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Sound Off – Ashanti: The Declaration

Posted by ThatsMyJamRadio on June 10, 2008

The latest albums making noise

Ashanti is one of those artists that listeners either love or hate, and, strangely enough, it’s possible to experience both simultaneously. As such, hopefully Ms. Douglas can forgive the hesitation that complemented approaching her latest effort, The Declaration, a disc that quietly crept up on radio and video outlets with it’s lead single and much talked-about video for “The Way That I Love You.” Those who have written off Ashanti will receive many unexpected surprises with this album as she demonstrates a much stronger vocal range, successful forays into sexy territory, an ability to survive on melodies crafted by those outside The Inc.’s roster and a limited number of guest appearances.

Once past the “Intro,” Ashanti begins the “breakup” set with “The Way That I Love You,” which is followed by “You’re Gonna Miss,” an up-tempo groove baked in a futuristic hip-hop beat with Ashanti sprinkling in lyrics of her ex’s future regret for leaving her. “So Over You” serves as a natural progression, with its edgier beat and word play such as “I am finished cryin’ over your lyin’, your denyin’, I am so over you.” If ever an artist took notes on vocal delivery, Ashanti has clearly been listening to Mariah Carey’s “Don’t Forget About Us” and wrote a thesis with “Struggle,” which proves convincing and comparable to the original.

“Girlfriend” initiates the “sexy” portion of the album with its midtempo flow, but nothing invites sex appeal quite like Ashanti’s duet with Robin Thicke. “Things You Make Me Do” features a hand clap-driven melody with cosmic accents serving as a backseat driver, as Thicke entices to “Run, Ashanti, run, you know I wanna chase it.” The highlight of this section ― and the album ― is “Good Good,” with its fun, light-hearted references to the “goodies” Ciara made famous over music provided by Jermaine Dupri.

Last but not least is the “inspirational” set, with an ode to a supportive mom (“Mother”); “Shine,” the “be all you can be” anthem; and the disc’s title track, in which Ashanti proudly and loudly proclaims that she’s still here ― lest any of us take a nod from Pink’s last effort, I’m Not Dead, and assume Ashanti fell off after her four-year absence.

Though it maintains its commercial appeal, gone from The Declaration are Ashanti clichés: the overuse of “baby,” the domination of songs by hip-hop guest stars and strained attempts at power ballads. In their place are confidence, vulnerability and what finally feels like a true demonstration of her capabilities as an artist.

Track List:
1. “Intro”
2. “The Way That I Love You”
3. “You’re Gonna Miss”
4. “So Over You”
5. “Struggle”
6. “Girlfriend”
7. “Things You Make Me Do” with Robin Thicke
8. “In These Streets”
9. “Good Good”
10. “Body on Me” with Nelly and Akon
11. “Mother”
12. “Shine”
13. “The Declaration”

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