Music Review: "Braveheart"- @Ashanti

Singer Ashanti made her comeback after an 8 yearlong hiatus from music with her album “Braveheart” released on March 4th. Ashanti’s 5th studio album definitely had a lot of newer hip-hop/r&b/pop influences. Some of my favorite songs were “Love Games” featuring Jeremih, “Scars”, and “Count”. I feel like vocally Ashanti has matured on this album, but I do feel the content in the songs could have been stronger. As I usually point out in my latter music reviews, popular artists who have been around throughout the years (about 15+ years) are turning towards the “turn up” sound creating strip-club anthems in order to remain a level of “relevancy” with newer artists that appeal more to younger audiences.

I like the fact that Ashanti collabed with Kingston, Jamaica dancehall artist Beenie Man with a reggae-fusion styled song called “First Real Love”. It was energizing to hear some new flavor on the album. I feel the song “Scars” was definitely the strongest song off the album and gave the listeners some insight on her former long-term relationship with St. Louis rapper, Nelly. I wish more songs on her album were as strong as “Scars”. With the album being called “Braveheart” and it having a 4-year production phase, I was hoping for some grittier, mature, grown and sexy songs.

 “A lot of people counted me out and that feeds my hunger and ignites my passion to continue my journey, I will continue to thrive, continue to prosper, I will continue to be brave. I am Braveheart.” She states in the introduction of the album. Ashanti mentioned that the 1995 film starring Mel Gibson, “Braveheart” inspired her to name that the title of the album:

The metaphor that I took was basically in the movie you have the Europeans, you have the soldiers from London and the U.K…. They have the big horses, they have the shields, the guns, the weapons… They’re all armored up. And then you have the Scots. They’re all raggedy, homemade weapons, and paint on their faces. It’s not an even playing ground, so I feel like with the [major labels], they’re bossed up. They have the big engine and all the artists signed to them and with the indies, it’s depending. It’s homemade, it’s homegrown. It’s a lesser engine. So the metaphor I was using was being brave and putting your blood and guts into it and fighting passionately to win.”

With that being said, I wish she would have held onto that theme and incorporated more organic, grander sounds within the production rather than solely relying on the hip-hop/r&b sound and even taking a chance with the album art, perhaps portraying a queen or warrior of some sort. I wish there were more monologues on the album and that it was more personal, in regards of lyrical content, without her revealing her personal business to the world. I give this album 3 out of 5 stars. I feel like this was Ashanti’s chance to say “I’m back! Look how much I’ve grown and matured.” This was a decent album, but I’d like to hear stronger songs from her. I’ve been a fan of Ashanti since the “Murda Inc” “Always On Time” days with Ja Rule and Irv Gotti. Hopefully the three could reconnect and make some more classic music reflecting the golden, feel-good sound of the early 2000’s. I’d love to see Ashanti progress more as an artist and really show her edgy, mature side.

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