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Ashanti’s rise to fame was courtesy of some of the biggest collaborations in the early 2000s. With collaborations with artists like Ja Rule, Nelly, and Lloyd, it was almost impossible to turn on the radio and not hear Ashanti on a hook.

Ashanti and Fat Joe
Ashanti and Fat Joe 2002 | Scott Gries/ImageDirect

One of the biggest songs she was featured in was Fat Joe’s “What’s Luv.” The song is one of Joe’s most notable of his career catalog. But, it turns out that Ashanti’s label wrote the song with Jennifer Lopez in mind.  

Fat Joe says Ashanti’s record label wanted Jennifer Lopez instead of her for “What’s Luv”

In the early 2000s, Ashanti was on the rise as the first R&B singer to be signed to the all hip-hop label, Murder Inc. She was poised to become the princess among the rap kings and the label’s major marketing plan for her involved her being featured on other rapper’s songs. She’d already done a handful of features for her label mates and Fat Joe fought for her to appear on “What’s Luv” after he says Ashanti’s label wanted Lopez on the track 

Jennifer Lopez and Fat Joe
Fat Joe and Jennifer Lopez 2005 | James Devaney/WireImage

“Irv and Ja [Rule] called me and they woke me up at like 3 in the morning, and they said ‘Come down, we got a song for you,’ it was right after Pun passed,” he told Ashanti during an Instagram live chat. “They played ‘What’s Luv’ and you were on it and they was telling me, ‘This is for you and J. Lo, we want the Latinos on it.”

Ashanti was featured on the demo and Joe was so impressed that he opted to keep her on it, despite the label wanting Lopez to keep the Latino flair going. The final cut would feature Rule, Ashanti, and Joe.

Source: Instagram

How did Fat Joe and Ashanti’s “What’s Luv” do?

Putting Ashanti on the track proved to be the right move for Joe. At the time, both Ashanti and Lopez were the rising queens of features in hip hop and R&B/pop. But Lopez was already a huge star, so it gave Ashanti another opportunity as her star was on the rise thanks to her 2001 collab with Rule, “Always On Time.” 

Source: YouTube

“What’s Luv” peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and remained on the chart for twenty weeks. The song was also a hit internationally, making the charts in Australia, the UK, and Europe. It also reached number one on the Hot Rap Songs chart.

The song became Ashanti’s second top 10 single and helped to make her the first female artist to simultaneously have the top two positions on the Hot 100 behind “Always On Time.” 

“What’s Luv” was popular outside of radio as the song was featured on the soundtrack for the comedy film Jwanna Man. Clips from the film were also incorporated throughout the music video, which was shot in Ashanti, Ja Rule, and Fat Joe’s hometown of New York. 

Source: YouTube

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The music video proved to be a major hit on music video countdowns like MTV’s TRL and BET’s 106 & Park. The song remained popular even throughout the following summer, with Ashanti and Fat Joe performed the song live during the 2002 MTV Spring Break festivities.