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Why Legendary Hip Hop Music Executive Irv Gotti Is Defending Ashanti

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Who Is Irv Gotti? New Details On Legendary Hip Hop Music Executive Defending Ashanti From Haters

Irv Gotti has been a force in music since 1999 when he helped Def Jam launch DMX and JaRule. After that, Russell Simmons gave him a label of his own, which he named Murder Inc., after the infamous murder for hire team of the 1930s. The label has produced a string of hits over the years. One of the artists to break out thanks to a Murder Inc. contract was Ashanti. Gotti likes to give himself credit for launching her career. She made five albums with the label before ending her contract in 2009.

There have always been questions about how deep their relationship went and if was more than just about the music. Rumors that they had an intimate relationship have always been around and some folks have even wondered if Ashanti was a factor in the demise of Gotti's marriage in 2009.

In a recent appearance on the Wendy Williams Show, Gotti is answering some of those questions and trying to put them to bed once and for all.

Who is Irv Gotti? Read on for all the details. 

1. Running Murder Inc.

In the early 2000s, Gotti was a legendary hitmaker, running the label Murder Inc. under Def Jam. As a producer, he worked with artists including Ja Rule, Jay-Z, Ashanti, Jennifer Lopez and even Kanye West in later years. Murder Inc. was a force in music for years despite run-ins with the law. In 2003, the offices were raided by federal agents looking for evidence that drug kingpin Kenneth McGriff was laundering money through the label. Gotti and his brother were both tried on charges of money laundering but were acquitted in 2005. 


A post shared by Irv "Gotti" Lorenzo (@irvgotti187) on Aug 28, 2019 at 4:44pm PDT

Gotti is branching into films now.

2. Irv and Ashanti

Ashanti was looking to get into the music business since she was a teenager but was having trouble breaking through, despite enormous talent as a singer and a songwriter. She started hanging around at Murder Inc., hoping to catch a break when Irv Gotti noticed her. He was impressed with her singing but he also had her start writing music for other artists. Her early recording experience was collaborating on hip-hop tracks, where she would provide a melodic contract to the rap songs. She was featured on Fat Joe's "What's Luv?" and Ja Rule's "Always on Time," which were released simultaneously and became two of the biggest hit songs of 2002. Gotti produced her first single "Foolish" that same year. She went on to record five albums for Murder Inc. 

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3. Did he cheat with Ashanti?

There have always been rumors that the relationship between Irv and Ashanti was more than just professional. Some even thought Ashanti might have been the reason Irv and his wife split up in 2009. But in a recent appearance on the Wendy Williams Show, Irv is trying to clear up that rumor once and for all. "No, Ashanti is not a homewrecker, guys. Ashanti had nothing to do with me and Deb. Deb caught me when I was directing "I Cry" in Baltimore," he said. "Deb, being the vicious person she is, she came down unannounced, 'I'm Mrs. Lorenzo, give me the room key.' The door was latched, but she knows I'm in there. That's what broke me and Deb up."


A post shared by Ashanti (@ashanti) on Oct 29, 2019 at 8:09am PDT

Ashanti earlier this year.

4. Did he even date Ashanti?

Gotti won't even cop to having had any kind of intimate relationship with Ashanti. He has been denying rumors that they were ever an item for years. In 2013, the question came up on The Breakfast Club and he shot it down. "Here’s the real. Me and Ashanti have a unique and special bond. Okay? We made great music together. No, we didn’t have sex. I never slept with Ashanti," Gotti said. 

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5. What about "I'm Real"? 

The other scandal that has swirled around Irv and Ashanti for years in the rumor that she really sang on JLo's hit song "I'm Real." Ja Rule has dropped hints that Ashanti was on the track more than once. He appeared on Watch What Happens Live this summer to stir that pot. Jezebel reports that he told Andy Cohen Ashanti had originally cut the demo for the song and "and when they mixed down the record, they left some of the vocals underneath.” When Cohen pushed to confirm Ashanti was part of the vocals, Ja Rule said, “She has some vocals underneath... I believe! That is the rumor. I don’t even know if it’s really true.” 

For Ja Rule to even bring this up is a bit weird because Ashanti told the whole story back in 2016. Back then she told Entertainment Tonight, “I remember being in the studio and being pissed because I was doing all this work and it wasn’t for me! But it was good. I was young and it was a good learning experience and great exposure. I demoed the record, so I sang the whole entire record and then they took most of my lead vocals out and she re-cut her part and they left my backgrounds on. It was just a nice group effort.”

Now Irv Gotti is confirming her version of events. “Ashanti was a background vocalist, that’s it, period, don’t make a big thing about it,” he said to Wendy Williams. “Yes, it was her voice, but you know how many records have background vocals? Why y’all making a big thing out of it? Ashanti wasn’t a star, she was just in the studio with me, and I was Napoleon.” 

Ashanti has no comment on the Napoleon remark. 

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6. Why Ashanti walked away

Back in 2013, he told The Breakfast Club that he and Ashanti don't speak anymore because of choices she made. She left the label in 2009 and went her own direction. That evidently didn't sit well with Gotti. "Let me tell you about our relationship. Listen, we at Murder Inc. is like a family," he said to The Breakfast Club in 2013. "What happened when I fell upon hard times, certain people bailed. She bailed. She didn’t wanna be a part of Murder Inc. no more. She’s this princess that I created and the ‘Murder’ wasn’t good for the image anymore."

We hope that ends these rumors but we suspect we'll hear all of this again someday. Some rumors never die, especially in hip hop.

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.