DISCUSSION | Ashanti: Stans Where Art Thou? / by

Singer Ashanti is no stranger to the lime light. She burst out onto the scene over a decade ago. She is also someone who can actually sing and hold her own. Throughout her 10 years in the game, she has seen many things, some good and some bad. She has been through many changes. With a brand new album on the way called "Brave Heart", the songstress has a lot riding on this release.

She has her own label, "Written Entertainment" and she's doing a lot of  things independently. This new album which drops next month could make or break her. Lets dive in and dissect her career leading up to this point shall we? We will visit her earlier days with "Murder Inc" all the way onto this very day. Get into it below.

Ashanti, a Glen Cove, New York native, is still a budding star in my opinion. Even though she has been in the game for years. Even though she has sold over 27 million records world wide. She had a number of fans that were loyal and supportive of everything she did, but the fan base isn't as big as it once was. There was a point in time when Ashanti was crowned the Princess of R&B, she was on top of the Billboard charts simultaneously and was sought after everyone for collaborations. That was just a mere 10 years ago. Now, all is quiet. Not everyone is knocking on her door and checking for her. Why may that be?

Every star fades, and over the past few years, it seems like it has been happening to Ashanti, who hasn't had a hit since 2003. That song being "Rock Wit U (Aww Baby)" after it peaked at #2 on Billboard's Hot 100. After that it's been down hill ever since. Some believe that she reached her peak during the first album's era. During that time, she won all types of awards and set numerous of records for being a female artist for the album "Ashanti". I'm talking 8 Billboard Music Awards, 4 American Music Awards,  a Grammy, and many others. But the awards stopped there. Her sophomore effort "Chapter II" didn't see any awards or nominations. Neither did "Concrete Rose" or "The Declaration". So what differed between the first album and all the rest? Was it her management? The label, the team? Was it the producers and writers? Was it Ashanti herself? Or was it the fans or the fact that she doesn't have any stans? Some of those theories can be easily ruled out. Like her label, simply because during the first four albums, she was still with the same crew. She was still signed under Murder Inc during those releases. She still was with Irv Gotti and co. She also had the same management. She did have different producers and writers for each album. So the content was all kinds of different. Ashanti herself, was still the same. Which leave me with the stans and fans.

During her time in her prime, she was joked about. Comedians had her name in their mouths almost every night when they did their shows. They mainly joked about her over using the word "baby" in a lot of her songs. We all know how very little it takes to influence people. So if you have every comedian down playing Ashanti's lyrical content to thousands of different people in sold out crowds almost every night, please believe that the word will get around and FAST. At first, I only heard comedians say it, then I started hearing it all over the radio, then my friends said it then everyone was saying it. Believe that the song "Rock Wit U" was the very last time she used that word excessively in a song. Am I saying that the reason for her down all is the over usage of the word "baby"? No, I'm not. The point of my saying that was to point out the material and content in the music that she did. People got tired of hearing the same ole thing. Granted, her first two albums are her best albums in my book. The both mirrored each other. It was more like a continuation, hence it was called "Chapter II". It was still some of the same style of music. That would be one of the reasons why it didn't catch much attention because as an artist, there was no growth. Still a great album in my book. But to others, it was just a revamped version of her debut which quickly made fans lose interest in her as an artist.

Now, here's the part when she tried something different and lost a bulk load of her fan base. This is what her third album "Concrete Rose" was all about, being "different" and showing growth. This album was so different that it BOMBED on every chart there was. It peaked at #7 on the Top 200 Albums. The singles that we're released, failed. They flopped harder than fish out of water. All three of the singles did. This album I didn't care for, nor did her core fans which is why they abandoned her. I believe that the mistake her was her trying something TOO different. When I first heard "Only U" I was like.................REALLY? What the hell was she thinking in the studio? I instantly hated it. I hated how she looked, I hated the way she sounded, I hated the video, I hated the choreography,  I hated the production. I hated it all. I still remember the first performance that she gave of the song, and I was like she is really going for it. I was livid and disappointed because this isn't what we as fans wanted. Yes, we do want to see growth, but we don't want crazy! That song and the entire album was out of her league and should have been saved for someone else to destroyed their career.

Then came "The Declaration" of Independence. A brand new album four years later. Some people though time out of the sport light would do the job and get her back on track with her fans but they we're dead wrong. During her break, the world saw the rise of Beyoncé, Rihanna, Ciara, Keri Hilson and more. Each has a very stable fan base and is well known throughout the industry and all over the world. There are stans that will DIE for these woman and defend them to their very last breath. They are called the "BeyHive", "Rihanna Navy", "C-Squad" and "unknown" (Keri doesn't have many fans because of her dislike for Beyoncé). We've seen these stans have all out twitter wars with other celebrities just because something distasteful was said. It's a no brainer that stans can make or break ones career.

If you have stans, then you are at least some what relevant. But if you have no stans, no army to back you up when the world comes crashing down, no army to back you up when you are accused of using a surrogate, no team to back you up when you make a song with the man that beat you into a bloody pulp, then you won't make it very far. Which brings me to another reason why Ashanti's popularity has diminished. She has no stans. I know of one, and I'm sure he's reading this. But that's it. I don't see people defending her on twitter. I don't see people checking for her every move. Even Nelly couldn't help her get more stans. Jay-Z counts for almost some (3 or 4) of Beyoncé's delusional stans. So where are Ashanti's? Why isn't she trending on twitter? Why doesn't she have a name for her fans? Why isn't anyone requesting her new single "The Woman You Love" on the radio or downloading it from itunes? The song is sitting at  #60 on the R&B Charts after being on it for a whopping 8 weeks.

Why isn't anyone buying it on iTunes? The song isn't even in the top 200 in the iTunes store. Believe me, I just checked...TWICE. It's like, she doesn't have a core fan base. That's why at the very beginning, I used the term "budding". The core base is still in development. Yes, she does have fans out there, but she does not have a CORE fan base. If she does, someone needs to open my eyes WIDE because I'm missing it. I'm not a die hard Ashanti fan. I like some of her material, but I'm not one to check for it. Lets use Rihanna for example, this ole ruthless bitch had people all over the world waiting, literally in front of a computer, for her remix to "Birthday Cake". It was the talk of the week. There was so much controversy around it and people was waiting for it. It was highly anticipated. Hell even Billboard penned her an open letter about the song. Most of it was due to controversery, but that's what Rihanna is known for. No one is waiting for Ashanti to drop a remix to her song. No one is waiting for her new album. No one is waiting for her new video. No one is penning her an open letter. And I'm not saying it to be a jerk, but it's the truth. When it comes out, people will like it or buy it after they see or hear it. No one is really "anticipating" anything from her. That's where the stans come in. Again, they will make or break an artist. A stan stands by the artist's side, even if they are dead wrong. A stan supports everything that artist does. A stan will keep you popular and relevant in the business. But how do you get them? How does one obtain a stan. It's simple. Just by crushing everyone in the game.

Ashanti did just that 10 years ago. Like I said, she was on top. She was the one to beat. But 10 years ago, there wasn't any Facebook or Twitter or blogs to help support artists. There was no term "stan". She did it the natural way. She sold millions of records because she was good at what she did. Had that album came out now, and sold millions, she would have stans up her ass and around the corner. But that is not the case. Ashanti simply does not habe any. It sucks for her because she is such a great artist, but in this day of music, you needs a core fan base to keep you moving. Another good example would be Beyoncé. When she released "Run the World", everyone was dumb founded, including her stans when it was release. While some fans turned their heads and didn't support it, those stans went straight to iTunes and bought the song, even though it was pure trash. They stood up and supported their favorite artist. If Ashanti had stans, there should be no reason why her song isn't in the top 200 on iTunes or stalling on the Billboard Charts.

This new album, I've heard a few tracks and they are promising. But, that's only part of the formula. There needs to be millions of people willing and wanting to listen to these promising tracks. There should be an anticipation behind it but I'm not seeing it with "Brave Heart". I think that it's too late for her to obtain any stans right now. She's 31 years old and soon to be 5 albums deep into her career. If you don't have a core fan base by now, then you may as well throw in the towel.

I'm not saying that she won't be successful with this album. Maybe she will reach a personal goal of her own, but I can surly say that this success of this album will be less than stellar. It won't make a big splash on the charts. If it does, then that would be because of the lack of competition. The album is scheduled for an April 17th release date. Same day as The-Dream, Chris Botti, Neon Trees and Train will release their respective albums. I wish her all the best and success with this album. If I'm wrong, then I'm Mr. Wrong. But, to sum up my opinion, I simply feel that without a core fan base at this point in her career, she won't see the success that she deserves with the release of this new album.

What do you think about this topic? Share your thoughts.