Braving a storm of competition from the likes of Hip Hop heavyweights Pharrell and Rick Ross, ‘I Got It’ songstress Ashanti finally gets to see her 5th studio album ‘BraveHeart’ aboard digital shelves after a series of setbacks.
A nod toward reclaiming her throne as crowned princess of Hip-Hop/R&B, the title is an intentional ode to the 1995 Mel Gibson movie where Ashanti similizes with the main character William Wallace (portrayed by Gibson). Yes, while lacking the army and arsenal (which translates to major label financing and PR machine in her case), the ultimate comparison is certainly found in her ‘little engine that could’ displays of bravery and spirit…
‘Braveheart’ reintroduces the songwriting chanteuse as a woman having experienced the ups and downs of love, public betrayal, and disappointments who also gathered the strength to write about it. Decorated by an eclectic mix of 15 tracks, the album features a range of styles from the “Ratchet & B” of “Count” where the singer challenges a lover to make it rain with dollars to the catchy earworm hook of the French Montana-assisted “Early in the Morning”.
Also featured are several euro pop/R&B numbers like “She Can’t” and “Don’t Tell Me No” and the sure to be a summer hit reggae inspired “First Real Love” featuring dancehall king Beenie Man. With no shortage of features (including Jeremih, Rick Ross, and the previously mentioned Beenie Man, French Montana), the guest-list heavy album is a sure throwback to the singer’s glory days. And, despite opting to dismiss formerly christened lead single ‘The Woman You Love’ ft. Busta Rhymes, the album is still a very solid body of work on the vocal and conceptual tip.
If anything, ‘Braveheart’ proves that the quality of the product is still there. The only thing absent from ‘roll call’, so to speak, is the machine that so few independent artists can boast they have.
That Grape Juice’s Favourite ‘Braveheart’ Tracks:
* She Can’t
* I Got It
* Scars <—TGJ Favorite
That Grape Juice’s Least Favourite ‘Braveheart’ Tracks:
* First Real Love ft. Beenie Man
That Grape Juice Rating: 3.5/5
Conclusion: ‘Braveheart’ may describe Ashanti as an overall entity, but musically, the collection of tunes that line the album are very safe…maybe even a little too safe. The maturity as a writer and vocalist are ever present, but sonically, the album does not push the agenda of “edginess”. Arguably, the last time we saw Ashanti dare to do so was via her 3rd studio album ‘Concrete Rose’.
Nevertheless, the album is unapologetically ‘Ashanti’ – bass driven R&B, rap-feature heavy, and dripping with romantic numbers throughout.