Irv Gotti and Ashanti were rumored to be more than just collaborators during Murder Inc.’s heyday in the early 2000s, but it wasn’t long after catapulting to fame that the “Foolish” songstress began dating Nelly — much to Gotti’s surprise.
In a clip from his and Ja Rule’s upcoming Drink Champs episode, the veteran Hip Hop executive revealed he learned about Ashanti and Nelly’s relationship from watching a basketball game on TV — while he was “in love” with the singer.
“I can get past you wanting to be with Nelly,” he said while reflecting on his alleged fling with his former signee. “Listen, at the time, when it happens, any man, it hurts [when] the chick you fucking are in love with is with this n-gga.
“You wanna hear how I found out? This was God wanting me to find out. I was at home. NBA package, I like watching sports. ‘Oh my God, what’s this commotion going on in the stadium?’ ‘We just found out what the commotion is: Nelly has walked in with Ashanti.’”
Irv Gotti delved deeper into his relationship with Ashanti during a 2017 interview with Hot 97’s Funk Flex, alluding to them hooking up. However, he denied Ashanti was the catalyst behind his divorce from his ex-wife.
“It was intimate,” he said. “I think everyone knows at this point we had a relationship. When she first got to Murder Inc., I really didn’t have time for her because I was doing JAY-Z, DMX and Ja Rule. So I said, ‘Yo, be a studio rat. If you just be a studio rat and come through, maybe I’ll find a record for you.’
“Contrary to what anyone thinks, Ashanti had nothing to do with the demise of me and Deb; I was off the fucking hook and Deb kicked me out of the house … So now, I’m basically living in the studio, I’m still wildin’ out … and, you know, that’s when things happen.”
He added: “Me and Ashanti never officially was together. We was chilling. It was never official like, ‘Yo, that’s my girl.’”
Ashanti and Nelly went public in 2003 after hitting it off at a press conference for the 45th Annual Grammy Awards earlier that year. The couple were together for roughly a decade before calling it quits in 2013.
During his interview with Funk Flex, Irv Gotti admitted he was jealous of Ashanti’s relationship with Nelly and stopped her from appearing in one of the rapper’s music videos.
“At the time, it was some crunch ’cause we was with the same chick,” he said. “They were in a video, it was that ‘Country’ video. I think he put Ciara in it, but at first it was Ashanti in it. He called me because, you know, she’s my artist. And I was like, ‘Remove her from that fucking video, dawg. You understand?’ Which could’ve been salty on my part.”
While Irv Gotti and Nelly have managed to patch things up and form a friendship, Gotti’s relationship with Ashanti remains strained all these years later.