Ashanti’s BraveHeart: Bravery or Hubris?


If I had been expecting the ‘00s label-crowned “Princess of hip hop and R&B” to provide her “Now That’s What I Call Music” generation fans with a new album 20 years after her debut, this is exactly what I would expect. With BraveHeart, Ashanti has traded in J Rule and TI for the likes of French Montana and Jeremih. In another switch-a-roo, every song on this new album is rated “explicit”. Is our 33-year-old "Unfoolish" singer going through her rebel phase? All jokes aside, I’d say this is listenable, but really not that great.

To be honest, I was underwhelmed. I never really regarded her as anything of an incredible lyricist, but this is downright disappointing. With lines such as “like Usher, we both had it bad” and “I try to make it work, but I just end up hurt / I tell you it's okay cause I don't wanna leave / But you make it so hard for me to stay so I run away”, this is the kind of stuff pre-teens would write during those terrible, dark, hormone-rampant days of puberty.

In a terrible turn of events, our pubescent Ashanti grows into an overly-attached, broken-hearted girl. In "Don’t Tell Me No", she downright invites a past love (Nelly?) to use her as a booty-call: “And if you want me / You know that if you want me / You can call me baby / Hit me, hit me however you want to.” Thank goodness that her fanbase has already matured past the age that they would view this as an acceptable way to conduct their relationships.

Don’t even get me started on how her title is in reference to the Mel Gibson historical action film...

TIME magazine: Does your album Braveheart have anything to do with the Mel Gibson movie?

Ashanti: Kind of. The title is self-explanatory. It’s being brave and having heart in whatever it is you do. But the metaphor that I used was that, in the movie, the Scots have homemade weapons and paint and they’re barefoot. But their drive and their passion was undeniable. They came for war. And they ran onto that field fearless. I feel like that’s the position I’m taking, coming from a major record label to an indie and having my own record label and doing it on my own. I think it symbolizes where I am now.

So Ashanti is declaring war on major record labels? Stay tuned.

The best thing I have to say about this album is: at least she’s consistent. From "Intro to First Real Love", Ashanti is pretty reliably a broken, pleading, girl whose affection can be bought with either money or alcohol.

My favorite song on the album: "She Can’t".

It’s the only song I can really tolerate… I can see some shower-singing value

Worst song on the album: "Count".

Actually, what is this song? It’s like a terrible knockoff of Rihanna’s Birthday Cake. On top of that, she announces that if you give her enough to drink you might “get a pass at this”. What?

In conclusion: overwhelming disappointment. I gave this album a 2 because I like the album cover and, maybe--if I’m in the right mood, there are 3 songs on the album that I wouldn’t immediately skip.