There's no doubt about it, Ashanti, Ja Rule, and the music of Murder Inc. had a serious hold on early 2000s pop culture.
And then, suddenly, Murder Inc. fell from grace. Ashanti stepped away from the limelight for years, distancing herself as much as possible from the Murder Inc. crew.
Now, in an interview on the Angie MartinezIRLpodcast, Ashanti finally opened up about her departure and why Murder Inc. CEO Irv Gotti might have felt the need to spread numerous lies about their alleged romance.
In case you need a refresher, the decades-old drama intensified again back in August, when Irv Gotti appeared on the Drink Champs podcast with Ja Rule and had a lot to say about Ashanti — including using derogatory slurs and claiming they had an intimate relationship 20 years ago.
Which is why Ashanti sat down with Angie to clear some things up — and she immediately set the record straight. "Let’s clear this up. We’re not gonna say relationship. We dealt with each other, but was Irv my boyfriend? Was I his girlfriend? Never…Irv had several girlfriends, so I’m a little confused by the label and the description.”
Early in the interview, Ashanti claimed Irv Gotti was straight-up lying about the nature of their relationship. “You know, like, you may think that it’s something and the other person knows that it’s not, and you manifest this thing into something big and it’s really not that. And then when that person finally realizes that it’s not that, it turns them into a completely different person."
Ashanti stood in her truth, rising above the vitriol that was thrown her way. “Irv has flat-out lied about a lot of things. And the crazy thing is, when we were in a good space, a positive space — pillow talk is a dangerous thing, and there are so many things that I know. I don’t have the desire to expose certain things. I’m happy, I’m in a different space … I don’t play in the mud.”
According to Ashanti, Irv's falsehoods didn't stop there. In a clip that's now circulating the internet, he claimed on Drink Champs that Ashanti's 2002 hit song "Happy" was created after the pair slept together. Ashanti remembered the song's inception very differently.
“I’m trying to figure out, like, what made him even say that. Was I there? I’m confused. I don’t remember this at all. I wrote ‘Happy’ in the parking lot of a C.W. post college. I was actually on the way to see The Nutcracker with my aunt and my cousins in my 626 Mazda."
“It’s weird. It’s very weird when you know you’re lying and you just keep lying. That’s where it becomes a little scary and a little mental because it’s like, ‘Dawg, we can see [the lies].'”
Ashanti added that the nature of their relationship had a much darker reality of control. “I definitely feel like manipulation played a heavy part into me and Irv’s situation. He would say stuff like, ‘No one wants to record with you, nobody fucks with you like that.’ On one hand, he would make it feel like family-family-family, and on the other hand, he would tell me, ‘Nobody even likes you.’"
In an attempt to pinpoint when it all went wrong, Ashanti said, “Irv was salty! Irv would not let me come to the studio to record. Irv was telling everyone not to record with me. Why do I want to stay in that situation? How can I stay in that situation? You know what he said to me? He said, ‘Nah, you want to be with Nelly? Go sign to Derrty Ent. We don’t want you.’ What am I supposed to do?”
Through it all, despite Irv dragging her name through the mud, Ashanti still attempted to show him respect, saying, "He 100% helped to change my life."
“I feel like Irv is just hurt and he doesn’t know where to place his hurt and he doesn’t know how to channel it as a man. It’s sad."
“I genuinely, in my heart, believe that Irv wishes death on me. A million percent.”
We'll keep you updated if anything more unfolds, but for now, you can watch Ashanti's entire Angie Martinez IRL podcast interview here.