Ashanti, crowned the princess of hip hop and R&B, has been a force to reckon with in the music industry since her debut in 2002. Her beautiful tone and relatable songwriting skills have not only earned her a Grammy, but also a place in the hearts of millions of fans worldwide. From her self-titled album, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and went triple platinum to her recent works, Ashanti has consistently demonstrated her love for hip hop/R&B for decades.
The star’s collaborations with other artists have often resulted in chart-topping hits, solidifying her status as a go-to feature for hip hop collaborations. Joints with artists like Ja Rule, Fat Joe, Nelly and Plies have not only produced memorable tracks, but also helped popularize rapper and singer duos in the hip hop genre.
Whether it’s her debut single “Foolish” that topped the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 or her features on tracks like “Always On Time” and “What’s Luv?,” Ashanti’s contributions have left an indelible mark on the music industry. Below, you can dive into the list of her best features that have defined her illustrious career thus far.
1. Always On Time by Ja Rule
“Always On Time” is a staple on every 2000s R&B playlist. The track by Ja Rule featuring Ashanti hails from his third studio album, Pain Is Love. The song, produced by Irv Gotti and released as the album’s second single in November 2001, was a huge commercial success. It spent two weeks at the top of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in February and March of 2002, marking Ashanti’s first Hot 100 No. 1 single and Ja Rule’s second.
The success of “Always On Time” also played a big role in launching Ashanti’s solo career. The song’s popularity extended beyond the United States and charted high in several other countries, solidifying Ashanti’s status as a global music icon. The track’s success is a testament to the undeniable chemistry between Ja Rule and Ashanti, which resulted in several other hit collaborations.
2. Mesmerize by Ja Rule
“Mesmerize” was another instant chart-topper in 2002. The song was inspired by Sonny and Cher’s song “I Got You Babe.” At its surface, “Mesmerize” appears to be a love song, with Ja Rule confessing his admiration for a girl and his desire to impress her. However, the song is much more. It is a detailed testament to Ja Rule’s love for the hip hop lifestyle and his long-standing relationship with his fans.
The song was a massive success and peaked at No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart due to the magic between the two Murder Inc. artists, who provided the silky-smooth vocals.
3. What’s Luv? by Fat Joe
“What’s Luv?” was another smash that Ashanti was featured on with Fat Joe. It was released in the United States on Feb. 4, 2002. The song peaked at No. 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in April of the same year, marking Fat Joe’s highest-charting single as a lead artist and giving Ashanti her second top 10 single.
The song stayed on the chart for 20 weeks and also topped the Billboard Hot Rap Tracks and Rhythmic Top 40 charts. Internationally, “What’s Luv?” was also a huge success, reaching the top five in Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. This record, alongside “Foolish,” made Ashanti the first female artist to simultaneously occupy the top two positions on the Hot 100.
4. Wonderful by Ja Rule
“Wonderful” is a track by Ja Rule featuring Ashanti and R. Kelly, released as the lead single from Ja Rule’s sixth studio album, R.U.L.E., in 2004. The song was a commercial success that topped the UK Singles Chart and reached No. 5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
That year was a time of significant shifts in the music industry, with the rise of digital music platforms changing consumer behaviors and music piracy reaching its peak, “Wonderful” still managed to resonate with audiences worldwide. The collaboration between Ja Rule and Ashanti once again proved to be a winning formula, further cementing their status as major players in the music industry during the early 2000s.
5. Down 4 U by Ja Rule, Charli Baltimore, and Vita
“Down 4 U” is a Murder Inc. classic by Ja Rule, Ashanti, Charli Baltimore and Vita that was released in 2002 as part of the Irv Gotti Presents: The Inc. compilation album. The song was an immediate commercial success, reaching No. 6 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart.
The track’s smooth R&B melody and the seamless interplay between the artists’ vocals contributed to its widespread appeal. Its music video, featuring the artists in a luxurious mansion, only heightened its popularity. “Down 4 U” remains a fan favorite.
6. Into You by Fabolous
“Into You” is another classic Ashanti feature, this time with rapper Fabolous. Released in 2003 as a single from Fab’s second studio album, Street Dreams, the song was a major commercial success, and reached No. 4 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and No. 3 on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Songs chart.
Its catchy melody and romantic lyrics struck a chord with listeners, and the chemistry between Fabolous and Ashanti was clear in their performance. Two decades later, “Into You” is regarded as a beloved classic and another 2000s R&B playlist staple.
7. Body On Me by Nelly and Akon
“Body On Me” is a collaboration between Nelly, Akon and Ashanti, released in 2008. The song was a smash that reached the top 10 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. However, one of the biggest reasons it was so successful was due to the ongoing romantic relationship between Nelly and Ashanti.
Her soulful vocals added a layer of depth to the track, perfectly complementing Nelly and Akon‘s performances. The song’s infectious melody and catchy chorus only further solidified Ashanti’s status as a prodigy in the R&B and hip hop music scene. Fifteen years later, “Body On Me” remains a bop – maybe even more so now that Ashanti and Nelly are back together.
8. Want It, Need It by Plies
Ashanti’s collaboration with Plies on the track “Want It, Need It,” released in 2008, showcased her ability to seamlessly blend into different styles. Her sultry, smooth vocals provided a juxtaposition to Plies’ street-style rap and brought a unique balance to the song.
While the track peaked at No. 96 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, it was more than just a chart number. It was a testament to Ashanti’s versatility as an artist. This collaboration was a clear example of her skill in adapting to different music styles.
9. Southside by Lloyd
Last, but certainly not least in the realm of unforgettable features, Ashanti’s feature on Lloyd‘s “Southside” stands out as a shining example of her collaborative genius. Released in 2004, this sultry R&B track showcased a different aspect of Ashanti’s talent. Her voice, both tender and powerful, perfectly complemented Lloyd’s smooth tones, which created a harmonious blend that resonated with fans.
“Southside” not only charted successfully, but it also highlighted Ashanti’s ability to elevate a song with her distinct vocal style. Her contribution to this track was instrumental in cementing it as a classic.