Jay-Z Was Originally Supposed to Rap on Ashanti’s ‘Foolish’

With Ashanti and Keyshia Cole set to rock the stage for the next Verzuz musical event, it’s only natural for people examine both of their catalogs as singers and songwriters.

Ashanti has put her vocals and writing skills to work on a string of classics, including “Rain on Me,” “Ain’t It Funny,” “Foolish,” and “What’s Luv.” Though she established herself by singing hooks on singles for Fat Joe and other rappers, her famous track “Foolish” set her on an individual path to success. And Jay-Z was originally supposed to appear on the song.

Ashanti and Jay-Z
Ashanti and Jay-Z attend L.A. Reid’s birthday party, 2004 | Ray Tamarra/Getty Images

“Foolish” marked Ashanti’s big debut

Ashanti hit the ground running in the early 2000s, launching a career that would eventually amount to a Grammy win, Billboard records, and a nod from the Guinness Book of World records.

She made history as the first woman to have three songs charting at the same time on Billboard’s Hot 100 top 10, and also as the first female to snag the top two spots on the charts in the country at once.

When “Foolish” was released in 2002 as Ashanti’s first single from her self-titled debut album, it shot her to superstardom. Using a famed DeBarge sample in the beat, the track stayed on Billboard charts for 21 weeks.

RELATED: Fat Joe And Ashanti’s Collaboration Was Originally Supposed To Have Jennifer Lopez Featured Instead

What happened to Ashanti featuring Jay-Z on ‘Foolish’

Over the years, Ashanti’s spoken about some behind the scenes moments from her career, including the potential team-up with Jay-Z for “Foolish.” While there isn’t any rapping on the song, there was supposed to be a verse on the bridge.

Ashanti told VladTV that Murder Inc.’s Irv Gotti originally arranged for Jay-Z to be on the record but then changed his mind. After Gotti gave her the template for the song, she wrote the lyrics within hours.

But there was a gap. “Before that record was completed, that bridge wasn’t on there,” Ashanti explained.

She said Gotti called Jay-Z to hop on the song and he was ready to lay down some bars. Then Gotti pumped the brakes.

“Irv changed his mind, and he was like, ‘You know what? That’s typical and I’m not gonna do the typical R&B record and get the big rapper to co-sign it.’” Ashanti shared that Gotti pushed her to write the bridge on her own and the song later turned into a hit.

In an interview with Billboard’s In Studio, she reminisced about the moment and noted that Notorious B.I.G. appeared on the “Unfoolish” remix, and what it would have been like if both he and Jay-Z were on it.

Ashanti’s debut album achieved major milestones

“Foolish” was the lead single off the singer’s first project, “Ashanti,” which earned her a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Album. Ashanti also landed in the Guinness Book of World Records for the fastest-selling debut album for a female artist. She sold half a million records in less than 10 days.

2020 marked the 18-year anniversary of the project, and since the start of Ashanti’s career, she’s sold more than 25 million records.