Who is Debbie Lorenzo? All about Irv Gotti's ex-wife as music producer faces backlash over predatory Ashanti relationship

Irv Gotti and Ashanti (Image via Johnny Nunez/WireImage/Getty Images)
Irv Gotti and Ashanti (Image via Johnny Nunez/WireImage/Getty Images)

Murder Inc. Records CEO and music producer Irv Gotti has come under fire for his relationship with R&B singer Ashanti. On August 23, Gotti (52) recalled how he began his relationship with the singer around two decades back.

In the third episode of The Murder Inc. Story docuseries, Gotti revealed:

“I'm separated from (my then-wife) Deb. I'm on my own. And Ashanti's coming to the studio every day and our friendship and bond is naturally growing."

He went on to say that the singer would turn up at the studio in "Juicy sweats," and recalled how he told her one day that he would take her home:

"So, one day I was like, 'Yo, I'll take you home.' She said, 'Bet, cool.' We are walking to her front door of her crib. She turns and says goodbye and I just kiss her and grab her a** and just mwah. It was like, what took you so long?"

The incident, which allegedly happened around 20 years back, has landed Irv Gotti in hot waters and earned him significant backlash, with some even labelling the actions as being predatory in nature.

I had NO IDEA Ashanti was being preyed on like this. And the fact that he’s being given the space to speak on her like this is unacceptable.

Gotti and Ashanti reportedly began dating sometime in the early 2000s, while the former was still married to Debbie Lorenzo. In a 2019 episode of Growing Up Hip Hop: New York, Lorenzo spoke about the "relationship" between her husband and Ashanti, citing it as a contributing factor to their eventual divorce.

During the episode, Gotti's ex-wife also stated that he had cheated on her multiple times while he was away from home. The two were married for more than a decade before they reportedly split in 2013.

What is known about Irv Gotti’s ex-wife, Debbie Lorenzo?

Irv Gotti married noted hat designer Debbie Lorenzo in the early 2000s and shares three children with her - Angie, Sonny, and Jonathan “JJ” Wilson Gotti.

Apart from hat designing, Lorenzo is also an entrepreneur, and founded Frances Grey millinery shortly after her divorce with Gotti. The Queens native of Jamaican descent also received her Master’s Degree in Social Work following her separation from Gotti. She also attended New York City’s Fashion Institute of Technology, and was enrolled in their millinery program, which gave her the expertise required for this business.

According to Irv Gotti’s confession on The Wendy Williams Show, Debbie Lorenzo caught him cheating while he was directing I Cry in Baltimore. He recalled that Lorenzo had gone up to his hotel room where he caught him cheating on her. Speaking about the incident, Gotti said:

"The door was latched, but she knows I'm in there. That's what broke me and Deb up."

Netizens react to Irv Gotti talking about his relationship with Ashanti

Following his revelation on the The Murder Inc. Story docuseries, multiple tweets pointed out the ten-year age gap between Ashanti (now 41) and Gotti (now 52). Netizens were quick to point out that at the time of their first encounter around two decades back, Ashanti would have been 19 or 20, whereas Gotti would have been in his 30s.

This sparked much criticism over Gotti’s pursuit of Ashanti back then.

Honestly I want 50 cent to bully Irv Gotti again …
Irv Gotti is 52 still talking about a relationship that happened almost 20 years ago while he was married. Please never let me become this type of loser
Ashanti every time she sees her name trending with Irv Gotti
There needs to be a hefty conversation about Irv Gotti because in no way should any man be talking about someone the way he’s talking about Ashanti, ESPECIALLY when she made it clear she wants no part.
If I was Ashanti I would cease and desist the whole f**k outta Irv Gotti. #murderincstorybet
Irv Gotti is gonna chat himself right into some #MeToo allegations

A few tweets also insinuated out that since the music producer was already established and Ashanti was in the early stages of her career, the up-and-coming artist might have felt forced to give in to Gotti's advances and thought that it would bring turn a negative light on her career if she refused.

I’LL SAY IT: Ashanti was like 20 & Irv Gotti was 10 years older, in control of her career with power dynamics; it’s giving he preyed on her.It’s creepy & some would say sexual assault, cause no consent. What if she felt she had to be with him for her career? #MurderIncStoryBET
Irv is over a 10+ years older than Ashanti. We need to stop acting like it's okay for a 30+ y/o producer/label owner to get involved w/ a 19 y/o singer trying to break into the biz. The power dynamics are not even CLOSE to be equal, & that's before we even talk about Irv's wife…
@khalilasbro @BritniDWrites A 29 year old man has no business with 19 year old girl. Just because the government says you’re an adult at 19. Doesn’t mean you’re an adult. What person in their right mind would want someone,who’s freshly out of high school when they are 29 years old.
Irv Gotti has to let this Ashanti situation go. Why they even keep asking him questions about her?

What else did Irv Gotti say about his brief relationship with Ashanti?

During his appearance in the Drink Champs podcast, Gotti told co-host Noreaga aka N.O.R.E. that having s*xual relations with him had helped Ashanti in her career. He further revealed how he wrote his hit track, Happy:

“We just finished sleeping together, or whatever, I'm taking a shower. I'm in the shower, you know, a n***a be creative after [s*x]... I'll give you the quick story, you can see the full story on the Murder Inc documentary... I think of the whole track in the shower.”

It remains to be seen if Ashanti will address the recent concerns of her fans as to the age gap and start of her brief relationship with Irv Gotti in the past.

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Edited by Upasya Bhowal
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