R n’ B singer Ashanti has come under fire from civil rights leaders after launching a promotional website that greets visitors with a news report about a fake murder spree. Dozens of concerned parents and religious heads gathered outside the Los Angeles offices of her record label Universal/Motown on Tuesday to protest the controversial site and demand it be taken down. The site’s news report – which users can personalise by selecting a “weapon of choice” and “victim” – claims to be linked to Ashanti’s revenge-themed music video for new single The Way That I Love You, in which the singer plays a woman who stabs her cheating boyfriend to death. Najee Ali, head of Project Islamic Hope and one of the protest’s organisers, has branded the singer’s promotional stunt a “career mistake”, insisting violence should never be used to settle disputes. Ali tells MTV.com, “There are a lot of outraged parents who feel that the type of message and imagery that promotes violence as a tool for solving domestic relation problems is inappropriate.
“Universal should recognise that they have corporate responsibility for promoting their artists and material that they want us to purchase.”But the star’s publicist Michelle Huff claims the video was intended to be a parody in the style of U.S. comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live. In a statement, she adds: “The website… is not controlled by Ashanti nor is it her creative work… It is important to point out that Ashanti’s history of creative expression does not glorify violence at all.”
Protestors are planning another rally in New York next week, however the TheWayThatILoveYou.com website that hosts the “Gotchagram” has now been removed by the singer’s label.
And in other Ashanti news, Hits Daily Double has reported “The Declaration” as opening in 6th place on the albums charts with sales of just over 80,000 copies. Official Sound Scan numbers are expected to be released later on tonight.