Ashanti fans have something to celebrate as the singer just announced that she’s next to hop in the Verzuz ring against R&B singer Keyshia Cole. The two are set to go hit for hit on December 12 just as previous participants Jeezy and Gucci Mane, Brandy and Monica, as well as even Gladys Knight and Patti LaBelle.
It’s been a while since either has released new music of their own. Ashanti most recently has featured on Da Baby and Megan Thee Stallion collaboration “Nasty” off his Blame It On Baby album, as well as her feature on Joyner Lucas’s “Fall Slowly”, which also was assisted by a steamy visual that made fans question whether the two were romantically involved.
With the global pandemic among us and hitting yet another wave, concerts have taken the backseat, leaving many artists without the opportunity to connect with their fans while on stage. Fans have also been missing the ability to see their favorite artists touch the stage to perform their favorite songs.
While the “Foolish” singer hasn’t released an album since 2014’s Braveheart, she’s released a few non-album singles such as 2017’s “Say Less” featuring Ty Dolla $ign and 2019’s “Pretty Little Thing” featuring Afro B. She also has done a multitude of shows in support of her singles whilst performing a set of her previous catalog featuring fan favorites. The singer, just like many of her female counterparts, would wear sexy outfits along with her dancers while performing, which is not uncommon for women artists as they have been doing it for generations.
However, women face the stigma of being “too sexy”, sometimes for argument’s sake because they are simply, women. Ashanti faced a bit of a blunder during one of her performances last year in Honolulu (along with Ja Rule), where a bold fan began to shower her with money during her set, an action usually seen in strip clubs.
Equipped with sexy, sultry choreography, the singer chose random fans to come on stage while she performed. The routine prompted the random fan to begin to throw dollar bills on stage, which caused Ashanti to react by asking the DJ to stop the music. “Imma need you to stop throwing that money,” she exclaimed mid-performance which led to an uproar of cheers. “I am not a f**king stripper.”
Video of the incident swiftly went viral afterward, and TMZ reported that the money throwing culprits were employees at a strip cub called “Ballarrinas” located near the venue where she was performing. The owner of the club, Dyamin Thomas, didn’t take too kindly to Ashanti’s reaction and took to Instagram with one of his own. “WAIT Ashanti ain’t that you in your background video throwing money ?” he wrote. “And aren’t you giving a lap dance? Lmfao .. she ain’t say nothing to me but you gonna pick on the small white boy lol my Dj? Damn.” He concluded the post by saying that action is how Hawaiians show love.
Due to backlash from the incident, she went on Complex show Everyday Struggle to further discuss, and in the midst got into a heated debate with host Joe Budden. “I had on a bodysuit with boots which 90 percent of my peers wear which we perform in. We’re there to do a show. So that’s what you wear,” the singer said. “Strippers are naked. Strippers sometimes they have on thongs, they’re naked, okay, well, their private areas – I’ve never seen a stripper in a bodysuit. I’ve been to AOD [Ace of Diamonds] a month ago, what are you talking about? Is New York the only place that has strip clubs? The point that I’m making to you is I’ve been in a strip club, I’ve seen things, I’ve seen private areas – do I want money thrown at me because I have on a bodysuit?”
Joe, known for his controversial opinions at times, entered into a back and forth filled with rebuttals, before defusing the conversation. “OK, time-out — we were joking,” he responds to her. “Who seriously thinks that you should have money thrown on you [because you were wearing a bodysuit]. What do you think we’re f—g ignorant f—s up here?”
Talk show host Wendy Williams, however, discussed the incident on her segment of Hot Topics, and didn’t have much of a great opinion while also saying that her music “wasn’t relevant”. Talking to her “co-hosts”, the term she affectionately labels her audience, she said, “You know, I get the whole bodysuit thing. The difference is that Beyoncé can come out—or Jennifer Lopez—in a bodysuit with a thong, and all booty showing, and the thigh-high boots and the whole bit, and nobody’s throwing money at her because they understand and respect the hustle.”
She added, “That’s the difference. Ashanti, you are a fledgling artist at best…She’s 40-something years old at this point, nobody cares about her music—37, same difference. And I didn’t call you a stripper, I call you an exotic dancer and I agree with what Joe was saying. Ashanti, just take it for what it is: Nobody’s buying your music, nobody cares about your music. You’ve got a beautiful body and you’re using it to make your bones. And that is the fact, jack.”