The astronomical ascension and collapse of Nelly’s some-timey boo Ashanti’s career have bewildered industry pundits for quite some time.
Within a period of just 6 years – from 2002 to 2008 – the former Princess of R&B has fallen from the triple platinum success of her self-titled debut to barely selling 200k copies of her last album, ‘The Declaration’.
Although there is no obvious reason for the decline of Ashanti’s popularity, many agree that it coincided with the explosive arrival of Beyonce the solo artist – who is simply a better singer, dancer and performer – and the crumbling of the Murder, Inc. empire.
However, regardless of all that has happened, there are many who cling to the hope that Ashanti will return to relevance. Still, the key question that arises from this situation is this: what type of sound will she need to accomplish such a career revival?
Ashanti is quintessentially a contemporary R&B artist. Comprising clever Hip-Hop samples, radio-friendly beats and R&B melodies, her music stems from the sound perfected and popularised by Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey in the 1990’s.
Yet, in an era where Dance/Pop has become the dominant genre and R&B artists including Usher are quickly abandoning their roots in an effort to remain successful, Ashanti may be forced to adopt a new approach. On the contrary, that may not be a wise decision.
The music industry is arguably more competitive today that ever before. Where Ashanti mainly faced direct competition from acts such as Brandy, there is a wave of new artists against whom she will have to battle against for space at the top of the charts. Of course, there is no other arena more heated than Pop music where Britney Spears, Rihanna and her nemesis Beyonce reign supreme.
Hence, the best decision may be for Ashanti to preserve her R&B sound and strive for success in a field where she has known previous glory. Judging by the success of her last top 40 single on the Billboard Hot 100, ‘The Way That I Love You’, which peaked at #2 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in 2008, there is certainly some demand for her music in the Urban market.
With improved vocal ability and astute writing skills, there is no reason why Ashanti can’t forge a comeback on the R&B charts. She may not achieve the multi-platinum success of her younger years but if she is able to accomplish another gold album as well as a string of Grammy Award nominations like Monica, she will still be victorious in her quest to impact music in some way and return to a position of prominence.
What type type of sound do you think Ashanti needs to revive her career? R&B or Pop?