In 1998, Irv Gotti and his brother Chris started a record label called Murder Inc. Records. JaRule was signed to the label, and they quickly turned him into a worldwide star. Rule has sold more than 30 million albums and made more than $500 million so far. With that much success, it was clear that the company would want to put out another act to go with it. Ashanti walked in. Her soft voice and classic beauty made her a good match for JaRule’s rough and tough style, and they started having hits together right away, like “Always on Time,” “What’s Luv?” and “Down for You.”
Ashanti would become a huge star on her own, breaking records with her first album, which was called “Ashanti.” She was the first woman to have two songs at the top of “the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart at the same time”. Her hit “Foolish” and the song “What’s Luv?” by Fat Joe and JaRule were at number one and number two, respectively. She was also the first artist since The Beatles to have all three of their first songs chart in the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. Ashanti also wrote hit songs for Jennifer Lopez and JaRule, which helped her become even more well-known in the music world.
Murder Inc looked like a happy family on stage and in their music videos, but behind the scenes, things were a bit messy. Irv Gotti has said publicly that he and Ashanti had an affair at one point while he was still married. In 2019, Gotti told people about this on an episode of Growing Up Hip-Hop. He hinted that he and Ashanti were not getting along well before a Murder Inc. meeting. Deb Lorenzo, who is now his ex-wife, said in her confessional that Irv met Ashanti while she was still married to him.
Gotti has given stories that don’t match up over time. He told Funk Master Flex at one point in 2017 that he dated Ashanti after his split. In other appearances, he said that they had never dated or even touched each other. Ashanti has never said anything about it.
Nelly was the only person Ashanti really dated in public. The two started dating in 2003 and kept their relationship quiet until about 2008, when they started making public appearances together. After that, they went out for four more years before they finally broke up. Ashanti has never said exactly why they broke up, but she has hinted that he treated her in a way that she could not forget. During an interview, she called him a “coward” and said she had been “betrayed.”
Irv has once again talked about his time with Ashanti and shared new facts. On Drink Champs, he talked about how, over time, he was able to “get past” Ashanti’s desire to be with Nelly. But he does say that she hurt him and that he was “in love” with her. Gotti says that he didn’t know that Ashanti and Nelly were dating until he saw it on TV. “God wanted me to find out,” he said as he told how the couple walked into a sports arena where he was watching basketball and made so much noise that the speakers had to talk about them.