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Ashanti turns 40 today. The curvy singer celebrated her birthday with friends in Antigua and Barbuda.
"Reflecting on the blessings," Ashanti captioned a post that shows her relaxing on a yacht in an emerald sea.
Ashanti was born Ashanti Shequoiya Douglas on October 13, 1980 in Glen Cove, New York. Her mother was a dance teacher and her father was a former singer.
Ashanti's mother, Tina Douglas (pictured), discovered her full singing potential when she overheard Ashanti singing Mary J. Blige's "Reminisce" at age 12.
As a teenager, Ashanti wrote songs and performed in local talent shows. She got a small break as a child extra in Spike Lee's Malcolm X (1992) and in Ted Demme's Who's the Man?.
But her first love was music. Ashanti began performing around the city and she eventually came to the attention of Bad Boy Records, Jive and Murder Inc., where she was noticed by Murder Inc. CEO and co-founder Irv Gotti.
Gotti asked her to write hooks for his label artists and to perform with them in duets.
Her duets on Fat Joe's "What's Luv?" and Ja Rule's "Always on Time" helped launch the songs up the charts, becoming two of the biggest hit songs of 2002.
Ashanti became the first female artist to occupy the top two positions on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles chart at the same time.
Following the success of her collaborations with Ja Rule and Fat Joe, Ashanti released her debut single, "Foolish", which contains a sample of the 1983 song "Stay with Me" by DeBarge.
Ashanti's self-titled debut album, Ashanti, was released on Murder Inc. in April 2002 and debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 albums chart. The album was certified triple platinum in the United States and sold six million copies worldwide.
The album was a fan favorite, earning 8 Billboard Music Awards, 2 American Music Awards, and a Grammy Award in 2003 for Best Contemporary R&B Album.
In July 2003, Ashanti's sophomore album, Chapter II, also debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 326,000 copies. Chapter II went platinum, selling over 1.5 million copies.
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In 2004, Ashanti began dating rapper Nelly and considered settling down to raise a family.
Ashanti and Nelly were the Beyonce and Jay-Z of their time. Fans couldn't get enough of the sexy couple. One fan made a scrap book filled with pictures of the hip-hop royal couple.
Nelly and Ashanti ended their long-term relationship in 2014 after dating 10 years. Their union produced no children and Ashanti told friends she regretted not tying the knot with the St. Louis rapper, now 45.
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There were many rumors of cheating by both Ashanti and Nelly during their decade together. After the breakup, Ashanti earned a scandalous reputation as a home-wrecker.
Ashanti has been linked to Chink Santana (who was dating Keyshia Cole at the time); NFL player Darnell Dockett (who was married at the time), NBA star James Harden, comedian Michael Blackson, rapper Joyner Lucas, and more.
Ashanti released 5 albums in her 18-year career. She was nominated for 8 Grammy Awards, winning a Grammy for her 2003 album Ashanti. She won 35 music awards in her stellar career, including 8 Billboard Music Awards and 2 American Music Awards.