Two Debut Albums Fight for Top Spot
April 2 is shaping up as a battle of the new hip-hop/soul divas, with two eagerly awaited debut albums that will be dueling for the top spot on the album chart.

In this corner is Ashanti, the first R&B/hip-hop vocalist on Irv Gotti’s Murder Inc./IDJ label, who has already contributed to smashes like labelmate Ja Rule’s "Always on Time" and J.Lo’s "I’m Real." "Foolish," the first single from her self-titled debut, is already a Crossover/mix show hit.

In the other corner is Tweet, the latest protege of Missy Elliott and Timbaland, whose Goldmind/Elektra debut, Southern Hummingbird, has already produced a Top 5 Crossover/ mix show hit in "Oops (Oh My)."

The success of 21-year-old Ashanti Douglas’ "Foolish," produced by Gotti, led the label to move up the release date of her full-length bow, for which she wrote all the songs, save one co-written with Rule. The single is reminiscent of Notorious B.I.G.’s "One More Chance" remix with a melody that also recalls DeBarge’s 1983 hit, "Stay With Me."

"When you hear ‘Foolish,’ you get it immediately," says Gotti. "She flips the hardcore songs and makes ’em sweet, so she appeals to both sexes."

Ashanti welcomes comparisons to reigning hip-hop soul queen Mary J. Blige: "I didn’t want to sing only slow songs, and I didn’t want to be spittin’ rhymes. Mary cleared the way, but now I’m following my own path."

The video has been in rotation at both BET’s 106 and Park and MTV’s TRL.

Ashanti will be touring with Ja Rule this Spring.

She’s appearing on the cover of Teen People’s special upcoming music issue.

A comprehensive online marketing campaign is underway, featuring contests, newsletters and street teams.

Tweet is also a twentysomething singer/songwriter/musician/producer who blends old-school soul with a hip-hop edge. Her first single, "Oops (Oh My)," deals with the onset of womanhood, from a physical and emotional perspective—in other words, self-gratification.

Said label Exec. VP/GM Greg Thompson: "We’re hoping for a #1 debut and to be on the cover of HITS—what else is there? We’ve been #1 at Urban and Crossover, Top Five at Rhythmic. We’re very excited. We think she’s a career artist."

Elektra is pulling out all the stops to maximize the release of Southern Hummingbird:

Tweet will perform "Oops (Oh My)" on Jay Leno April 3.

She’s hosting MTV’s Full Body Search, where she’ll perform the single with Elliott.

Scheduled appearances on TRL (4/1) as well as BET’s 106 and Park and Spring Bling.

A visit to Hot 97 N.Y. (4/1), where she’ll guest on shows with Funkmaster Flex and DJ Clue.

An in-store appearance at the Wiz in Paramus, NJ, on the day of release.

A special online AOL listening party (3/22-3/29).

Features in Vibe, Details, Rolling Stone, Teen People, Spin and YM, with upcoming covers of Honey, Cosmo Girl and Trace.