Album review: Jennifer Lopez - J.Lo

Album review: Jennifer Lopez - J.Lo | Random J Pop

"If You Had My Love" and "Waiting for Tonight" were such huge hits from Jennifer Lopez's debut album, that of course she was going to drop a follow up. A bitch was not going to let a lack of vocal talent stop her, and do you know what? I admire Jennifer for that. Because if every artist refused to pursue and put out music because of their lack of vocal talent, most of our faves would not exist. And when you've got a team around you who are putting your ass in studios with good songwriters and producers who know who to make hits, you ain't ever gotta find the key.

Jennifer Lopez's second studio album J.Lo is pretty much a bigger and badder version of On the 6. Every sound that we got on Jennifer's debut is here, but there's a greater finesse to the songs and better curation. On the 6 was Jennifer and Epic records dipping their toe into the waters and really capitalising on her turn as Selena. J.Lo was about making Jennifer Lopez a pop fixture on shows like TRL and taking over radio more than she had with songs like "If You Had My Love" and "Waiting For Tonight". And with R&B dominating the airwaves and Jennifer Lopez letting everybody know that she's from the Bronx, it's the core sound of the album. The lead single "Love Don't Cost a Thing" pretty much sets the tone for J.Lo.

Album review: Jennifer Lopez - J.Lo | Random J Pop

I will be really frank with you about this album. I like it. But Jennifer isn't the reason why. The songs are. Every single song on this album would sound better with another artist at its helm. Chanté Moore would have owned "Love Don't Cost a Thing". Mariah Carey (we know her) would've flown with "I'm Real". We know the history of this song involved Mariah Carey, and with that I will also say that "I'm Real" is better than the original version of "Loverboy". Britney woulda given it to us with "Play". Shit. Even Christina Milian who co-wrote the song and provides all of the backing vocals would have given it to us. Janet Jackson would've done the damn thing with "Walking on Sunshine". And Tamia woulda left a piece of shit on Jennifer's doorstep with "Secretly". Each of these artists would have left their imprint so strongly on each of these songs that you wouldn't be able to divorce them from it. Even with their respective discographies, they're irreplaceable on all of their songs. The same cannot be said for Jennifer and a single song on this album. And it's not even just about her lack of vocal ability. Because whilst fellow ex-girlfriend of Puff Daddy and 0 octave vocalist Cassie gave us nothing on "Long Way 2 Go" and "Me & U", those songs wouldn't have hit with anybody else.
The songwriting and production on J.Lo is what carries it, and no expense was spared to ensure Jennifer had a slew of potential hits. Jennifer Lopez's ownership of J.Lo only comes through visually. I won't take this away from her, because even this is a skill. But she matters so little on the music to the point you may find yourself not being a fan of her as you are a fan of her music, which is where I'm at. Because of her debut single "If You Had My Love" and songs from this album, I've followed Jennifer's music through the years. Not because of her, but because I know she has a good ass A&R and management team who will always get her good songs. And sometimes if we're lucky enough, we may find out that one of the songs Jennifer recorded was originally cut by somebody else who did it better, and that shit will leak and give us the definitive version.

Musically, Jennifer is a non factor.

Album review: Jennifer Lopez - J.Lo | Random J Pop

I think it's a shame that the J.Lo album got cut short with its counterpart remix album, because this album could have gotten an additional four single run easily. But despite the album having enough songs for an extensive single run, half of the album is utter filler. It's like her team didn't wanna let go of the heavy weighting towards the Latin pop cuts on On the 6, but also wanted to push the R&B / Pop cuts more, so we end up with an album which feels a little unbalanced, where the R&B / Pop cuts are not only the most dominant on the album, but are also the stronger cuts. The likes of "Ain't It Funny", "Cariño" and "Dame (Touch Me)" aren't bad, but they probably aren't going to be the songs on the album that you remember. The remix version of "Ain't It Funny" has already completely eclipsed the original to the point where there are people that don't even know it's a remix. There are instances where we get some cool fusions, such as "We Gotta Talk", "Dance With Me" and (it's a stretch, but) "That's the Way". But I guess Epic records weren't willing to take the risk of not including the songs which throwback to Jennifer and Selena. At least not before they knew they could.

Album review: Jennifer Lopez - J.Lo | Random J Pop

I wondered if there was even any point in talking about Jennifer Lopez's vocals, but I don't see how I can not. The bitch can't sing. Her vocals are completely toneless. On some songs, Jennifer isn't even in the right key. "Walking on Sunshine" is my jam, but having Jennifer's be produced by fucking Mario Winans!? Okay then. I can't think of a single song where Jennifer is fully in the pocket. The early 2000s was that point in music where Hip-Hop was (once again) influencing chart Pop and R&B in terms of how artists sang on songs. The flow was faster, and artists were in competition to see how many words they could cram into bars. J.Lo got caught in this with certain songs, and Jennifer doesn't sound great. What saves a bunch of these songs is the songwriting and the production which is so strong that Jennifer Hopelez can't ruin them no matter how flat, off and far off of any musical scale she is. Then there's the fact that on pretty much every song, the vocals on the choruses aren't even hers. Producers didn't even bother bringing in session singers or backing vocalists who at least sound a little bit like Jennifer Lopez. But I admire Jennifer's audacity, because whilst she isn't singing a damn thing on any of the choruses, she's giving us ad-libs all over the joint. She sounds terrible. But bitch, I know every ad-lib on "I'm Real" and "That's The Way". I have to hand it to her. She really didn't give a fuck on this album and said 'You gon' hear me on this song'.

Album review: Jennifer Lopez - J.Lo | Random J Pop

We can all drag Jennifer Lopez's singing talent and how her A&R be stealing people's songs and copy and pasting others until we're blue in the face. But she really was and still remains a blueprint for many American Latin Pop stars. On the 6 was the breakthrough album that put Jennifer on the map, but J.Lo was the album that cemented that she wasn't going anywhere, much to Mariah Carey's dismay. Whilst J.Lo on the whole is a better album than One the 6, the biggest jump isn't the musical quality, but the way in which Jennifer carried her self with this album. She truly stepped into being a pop star with an album that released in the perfect storm: at the ascent of the Latin Pop explosion in the US and UK, at a time when there were no big Pop stars with albums to compete with and her high profile relationship with Piff-Puff Didaddy.

To this day J.Lo is one of Jennifer Lopez's better albums. The sound was a great mix of styles that managed to cut right the way across all types of radio and music fanbases. Whilst the album gave Jennifer Lopez a foothold in music, it also boosted her confidence. Sure, it lead to future albums where she bit off far more than she could chew, but sometimes that's how a bitch has to learn.

Whilst many may struggle to remember the names of Jennifer Lopez albums which came after, and the singles she releases these days are far from memorable and all sound the damn same, J.Lo is harder to elude. After all, the album title is what we all refer to Jennifer Lopez as by name now.


■ Love Don't Cost a Thing
■ I'm Real
■ Walking on Sunshine
■ Come Over
■ We Gotta Talk
■ That's The Way 🏆 J's fave
■ Dame (Touch Me)