In a matter of six years, Ashanti, the Princess of Hip-Hop Soul, has managed to rack up an impressive resume: two number one albums, four top ten hits, and a Grammy. It’s been four years since her last time and just in time for the summer music rush, R&B princess Ashanti returns with The Declaration.
The thirteen-track album is a new Ashanti, taking control over her music career like never before. She is "steering the ship" as she has said before, maintaining her own vision with handpicked producers like Diane Warren, Babyface, Jermaine Dupri and more.
In a one-on-one with the EDGE Ashanti talks the new album, gay in hip-hop and more.
EDGE: I love the song "The Way That I Love". How did that track come about?
Ashanti: I recorded it in LA with LT Hutton, he had just moved into his new studio. I walked in there, he put the beat on and I was like, "Oh my Gosh, this is crazy. I got a pad and I just started writing. It just flowed, it just came out. When I finished the final product I was like wow I think this is going to be a good record. Every time I played it the reaction was the same. Obviously, everyone can relate to getting their heartbroken. Whether you’re female or male, whatever -- I was really, really excited.
EDGE: How do you feel now about that title "The Princess of Hip-Hop Soul"?
Ashanti: I didn’t make that up. I didn’t go around saying that. It was something that kind of happened. I look at it as an honorable thing, but I’m not an arrogant person. I’m cool with being Ashanti.
EDGE: You have a gay following, but do you have any gay people in your inner circle?
Ashanti: I have a cousin, he’s gay, he fills me in with all the lingo-everything, all the fashion, all of what’s hot!
EDGE: A new book just came out called "Hiding in Hip-Hop" about men who are closeted in hip-hop. How do you feel about men who are closeted in the hip-hop industry?
Ashanti: I feel like it’s unfortunate, if you feel you have to hide who you are. I’ve never experienced that and I sympathize with someone that feels like that. But, I can understand why someone would want to hide that in this industry. No hold bar, people are going to say what they are going to say, they are going to form their opinions. They are going to talk and that’s part of the business.
EDGE: Do you think someone could be openly gay in R&B or hip-hop and be successful?
Ashanti: [Laughs] I have no idea... I have no idea.
EDGE: How was it being honored as a young’un at Oprah’s Legends Ball back in 2005?
Ashanti: It was such an amazing feeling just to be surrounded by so many powerful, electric women that have paved the way for us, made history. It was just very overwhelming; it was very emotional. It was such an honor to even be considered. I hadn’t been in the industry that long; I had just come out in ’02 so to get that phone call and to get that recognition, it felt like wow this is such an honor. It was a blessing.
"The Declaration" is in stores this week, Clik here to purchase.