011 came to a close, Ashanti released “The Woman You Love” featuring Busta Rhymes as the lead single for Braveheart. While it didn’t scream ‘comeback’ for the “Only U” singer, it was a start.

Ashanti-Busta

In March 2012, after less than two months on the Urban radio charts, the song only reached No.31, receiving only 702 radio spins since its entry. Despite the accompanying visuals being released the same month, it failed to help the Jerry Wonda produced track re-enter the chart. Along with under-performing on radio, it only peaked at  No.59 on Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100.

With all this being said and done, fans would have believed Ashanti would have revamped and recollected her thoughts on naming “The Woman You Love” as the official lead single. Maybe if she called the track a “buzz single,” she may have gotten away with it being such an epic fail for the era known as Braveheart.

That’s where the lack of strategic planning comes into play. After the lukewarm response to “The Woman You Love,” Ashanti began doing a number of foolish things – well 12 foolish things.

It was announcing the album’s release date. While the LP didn’t have a strong lead single and wasn’t attracting the attention she needed for the project, she decided the album was ready to be shipped on April 17, 2012. According to Amazon, the album was then pushed back another week to April 24.

However, someone with a ounce of humility in her camp must have whispered to push the album to June 19. After bailing on this release date, according to Amazon, again Braveheart was pushed further back and now was scheduled to arrive August 28.

Buying some time, in early July 2012, the “Concrete Rose” songstress released another tune “No One Greater,” reuniting with long-time collaborator Irv Gotti, enlisting the hottest MC’s at the time French Montana and Meek Mill.

Although the song was announced as the second single from Braveheart, it was never released officially to radio and didn’t receive video treatment.

Guess what happened next. The album was yet again delayed and this time to January 2013. With a four-month gap to redeem herself and figure out her next moves before the album dropped, she premiered “That’s What We Do” a duet featuring her R&B veteran, R-Kelly in October 2012.

While the song was catchy and featured the two singers trading verses of fussing and fighting, it still wasn’t enough to impact any radio stations.

The same month, Ashanti was announced as a feature on Keyshia Cole’s comeback album “Woman to Woman,” on a duet with the same title. We all sung praises as the record being released as a single could have given the “Chapter II” much-needed exposure she needed for her own project.

Nevertheless, those praises were cut short, for the rug under Keyshia Cole’s promotional trek was snatched from under her feet for unknown reasons.

As the new 2013 approached, R&B fans can bet no album delays was one of Ashanti’s New Year’s resolutions. The album then was pushed from January 29 to February 26 and June 4 to June 11.

Ashanti-NSH-Cover

With the pressure on and the bases loaded, Ashanti put on her game face  and released the heartfelt ballad “Never Should Have” in March. It seemed like a perfect timing due to her recent breakup with St.Louis rapper Nelly.

The single performed fair on both Rhythmic (Peak: 44) and Urban radio (Peak:42). Still with random television performances and an accompanying visual, it didn’t help the song reached the success of her earlier hits. Therefore, the album was officially pushed back to July 30. To make matters worse, on the July release date , she released this message via Instagram.

“Hey y’all! So BraveHeart is NOT coming out today we have clearances & legalities to take care of,” stated Ashanti. ““It costs to be the boss!!! This CEO sh#t is Not A Game! Lol looking like September.”

After her informal press release on the status of  Braveheart, it was expected for her to stick to her word and release it already. Nonetheless, according to Amazon, the latest release date for the LP is March 2014 November 19.

I’ve counted 12 delays for this LP and I’ve drawn one thing from all the information collected. Stop informing Amazon about your delays. They pull the curtains closer together on your singing career every time you update them with a new date.

Next, with all five tracks released, either under-performing on radio and Billboard or not charting at all, it would be smart to scrap the those tunes from the track list right? Wrong! Ashanti isn’t going to have her studio sessions to be in vain.

In June 2013, she released the 11-track offering track list (mind you, it’s actually 13-tracks listed, but the intro and outro are just fluff).

Four out of the 11 tracks are set to be featured on the album. Where they do that at? Why would you try to feed your fans music that’s been heard over a year ago? If these are the same records fans didn’t give care about in 2012, what makes you and your team believe they will in 2014?

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Ashanti has been through a lot over the last year with the break-up of Nelly. Why not channel those emotions into a whole new project? Name the album Life After You. Sheesh.

One of the elements of R&B music is pain and heartbreak. Not saying she has to put everything on wax but allow some of those feelings to be put on paper to make some quality music fans can appreciate and actually relate to.

Lastly, the downfall of Murder Inc. Let’s face it, the crew of The Inc Records (previously known as Murder Inc) including Irv Gotti and Ja Rule helped elevate the career known as Ashanti.

With six-albums released under the label and five out of the six either going platinum or gold, it was safe to say having a major label behind her blossoming career did wonders for the “Baby” artist, right? However, after the label suffered several scandals, legal issues, failed label situations and the singer/songwriter’s 2008 release The Declaration became her first LP not to go platinum, it was only a matter of time before the fuel in the sport-car known as Ashanti’s career would come up dry.

In the summer of 2009, Irv Gotti announced he was letting Ashanti go from Inc Records.

“I’m gonna just drop her,” said Gotti to MTV news. “The chemistry of what’s needed — we’re in two totally different places. You’re talking to somebody that took her and shaped and molded her and put her out there for the world, and it blew up. I don’t think she can win.”

Those haunting words have followed the “struggle” songstress for the last four years. She has been unsuccessful in reaching the height of her previous albums or singles and recapturing her position in the R&B world.

Now that these truths have been exposed, my hope is that Ashanti is able to work through, step through, come through and stay through as she attempts to make a breakthrough in her promising career because her fans deserve better.

She just needs to realize she has a dose of irrelevancy, there was no strategic plan for Braveheart, there was never a strong lead single, she doesn’t have Murder Inc (major label) in her corner and she has new life experiences to record a whole new project.

Do you think Ashanti should continue with Braveheart or move forward? 

 

13 Comments

  1. Well well well well…sometimes. sometimes. we should hold our pen before looking like a fool. It looks like she did the right thing. Number 1 Indie album in the country, top 10 Billboard album, and charted high. Life is not easy. Being the BOSS is not easy. Maybe you should reach out to her and ask for an interview (smile).

    1. No, I don’t look like a fool. She took a few pointers I provided in the article. She revamped her tracklist, she go some type of strategic plan for the album and used some of new life experiences to pen this album. Still she doesn’t have a strong lead single but if you read my album review, I admitted I doubted her. So….yea.

      1. I think the review was a little unfair based on this was her first attempt at going indie. She could have held all information close to her vest, but she attempted to be open and honest. Her entire album is superb. The subliminal writing on 3 Words has to be the best so far this year. Not one female artists in her group has taken this type of risk. This was a big risk for her. It would be nice if this web/blog would do an interview with her. In reality, she is really the first RnB female artist to step out and go independent. I am not talking about artists that were forced to do so because of no deals on the tables. We know she had deals on the table and walked away from them. Now, I want to see how many will take this chance when their record contracts end. And, yes I read where you gave her kudos, which was really cool!

      2. One other thing. Many artists, especially big name female artists had hinted at owning their own label…The first being Diana Ross. She established Ross Records back in the eighties. She probably was the first of the big name female artists attempting to head down this path. I am sure it was way more complicated back in the days than now. I have seen Jody Watley launch her own company and become one of the first to learn how to harness social media. But, of the younger female artist….Once, again Ashanti did this first. I am sure a few other artists are now sitting up and counting the money they could have gotten by going indie (smile). I just want to see who truly has the BRAVEHEART to do so! (smile).

      3. think the review was a little unfair based on this was her first attempt at going indie. She could have held all information close to her vest, but she attempted to be open and honest. Her entire album is superb. The subliminal writing on 3 Words has to be the best so far this year. Not one female artists in her group has taken this type of risk. This was a big risk for her. It would be nice if this web/blog would do an interview with her. In reality, she is really the first RnB female artist to step out and go independent. I am not talking about artists that were forced to do so because of no deals on the tables. We know she had deals on the table and walked away from them. Now, I want to see how many will take this chance when their record contracts end. And, yes I read where you gave her kudos, which was really cool!

  2. I think the review was a little unfair based on this was her first attempt at going indie. She could have held all information close to her vest, but she attempted to be open and honest. Her entire album is superb. The subliminal writing on 3 Words has to be the best so far this year. Not one female artists in her group has taken this type of risk. This was a big risk for her. It would be nice if this web/blog would do an interview with her. In reality, she is really the first RnB female artist to step out and go independent. I am not talking about artists that were forced to do so because of no deals on the tables. We know she had deals on the table and walked away from them. Now, I want to see how many will take this chance when their record contracts end.

  3. I think that Ashanti’s should reunite with irv gotti n and ja rule if possible flip the script and put them on her label find that chemistry again and make magic in the studio she should have me help. Assist her as well

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5 UK R&B Artists to Watch in 2018

Here at Rated R&B, our mission is to deliver interesting and engaging content on the R&B genre of music. R&B talent comes in many different shapes and sizes and sometimes comes from different countries as well. You’ve heard of Jessie J, Marsha Ambrosius, and Daley, but in this piece, we’re going to put you on the game to the most exciting up-and-coming R&B artists in the United Kingdom. With voices that liken to Ariana Grande and Eric Bellinger, there’s surely an artist on this shortlist that’ll pique your interest. Check out our list of the 5 R&B UK Artists to Watch in 2018 below:

Mabel McVey UK R&B Artist 2018

Mabel McVey

Polydor Records-signee Mabel came in with a bang in 2017 when her hit single “Finder’s Keepers” reached the Top 10 on the UK Singles chart. The song, which features rapper Kojo Funds, also peaked at No. 2 on the UK R&B Singles Chart. Her breezy vocals, pop radio appeal, and charming style are on trend, and she already has found Top 40 success in her latest collaboration with UK artist Not3s entitled “My Lover (Remix).” If you like what you hear in the video below, check out Mabel’s 2017 EP Bedroom, which is available on all digital platforms.

Angel UK R&B Artist 2018

Angel

Angel’s career blasted off with a string of hits in 2012, including UK Singles Top 10 earner and UK R&B Songs chart-topper “Wonderful.” Now signed to Motown Records, the London-born singer dropped consistently catchy tunes in 2017, including the SWV-interpolated and Eugene Wilde-sampled “Take You Home.” If he can continue this upward trajectory and his formula of mainstream sounds with a 90s R&B twist, Angel could very well land a solid radio hit by year’s end.

Jorja Smith UK R&B Artist 2018

Jorja Smith

Jorja Smith was one of the buzziest artists of 2017 thanks to her features on Canadian rapper Drake’s multi-platinum album More Life. In addition to her criminally underrated summer collaboration with Kali Uchis called “Tyrant,” Smith also made some noise this past year with her 90s underground-esque banger “On My Mind.” Her knack for showing vulnerability whilst keeping her alluring mystique has set her up for riding off into the sunset of success in 2018!

Jacob Banks UK R&B Artist 2018

Jacob Banks

Banks broke big in 2014 for his assist of Chase and Status’ “Alive,” which peaked at No. 21 on the UK Singles Chart. Banks’ gruff and smoky vocals have been used in promotions across the globe, including popular sports game “FIFA 15” and popular TV shows like STARZ’s Power and USA’s Suits. After the release of his 2017 EP The Boy Who Cried Freedom, Banks is more confident than ever and ready to make a splash in 2018.

Ella Mai UK R&B Artist 2018

Ella Mai

Ella Mai might be the most recognizable name on this list, and that’s because this woman has been working! After a stint on the 11th series of X Factor UK in 2014, the singer signed with DJ Mustard’s 10 Summers label. She’s released not one, not two, but three EPs in a year’s time, and was recently one of the featured acts on Kehlani’s 2017 “SweetSexySavage World Tour,” which ended its run in November. Now working on her debut album and kicking off 2018 with a fresh single, Ella Mai is just one hit away from her big break, and if her current sound and relatable lyrics have anything to do with it, then she is well on her way.

Who’s your favorite artist on this shortlist? Let us know in the comment section below!

From 2008: R&B Albums That Turn 10 This Year

Another ten years has caught up with us in the realm of R&B music.

Let’s jog your memory for a minute. For starters, 2008 saw Mariah Carey touch the top of the Billboard Hot 100 for the 18th time with “Touch My Body.” Usher showed his strength by “Moving Mountains,” while Beyoncé led ladies to the club, singing, “If you liked it, then you should have put a ring on it.”

We heard the debut projects from Day26, Jennifer Hudson, Tiffany Evans and Jazmine Sullivan. Also, 2008 ended listeners music drought from veterans Deborah Cox, Ashanti, Keith Sweat and Brandy.

Rated R&B has compiled a list of 31 R&B/soul albums that celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2018.

Randomness: On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama won presidency, becoming the first African-American to be elected as President of the United States.

Raheem DeVaughn — Love Behind the Melody
Release Date: January 15
Record Label: Jive Records
Singles: “Woman,” “Customer” and “Text Messages”

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Top 10 R&B Albums of 2017

2017 started off kind of slow with R&B releases but quickly picked up as the year progressed. There were a good amount of newcomers like SZA and Daniel Caesar who made an impact on their debut projects. We also saw comebacks from R&B vets like Bell Biv DeVoe and Xscape. The Rated R&B editorial team has compiled a list of the top 10 albums of 2017.

Check it out below (please note: these are in no particular order).

Chante Moore – The Rise of the Phoenix

Chante Moore has taken “50 and Fabulous” to another level with her seventh solo studio album The Rise of the Phoenix. Her artistry has aged well over the course of her 25-year career, as she sounds “Moore” confident than ever. While the LP covers the entire spectrum of love, the album’s upbeat, feel-good tracks stand out the most for their radio appeal and contemporary sound. The album’s current sound doesn’t come at the cost of Ms. Moore’s vocals, as she showcases her range (including whistle tones!) on her most tender ballads of regret and vulnerability. Even the interludes deserve a playback! Chante Moore simply delivered, and if you just can’t get enough of this album, then her latest Christmas album should carry you through every holiday season to come. — Nathan

Standout Selections: “Something to Remember,” “Offa-U,” “Saving Grace,” “Pray,” “I’d Be a Fool”

Daley – The Spectrum

Daley is probably one of the most underrated R&B acts out now. Known for his spacey R&B sound, the British singer adds a little color to his sophomore effort, The Spectrum. Feel-good songs like “Sympathy” and “Slow Burn” will have you dancing to the rhythmic production. But don’t let that fool you, though. There are vulnerable moments of heartbreak (“Until the Pain is Gone”) and self-reflection (“True”). — Keithan

Standout selections: “Until the Pain is Gone” feat. Jill Scott, “On Fire,” “Sympathy” and “Second to None”

SZA – Ctrl

Insecurities, fear, and doubt may permeate the lyrical content of this body of work, but SZA is more artistically reassured than ever on her breakout record Ctrl. Sonically gorgeous, the album not only sounds better with each listens, but it feels better with each listen as well. Over time, you’ll find yourself liking songs you didn’t like before and loving the ones you initially did even more. It’s evident that SZA is still adjusting to the overwhelming response of praise for her debut effort, but as the only female R&B artist to find major urban mainstream success this year, it’s simply par for the course of success. If she continues to ride in her own lane, there’s no telling what destinations she will reach by the end of her musical journey. — Nathan

Standout Selections: “Broken Clocks,” “Garden (Say it Like Dat),” “Wavy (Interlude) [feat. James Fauntleroy)” and “Go Gina”

Daniel Caesar – Freudian 

A product of the black church, the Toronto-born R&B singer’s debut album, Freudian, is very much rooted in gospel influences — from the piano-driven sound to solid backing vocals from a full choir. While there is much celebration of love on this album, there are also songs of regret and sorrow, as if Caesar is grappling with his own personal struggles with religion and theology as it relates to a past love. Perhaps, this is why he chose to name his album Freudian. — Nathan 

Standout selections: “Get You,” “Best Part,” “Blessed” and “Hold Me Down”

K. Michelle – Kimberly: The People I Used to Know

K. Michelle has never been one to hold anything back, but on Kimberly: The People I Used to Know, she unveils every inch of herself in an unprecedented unapologetic fashion. The album kicks off with her rapping obscenities and concludes with one of her most soulful records to date – and in between lies an ode to James Brown, a timely Debarge sample-led criticism of mainstream media’s treatment of black women, a jazzy dose of shade to Kirk Frost (and his three or four earrings), and back-to-back country ballads. While this may sound musically sporadic, the flow of the album is quite natural and effortless. Her heart may lie in country music, but she knows how to make a solid R&B record; This is certainly her first album with multiple viable radio singles.The People I Used to Know is less about switching musical lanes and more about shifting artistic gears as the album progresses — leading the Memphis-bred songstress down the road to one of the most complete R&B works of the year. — Nathan

Standout Selections: “Takes Two” feat. Jeremih, “Crazy Like You,” “Giving Up on Love,” “God, Love, Sex, and Drugs”

Mary J. Blige – Strength of a Woman

Capitalizing on her divorce news and cringe-worthy moments that logged the past five years of her personal and professional existence, Mary J. Blige wore her troubled emotions heavily on sleeves of Strength of a Woman. Beginning with a powerful opening track that revisits Blige’s hip-hop soul roots and yields her first-ever music union with Yeezy, Strength scales between claiming back the power she regretfully hid behind the love for her estranged husband-manager to now recognizing how resilient she is well beyond her celebrity status. Blige even found time to be the right amount of petty and unleash a high dose of saltiness topped with sweet revenge over trapsoul instrumentations ushered in by a new school of hungry music tasters like Camper and Prince Charlez who wanted to see her win again. — Antwane

Standout selections: “U + Me (Love Lesson),”  “Set Me Free” “Survivor” and “Telling the Truth” featuring Kaytranada

Ledisi – Let Love Rule

Shining a fully charged flashlight of hope, Ledisi tunnels her way through all love’s madness on Let Love Rule. Even though the New Orléans native has the voice of an angel, Rule doesn’t digest well on the first or second listen. I say this not bash or discredit Ledisi’s musical abilities but to say, if you’re a frequent radio listener, this album won’t impress you. This record isn’t chasing the minute, ready to serve sounds of R&B. It’s an album that increasingly ages after each playback. With Let Love Rule, Ledisi uses this collection of ballads and melodic compositions to educate hearers about social injustices, how to present in your relationship and the power of waiting for the stars to align in your favor. She doesn’t do half bad either. — Antwane

Standout selections: “Here,” “All the Way,” “High” and “Us 4 Ever” featuring BJ the Chicago Kid

Tamar Braxton – Bluebird of Happiness

Bluebird of Happiness may universally signify prosperity, joy, and delight but Tamar Braxton’s album version has a far deeper meaning. Absorbed by samples from the yesteryears of R&B, the youngest Braxton sister uses her definition of Bluebird to share the private wounds from her dissolving marriage from Vincent Herbert. Balancing the dark and light colors of musical tones, this solid recording not only hears Braxton harping on the foulness of love but finding moments to celebrate its presence and all its other glorious wonders. While being fully against Braxton calling it quits as a solo artist, Bluebird of Happiness definitely leaves a lasting impression in the hearts and minds of her loyal Tamartian fans – for now. — Antwane

Standout selections: “The Makings of You,” “My Forever,” “My Man,” and “Wanna Love Me Boy”

Tank – Savage

Serving as the follow-up to 2016’s Sex Pain & Love II, Tank takes an aggressive approach on Savage. He instantly hooks listeners with the title track before taking them on a musical journey through the bedroom with songs like “When We” and “F It Up.” The album isn’t just about sex, though. There are moments when he’s just singing about love, whether it’s the good times or trying to rekindle an old flame. — Keithan

Standout selections: “When We,” “Good Thing,” “Do For Me” and “Nothing On”

Jhene Aiko – Trip

After making a false start with her 2016 single “Maniac,” Jhene Aiko made a strong recovery with her second studio album, Trip. Released with no prior announcement, the 22-track LP is Aiko’s open diary that uncovers some of her most vulnerable moments. From dealing with the death of her brother to breakups, Aiko takes her listeners on an emotional rollercoaster through love, pain, depression, and happiness. Trip may be her most raw and honest project to date. — Keithan

Standout selections: “Sativa” featuring Swae Lee, “While We’re Young,” “New Balance” and “OLLA” featuring Big Sean

Sabrina Claudio – About Time
**honorary mention**

OK, About Time may technically be a mixtape but Sabrina Claudio certainly made it feel like an album. Laced with angelic harmonies and mesmerizing lyrics, About Time finds Claudio singing about…time (literally). “During the process of writing these songs, I was worried about time for some reason,” she said. “And it didn’t have to do with a relationship — maybe just career-wise I was worried about time and it translated through my music.” — Keithan

Standout selections: “Belong to You,” “Frozen,” “Natural” and “Stand Still”

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