Just as R&B makes a strong mainstream comeback with artists like SZA, Khalid and Daniel Caesar all making waves (and getting Grammy noms) in the genre this year, Ashanti — the OG 2000s Princess of R&B — is sending new music back out into the world. The confident single “Say Less” featuring Ty Dolla $ign is the singer’s first new music since 2014’s Braveheart and features collaborations from Metro Boomin, Tory Lanez, Jeremih, DJ Mustard and more.
The album also marks a milestone for the New York native, as it will be released on her own label, Written Entertainment, after spending years at major record labels since her 2002 hit “Foolish” first catapulted her to fame. We caught up with the singer about being in control of her own image, touring with Ja Rule this past year and how being an industry veteran has its own advantages:
It’s been a a few years since your last album was released. What’s in been like being back in the studio?
I’ve always been in the studio, but now it’s more focused on the actual body of work and putting the album out. But I’m always creating.
Has your process changed much over the years?
Now I’m kind of more open-minded working with other people and just getting newer sounds. Music is changing so fast now. Something that sounds great one month might not sound great in the next three or four months.
You’ve obviously been in the game for a while and are an R&B legend. What’s it like to be an artist in that space, watching the landscape of the genre change?
Honestly it’s a gift and a curse, because sometimes you love being evolved, being grown, being seen and being developed. There was a time where R&B was at a demand high, and then there was a time where techno music kind of took over. Now I feel like there’s a void in records that have merit, soul and feel genuine. I feel like there’s a space for that to come back.
What’s it been like to reconnect with Ja Rule and go on tour with him?
It’s been a lot of fun. We’ve been touring all over the world. I don’t know if it was three years ago, we did our first run in Australia and that turned into an everlasting tour. We we’re supposed to do five weeks together and that turned into two years. We’ve literally been all over the world together.
You had to stop a show recently because people were throwing money on the stage. What happened?
I have no idea! I just think the guy thought he was at the strip club or forgot where he was. I know we were there to put on a show and we had a blast. There’s a section in my show that we call ‘grown and sexy.’ It’s grown and sexy. Yeah we do cool scenes, we keep it sensual and sexual, but the whole act with the money —we’re not here for that. I just felt like it was distracting, because he was throwing money through a couple of records and I was just like, ‘Okay you need to stop.’ I’m actually not a stripper, so. I have love for the strippers, don’t get it twisted. I have a blast in AOD.
It must be such a fine balance as far as feeling objectified as a woman in music versus creating your own image.
There is a line. I think that when you’re an artist, you’re creating art, you’re doing theatrics for your show, that’s what it is. If he wants to go and throw money, then he’s more than welcome to go to the strip club. I throw money in the strip club. No problem. I think that for us with our shows and the theatrics of it, that’s not what it was. We may give you that vibe, but it’s part of an act for a show which is very different than going to the strip club and making it rain.
Talking about your Ciroc campaign, you recently said you liked it because it’s sexy but you felt you were totally in control.
Absolutely. I think I always try to just give the message of being an empowered woman and being able to empower women. If I’m working out in the gym, I’m doing crunches or on the treadmill and I want to put on a sparkly bikini, I’m going to do it. Women should just be proud without having to feel any pressure.
You’re also an actress. Your new film (and musical), Stuck, isn’t even out yet and is already getting great reception.
It’s supposed to be coming out the middle of next year; it’s a really cool concept. It’s about seven different people from seven different walks of life with different nationalities. They get stuck on a subway in New York City in the summer time. You would imagine a lot of different frustrations coming out, stereotypes, and name-calling. What’s crazy is that we shot the film two years ago and at that moment I was thinking, ‘This is a message that needs to be seen now.’ We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.
Clothing Tips Every Woman Needs to Follow
There are certain clothing tips that can spare you a lot of frustration and headaches, so you will need to know what they are. These tips can also make it easier to find beautiful articles of clothing that will be able to look even more stylish. The more time you take to read through these tips, the easier it will be to put together some beautiful outfits that you can be proud of.
Out With the Old and In with the New
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Stretch Your Shoes Out Properly
Make sure that you stretch out your shoes in such a way as to not cause you any pain. Despite what you may think, this is very possible. Simply take two freezer bags, fill then up with water and slide them into your shoes for a few hours. You should be able to notice a significant difference once you take the bags out. If you are in need of new shoes or clothes to go with new ones, you will find the best bohemian style clothing sold here.
Make Sure Your Jackets Fit
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Learn How to Implement Jeans into Your Wardrobe
Too many women just don’t know how to properly implement jeans into their wardrobe, and as a result their outfits end up looking odd and random. It is important that you choose the smaller size if you ever have any hesitation. The last thing you want to do is to buy baggy jeans that are going to look horrible on you. There are many different types of jeans, so you will need to take your time when trying to choose the right pairs to buy. Take the time to try some of the pants on before you take them home.
The more you know about shopping for clothes, the better off you will be. If you want to improve your overall look and self-confidence, it is crucial that you take the time to get this information.
Dunia Batma and Pierres Mano To Collaborate
Dunia Batma, the Arab superstar who has been making international headlines with her success, gave a special shout out to Pierres Mano recently. The star popped into Pierres Mano’s famous shop in Casablanca, in order to converse with the famed Othman Sidqui, a Moroccan jewelry ambassador known for exquisite, unparalleled taste. And true to form, Othman Sidqui gave Dunia Batma a special gift during his visit: a pair of real emerald earrings and a diamond. This gift wasn’t just a way for Sidqui to show his appreciation for Dunia Batma: it was a symbolic gift, intended to represent the finalized collaboration between the two names; a collaboration which is sure to make headlines of its own. The collaboration will formally begin in September 2018, during Dunia Batman’s next tour in the United States. Pierres Mano will be the official jewelry sponsor for this tour–so fans should be ready to see some truly beautiful earrings, necklaces, bracelets and more as part of her tour set.
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