Jeffrey Atkins better known by his stage name Ja Rule was born in Hollis Queens, NY. He debuted in 1999 with Venni Vetti Vecci and its lead single “Holla Holla”. During the 2000s, Ja Rule was signed to Murder Inc., formerly known as The Inc. and led by Irv Gotti. From 1999 to 2005, Ja Rule had multiple hits that made the top 20 of the U.S. BillboardHot 100 chart, including “Between Me and You” (featuring Christina Milian), “I’m Real (Murder Remix)” and “Ain’t It Funny” (both with Jennifer Lopez)—which both topped the Hot 100—the number 1 hit “Always on Time” (featuring Ashanti), “Mesmerize” (featuring Ashanti), and “Wonderful” (featuring R.Kelly and Ashanti).
Rule has been nominated for two American Music Awards and four Grammy Awards with respective collaborators Lil’ Mo, Vita, Ashanti and Case. Following the release of his platinum-selling debut Venni Vetti Vecci (1999), he released his second and third albums Rule 3:36 (2000) and Pain Is Love (2001). Both albums topped the US Billboard 200 album chart, launching him into the mainstream, selling over a combined 15 million units to a wide audience, and attaining triple platinum status from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), becoming his best-selling albums to date. Rule followed up with his fourth, fifth and sixth albums The Last Temptation (2002), Blood in My Eye (2003), and R.U.L.E. (2004), with The Last Temptation attaining Platinum status and R.U.L.E. reaching Gold status. As of 2018, Rule has sold 14.4 million units in the USA and has sold over 30 million records worldwide.
Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter, actor and author Ashanti burst onto the music scene with her smash hit, self-titled debut album, Ashanti. It landed the #1 spot on both the Billboard Top 200 and R&B album charts, selling a whopping 504,593 units in its first week. This set a SoundScan record as the most albums sold by any debut female artist in the chart’s history and granted her a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. Over the span of her 20-year career, Ashanti has released six studio albums and received a number of illustrious rewards including eight Billboard Awards, a Grammy, two American Music Awards, two Soul Train Awards and six ASCAP Awards. She has reigned at the top as one of Billboard’s “Top Females of the Decade from 2000-2010” and continues to break Billboard records having a Hot 100 entry every decade in the 2000’s, 2010’s and 2020’s.
In 2005, Ashanti made her telefilm debut starring as Dorothy in The Muppets’ Wizard of Oz, opposite Miss Piggy and Kermit. She also starred in Disney’s animated series The Proud Family and continued her journey in television landing roles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Army Wives, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch, as well as portraying Dionne Warwick on NBC’s American Dreams.
In her feature film debut she co-starred with Samuel L. Jackson in the #1 box office hit Coach Carter. Ashanti’s additional film credits include Resident Evil Extinction, John Tucker Must Die and Bollywood film Bride & Prejudice. Ashanti executive produced and starred in the musical drama and feature film STUCK, released April 2019. She donned her executive producer hat once again for the feature film Mothers and Daughters, starring Sharon Stone, Susan Sarandon and Mira Sorvino.
In partnership with Build-A-Bear Entertainment and Sony Pictures, Ashanti leads the cast of the family friendly Honey Girls and will soon begin filming The Plus One in March 2022. The Ashanti brand has continued to flourish with several major partnerships including her own fragrance, “Precious Jewel” with AMC Beauty. Endorsements with Candies Apparel and the groundbreaking Herbal Essence, where she is the first African American to land a national campaign inspired her to launch a clothing line in collaboration with Miss Circle and partner with Pretty Little Thing to create her own swimsuit line “Ashanti.”
As an author, she has written her first book of poetry through Hyperion titled Foolish/Unfoolish: Reflections on Love and will release a book with Harper Collins in 2022.
As a philanthropist, Ashanti is the Ambassador for the Jumpstart Reading Program and became the “Youth of the Year” Ambassador for the Boys and Girls Club of America in 2009 and was inducted into their Hall of Fame. She became a member of their “BE GREAT” Campaign with Denzel Washington and was a part of the “Let’s Move” health campaign with Michelle Obama. To celebrate her contributions to music and recording, Ashanti will receive a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Spring 2022.