Ashanti has officially broken her silence about having an affair with Irv Gotti in the early 2000s. She was the only woman and R&B singer signed to Murder Inc. Records in 2003 during the peak of its success. The vocalist worked closely with her label mate, rapper Ja Rule, but she had an undeniable connection with the label’s CEO.
Gotti has frequently talked about his affair with the “Happy” artist, including during a recent appearance on “Drink Champs.” He described it as a full love affair despite being married at the time. But while speaking with Angie Martinez, Ashanti explained that he over-emphasized and “flat-out” lied about a lot.
“I definitely had a genuine love for Irv because he 100 percent helped to change my life,” she said during an interview on Martinez’s “IRL” podcast episode released on Oct. 25. “I had some of the most amazing times just writing records, touring, making history. Like having chemistry with somebody to write these records with.”
Gotti is 10 years older than Ashanti, who just celebrated her 42nd birthday last week. She said she was never his girlfriend and that he had “several” while married to Debbie Lorenzo.
The Grammy-winning artist was accompanied to the interview by her mother, Tina Douglas, who sat out of the camera’s view. She can be heard saying she believes he took “advantage” of her as a young artist back then. Due to their age difference and all that has transpired, Martinez asked if she had any regret about their affair.
Ashanti said, “There is some regret because again me being the gullible Suzie or the naive Nancy thinking that someone is a good person and they’re coming from a genuine place in their heart. Sometimes I regret believing in that person and believing that they really meant what they said.” She continued, “I definitely feel like manipulation played a heavy part into me and Irv’s situation.”
The “Foolish” singer claims the 52-year-old would often put her down by telling her that no one liked or wanted to work with her. She hinted he was possibly threatened by her growth as a woman and as an artist. It wasn’t until years later that she found out that everyone wanted to work with her.
“And then when I did start to evolve and get in the studio with certain producers, I would hear all the time, ‘We always reached out. We always wanted to f— with you. We thought you didn’t want to f— with us.’ And it was like wow,” she shared.
Ashanti insists he had a “conquer and divide” mentality in regard to her working with others in the music industry. She says their romance turned sour after his deliberate attempts to tarnish her career and threats to those around her.
“I don’t even know if I should say this… there were threats,” she admitted. “There were threats, you know, me dealing with Nelly. There was death threats.”
The “Rain on Me” singer said she wasn’t sure how serious Gotti was, considering he was “personifying” a tough gangsta image. She insists the threats were “not towards me but towards who I was dealing with. Like, ‘You keep you doing this, I’mma …'” She said, “Manipulation definitely played a part. Power … flexing … throwing your weight around.”
In 2006, Murder Inc. signed a joint-venture deal with Universal Records. Ashanti said she put a lot of work into her last major-label album, 2008’s “The Declaration.” Meanwhile Gotti “took a large percentage and did absolutely nothing.”
“At that moment, his feelings were more important than the business,” she added before blaming the music veteran for the demise of Murder Inc.
Later in the interview, Ashanti recalled Gotti consistently saying things to her like “I made you” and “I made the world want to f— you.” She said it was a “scary” feeling like someone had control over her career, while she considered how she would provide for her family.
The actress and author accused Gotti of trying to “s— on’ her with his controversial remarks on “Drink Champs.” She believes he still has feelings for her that he has yet to let go.
“I feel like Irv is just hurt and he doesn’t know where to place his hurt and he doesn’t know how to channel it as a man. It’s sad,” she expressed. “I genuinely, in my heart, believe that Irv wishes death on me. A million percent.”