We were first introduced to Ashanti in 2001 when she brought her sweet voice to Ja Rule's "Always on Time." But the singer proved to be more than just a hook artist when she released her self-titled debut the following year. The LP gave us three hit singles: "Foolish," "Happy" and "Baby." Almost all the songs had the perfect balance of catchy hooks, honest lyrics and relatable themes about love that her fans could grab onto. This all earned her the crown of the Princess of Hip-Hop and R&B in the early '00s.
Despite the critics' mixed reviews, Ashanti went on to be certified 3x platinum in the U.S., peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and received GRAMMY nominations for Best New Artist, Best Contemporary R&B Album and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for "Foolish." So in honor of the 15th anniversary, let's get into our personal rankings of every song on the album!
Like "Thank You," "Dreams" was another song that felt inspirational upon the album's release. It has a decent message to motivate her fans to accomplish their dreams, no matter the obstacles. The squeaky voices of young girls are a cute touch, but there are a handful of stronger songs on the LP. The repetitive "Dreams are real / All you have to do is just believe" chorus is way too hypnotizing, but not in a good way. Rating: 4/10
The twinkling melody in the beginning of "Movies" makes you feel like you're entering your own film. It has a dreamlike sweetness that reminds you of having that first dance with your crush at prom. Unfortunately once the song hits the middle mark, you've probably already hit the skip button. Rating: 5/10
I remember being way too deep in my feelings for a then 10-year-old about a boy who crushed my heart. So in an odd and not-so-appropriate way, I completely related to "Over." I can vividly recall holding my gray Sony Walkman close to my heart as I wallowed in my sorrows in the comfort of my bedroom. The song finds Ashanti finally leaving a fuckboy behind, and her tense tone still hits home more than a decade later. Rating: 5.5/10
When Ja Rule introduced Ashanti as "our new princess of hip-hop and R&B" on "Happy," we all believed him! The singer's charm throughout the single and video was captivating: all the men wanted her and all the ladies wanted to be her friend. From the infectious sample of Gap Band's "Outstanding" to Ashanti's angelic vocals, there was nothing not to love about "Happy." And I'm sure I wasn't the only one who had the entire video choreography memorized! Rating: 6/10
We've all felt victim to the hypnotizing lure of love, and Ashanti embodied all of those confusing emotions into a gripping song."I've been falling out of love I find myself so deep in lust / And every time he's here with me / I look into his eyes so desperately, but now it's not his face I see / Tell me what comes over me," she coos over a swelling melody. Yes girl, I've definitely been there. Rating: 6.5/10
The best moments on the Ashanti album are always when the singer plays around with heavier, more daunting themes. "Scared" is one of those tracks, where she hesitates to give her call to a man that may take her heart for granted. The vulnerability in her voice, combined with Irv Gotti's rugged tone and the sharp string melody, makes for a flawless song. Rating: 7/10
Sure, "Always on Time" is an R&B classic. But if you can believe it, part two of the song is much better! Ja Rule and Ashanti come together once again to create a track that appears to be overflowing with summertime bliss. Yet once you strip away the vibrant melody, Ashanti is actually singing about kicking her lying and cheating man to the curb. Rating: 8/10
Where were you when "Foolish" first dropped? I vividly remember watching BET's 106 & Park and the song's opening piano notes (sampled from Mark DeBarge's "Stay with Me") instantly struck me. Of course I knew Ashanti from her "Always on Time" collaboration with Ja Rule, but this debut single made her stand out as a R&B star. There's a reason why "Foolish" owned the No. 1 slot on the Billboard Hot 100 for 10 consecutive weeks and received a GRAMMY nomination for Best R&B Female Vocal Performance. Her talent was undeniable, and she proved she was going to be a musical force with a single tune. Rating: 9/10
The original "Foolish" is a certified classic, but the "Unfoolish" remix has a bit of edge thanks to the addition of The Notorious B.I.G.'s memorable verse from 1997's "Fucking You Tonight." His thugged-out, explicit feature gave the song even more appeal. And Ashanti's lyrical flip of finally finding the strength to leave a horrible relationship was the perfect foil to the timidness of "Foolish." Rating: 9/10
One of the setbacks of Ashanti was that the success of the singles overshadowed the other tracks, which left one of the main highlights of the album in the dark. "Rescue" is not only one of Ashanti's best songs, but it's a stellar track from any R&B singer period. The haunting sample from Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal" classic sets the tone of the song, driving its themes of erotica, lust and somewhat defenselessness into your core. Rating: 9.5/10
Once you heard Ashanti coo "I don't remember feeling like this...," you knew this track was going to be something special. I have so many memories attached to "Baby," from begging my mom to buy me a fur coat like the one in the video to practicing the song over my parent's landline phone with a friend in sixth grade. I had such an attachment to "Baby" and wanted to perform it for our elementary school talent show, and it even led me to begin writing songs on my own. The track's power is in its simplicity, as it tugs at your heart with a yearning, pleading romance that almost all of us women have experienced. Rating: 10/10