Exclusive: Ashanti and Nelly are expecting – and engaged!

Ashanti and Nelly are having a baby!

The singer shared the happy news exclusively with ESSENCE and is thrilled to not only have her first child, but also to be engaged to her longtime love.

“This new year of my life is such a blessing full of love, hope and anticipation,” she says. “Motherhood is something I’ve been looking forward to, and sharing it with my family, my fiancé, and my loyal fans, who have been so supportive of my career, is an incredible experience.”

The couple also tells ESSENCE exclusively that they co-own Proov, along with founder Amy Beckley, PhD. This is a diagnostic company that offers at-home tests that help people looking to conceive get there faster and in a way that doesn’t leave a big dent in their pocket. Medical-grade testing helps highlight issues that may be preventing people from conceiving. Proov was featured in Ashanti’s pregnancy announcement video, co-shared by ESSENCE on Instagram.

It’s all part of a new chapter in the stars’ lives. As reported, this will be Ashanti’s first child and Nelly’s fifth. He has a daughter, Chanelle, a son, Cornell Jr., and adopted Shawn and Sydney Thomas, the two children of his sister, Jackie Donahue, after her death from leukemia in 2005.

The couple reunited in 2023, with the “Country Grammar” rapper confirming the news after the two were seen attending events together and performing flirtatiously and following Ashanti carrying a clutch with her and Nelly’s face on it at last year’s Grammy Awards.

“Yeah, we’re cooling off again,” he said during an interview last fall with Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta stars Kirk and Rasheeda Frost. “I think it surprised both of us. It wasn’t something that was planned. I think we both pretty much do what we do.

The couple rekindled a romance that began in 2003, at the start of their music careers. He says things are a lot lighter now that they’re older and they have sex differently.

“There’s no pressure,” he said in that same interview. “You know, before, I felt like we were both doing what we do career-wise. And when there are so many people in the middle, it can be difficult.

Before reuniting, the two began communicating again after the Verzuz event between Fat Joe and Ja Rule. During the star-studded event, Nelly notably gave a hug, which Ashanti said was an afterthought surprise.

“I didn’t know he would be there. I haven’t seen or spoken to him since we broke up. I don’t know if it’s been six years or something, so I didn’t know what to expect,” she said during a 2021 Instagram Live with friends and collaborators Ja Rule and Fat Joe. “That’s what’s crazy, nothing was said. I saw him walking, his eyes got big, I didn’t know what to expect. It was positive.

When Ja implied that Nelly was single and available to mingle, Ashanti initially avoided talk of a reconciliation.

“Look, I’m a very positive person. I am very private. I wish him the best and all those good things,” she said at the time. “A lot has happened, a lot of unresolved things. Lots of gray area. Lots of confusion. That’s all I’m saying! A lot has happened. They hate hearing this part, don’t they? They want to hear, “What is this old thing?” They don’t want to hear about everything that happened between the two. Don’t worry, I won’t tell you.

But behind the scenes, the couple has been doing the work to move on from the past and fall in love again. And now they’re preparing to start a family together and be husband and wife, the type of union that, in the past, Nelly hasn’t seemed so sure of. But clearly, Ashanti helped change his mind, and we love to see it.

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