Album Review: Jennifer Lopez - This Is Me...Now

Vinyl of Jennifer Lopez ‘This Is Me…Now’, laying on a dark green surface.  The cover art for ‘This Is Me…Now’ features a close-up of Jennifer Lopez, with her hands on her hair and in her hair as it surrounds her and takes up the rest of the frame.

When Jennifer Lopez said ‘It’s been ten years since my last album’, my immediate reaction was ‘Ain’t no way!?’. Because I coulda sworn it was only a few years ago that she’d released the album that had the “Booty” song on it. So, I Googled — as though this piece of information is something Jennifer Lopez herself would get wrong in a filmed interview — and indeed, it had been a whole ten years since the release of her last studio album, A.K.A.

Time is as strange as Jennifer Lopez’s music career. Because I truly could not believe it had been ten years since her last album. The same way I cannot believe that it’s been almost four years since Thanos snapped his fingers and gave half the world COVID. The same way I frequently forget that between the release of “Get Right” and all of those damn Pitbull songs, that Jennifer Lopez was still releasing music. Many (me included) punk on Jennifer Lopez every now and then. But the early 2000s was such a staple moment in music and Hollywood history, and Jennifer Lopez contributed to that. But whilst Jenny claims that she’s still from the block, everything around the block has changed and evolved. And rather than evolve with it, Jennifer Lopez decided to just do what she did twenty years ago, with no real consideration of how it would sit in a world which has changed so much since then. Credit to Jennifer where it’s due. Because she did make some attempt at change during that period where I frequently forget she was still releasing music. Very little of it managed to catch on however. And as a bystander, it was easy to see where Jennifer Lopez was going wrong and what may have been happening. And it somewhat mirrors her approach to This Is Me…Now.


Fierce tenacity and unfortunate delusion.

Jennifer had a pretty solid four album run with On the 6, J.Lo, This Is Me…Then and Rebirth. Five if you include J to tha L–O! The Remixes. But from 2006, things in music were starting to shift. The early 2000s gloss? It quickly became dated. And people were over it. And many of the artists for whom this was their entire brand, they really struggled to transition out of it and find what their image and sound was without it. Then there was Jennifer, who managed to come out the other side of it with “Get Right”, a fourth album, and it worked for her. I think many people were surprised that Jennifer Lopez had even made it to a fourth album. But this string of success may have given Jennifer a false sense of security, which resulted in her drinking her own Kool-Aid.

Four albums deep — five if you include the remix album — all of them are hits. Pretty much all of the singles are hits. Jennifer probably felt like she had the midas touch. So, she started to mess with the formula and experiment for Brave and the oft delayed Love? — only to be met with declining sales, singles which didn’t stick, and her name barely staying in the music news cycles. It seemed like the audience she had acquired during her On the 6 to Rebirth run just wasn’t there for her anymore. People liked Jennifer Lopez as a celebrity during this period, but there was no real investment in Jennifer Lopez as a pop star. Now that I think of it, I wonder if mass audiences ever truly took her seriously as a bonafide pop star. The early 2000s was a time when as long as the song sounded good, radio would play it and people would buy it. There were so many acts out at that time all releasing music, all performing on TV, all dropping music videos. We were spoilt for choice. There wasn’t a great deal of focus on what was bad, because everybody was just enjoying the amount of choice. Nobody was really concerning themselves with who would still be releasing music in ten years time; but I’m sure that those who did, certainly didn’t expect Jennifer Lopez to be one of them. Jennifer Lopez was smart though — because with her, it was never just about the music. So much of the discussion around Jennifer Lopez had little to do with the actual music at all. It was about what she was wearing. Who she was dating. What Mariah Carey had said. How her films did at the box office. But at least the music was good.

All of the above is relevant to lay on the table when getting into This Is Me…Now, because it’s a case of learned lessons, repeated mistakes and not being able to tell the wood for the trees. On one hand Jennifer Lopez REALLY gets it and is self aware. But on the other hand, she seems completely unaware.

A shot from the photoshoot for Jennifer Lopez’s album ‘This Is Me...Now’. Jennifer is wearing a flesh coloured bodysuit with red flowers on it, as she looks into the camera. Photographed by Norman Jean Roy.
Jennifer Lopez - This Is Me...Now | Nuyorican Productions, Inc.

Brave and Love? were rough periods for Jennifer Lopez. Both scuppered by false starts, pushbacks and a waning global interest in her. Things looked up with “On the Floor”. But after releasing a single produced by Stargate (which was a sure fire way to bag a hit back between 2007 and 2011) only for it to flop — Jennifer went right back to releasing generic-ass dance songs with Pitbull, which came with its own problems. But we’ll get to this.

After a period of floundering and seeming a bit lost, This Is Me…Now is a welcomed return to form for Jennifer Lopez. She has said that she feels it could be her last album, and I genuinely feel that it’s a good enough album to go out on. It’s very much in the vein of what I feel people want from Jennifer Lopez’s music, and it seems like an effort was made to craft an album of songs FOR her, as opposed to a collection of songs which were all intended for somebody else at some point. Because the whole ‘This song was meant for somebody else but J.Lo ended up with it / stole it / took it, etc’ and ‘She ain’t singing on her own songs’ narrative is one which has plagued Jennifer’s music career. But here, you can hear there was a concentrated effort to make Jennifer’s vocals the most prominent on every song. And that a lot of this album was built from the ground up around her.

Two things about Jennifer Lopez, she’s always going to have the nerve and the audacity. Fuck the talent. Everybody knows that this woman cannot sing. And it’s fine. We all accept it, because J.Lo is gonna give us a good song. Ain’t nobody refusing to move in the club to “Waiting for Tonight” because they are not feeling the vocals. And whilst Jennifer Lopez has been spotted at Stevie Mackey’s ‘Taco Tuesdays’, spent a lot of time around SINGERS as a result and also has Stevie Mackey as her vocal coach — her singing has gotten no better since she was feelin’ so good on the 6 train. But her nerve kinda has. There are many moments across This Is Me...Now where Jennifer is trying to reach for notes that she can’t hit and do things with her voice that it simply cannot do. And d’ya know what? I don’t mind it. It’s kinda cool to actually hear a bitch trying. If I were her producer and sound engineer, I certainly wouldn’t have picked some of the takes which were chosen for this album. But at least nobody can say that Jennifer didn’t try, and I admire that she bothered and that I can hear the effort.

There was a period in Jennifer Lopez’s career where it seemed like she could not possibly do any wrong. She was delivering hits. She was bouncing back from movie flops. Everybody was still talking about the size of her ass. Still talking about that Versace dress. Who she was dating always made the news. Jennifer Lopez really was the girl who was always in the papers and the magazines. Her name was always right there alongside some of the biggest names, both in the tabloids and also on the charts. But over the past decade or so, things have really shifted, and Jennifer has become the butt of jokes. Jokes of which have unfortunately become part of her legacy. And in an age where content is king and everybody and their mother’s cousin has a YouTube account and some editing software, it’s easy for people to put together little ‘Do you remember when J.Lo…’ type videos. Supercuts of all the times somebody shaded her. Supercuts of all the times she hit flat notes. The talk of skullduggery when it came to Tommy Mottolla sabotaging Mariah Carey’s career to fuel Jennifer Lopez’s seems to have become more fervent in the age of social media, despite it not being new news. Jennifer’s failure to have a TikTok catch on, because of how ridiculously out of touch it made her look — something she is FAR better at now. Singers such as Ashanti contributing vocals to Jennifer Lopez’s songs to such a capacity they shoulda been credited as features is also something which pops up regularly. So many of these things relating to Jennifer’s music has really dented what little credibility she had as a ‘music artist’. And now there’s resurfaced comments that Ayo Edibiri made on a podcast about how Jennifer Lopez’s career is a scam. All of these things have done some form of damage to Jennifer Lopez, regardless of whether she addresses it or not. So I feel that no matter how good an album she puts out, she’s never going to be able to outrun any of this shit. It’s a cloud which will always hang over her music. People on the Internet be terrible. And everything being able to live forever online is scary for all of us. But I feel Jennifer Lopez has always done a great job of not really addressing any of it. But the problem is, that everything Jennifer does to steer a conversation from one thing, becomes a whole other conversation which creates the cycle of ‘Ya see?’. And This Is Me…Now does exactly this. Because I think making this whole thing so explicitly about her relationship with Ben Affleck was a mistake and doesn’t do what she may have thought it would do.

A shot from the photoshoot for Jennifer Lopez’s album ‘This Is Me...Now’. Featuring a close-up of Jennifer has she looks into the camera. Photographed by Norman Jean Roy.
Jennifer Lopez - This Is Me...Now | Nuyorican Productions, Inc.

There’s a disconnect with this album. This Is Me…Now is geared towards people who know Jennifer Lopez’s history far back enough to remember This Is Me…Then. Because the only ‘full circle’ thing about the album aside from its sound (which feels more reminiscent of J.Lo and Rebirth anyway) is that she’s back with Ben Affleck. And…that’s kind of it. Had Jennifer had put all of the pieces together in a way which was a celebration of her and her music, rather than just her relationship with Ben Affleck, it would have landed far better. Because regardless of how some feel about Jennifer Lopez'a career, it deserves to be celebrated by her. She's more than earned that.

Making the whole thing so Ben Affleck-centric perpetuates an unfortunate narrative that so much of what Jennifer Lopez has done over the years has centred on men or had a man in a place of focus. The J.Lo album will always be tied to her relationship with P. Diddy. The J.Lo remix album will always be tied to Ja Rule. This is Me…Then will always be tied to her relationship with Ben Affleck. Como Ama una Mujer will always be tied to her relationship with Marc Anthony. Her releases during the early 2010s will always be tied to them all featuring Pitbull. And now, here we are with This is Me…Now, which will always be tied to Ben Affleck.

Like, gurl. You’re saying this might be your last album, but you want to make it all about your man and not you!? After putting out a whole film which shows how your relationships don’t last and that you keep moving onto the next!?

Love your man and be proud about it. Treat the shit like it’s going to be forever. There is something genuinely sweet and heartfelt about The Return of Bennifer, and that you can fall back in love with somebody years after you fell in love the first time. But then I listen to the album and watch that film, and I can’t help but think to myself ‘Did we need all of this pomp and circumstance about it?’. Dedicating a song or two to Batman would have been fine. But to do ALL OF THIS!? It centres the wrong things. You can’t focus on the scale or the scope of the film, because you’re just like ‘What the fuck is happening here?’. It’s hard to focus on the music when you’re just like ‘What the fuck is happening here?’. It’s like outside of Jennifer Lopez being back with Ben Affleck, she doesn’t really know what story to tell. I would have taken a whole album and visual companion which was basically a Delola or a J.Lo Beauty commercial over this. At least both would be about her and something she made.

I get why Jennifer did this. I like that she is ‘reclaiming a narrative’. But it wasn’t a narrative she needed to reclaim publicly, because…there is nothing to reclaim. And her being back with somebody she dated 20 years ago is cute and all, but she doesn’t make any part of this story interesting — even with a Puerto Rican folktale thrown in. Bennifer Strikes Back should have been a thing in one music video and two songs at most. Not across a whole album and a whole film, because it runs out of steam far too quickly and it says so much of nothing. 

Jennifer and Ben are back together. Okay. And now what?

A shot from the photoshoot for Jennifer Lopez’s album ‘This Is Me...Now’. Jennifer is wearing a gold and diamond necklace, with a black dress with a plunging neckline. Photographed by Norman Jean Roy.
Jennifer Lopez - This Is Me...Now | Nuyorican Productions, Inc.

This Is Me…Now, surprisingly features no guest features outside of a remix of “Can’t Get Enough” which features Latto and a remix of “Rebound” which features Anuel AA and a remix of “This Time Around” which randomly features (G)I-dle. Jennifer Lopez raps A LOT on this album, and I wondered why that was the case. Until I realised it’s because there are no guest featured rappers. This used to be Jennifer’s thing…which was also Mariah’s thing — but that’s a whole other conversation. Whilst I commend Jennifer for the decision to not litter the album with guest features, I think this was the album where she should have. Jennifer Lopez choosing to load so many guest features into the film and not the music was a bizarre choice. Especially given the lack of connection that many of the guests in the film had to her (that we know of) and her story. Jane Fonda made sense, because of Monster-in-Law and the stories of them not getting along making the headlines. Fat Joe made sense because of “Feel So Good”. Also, he from the Bronx too. Jay Shetty made sense because he officiated her wedding to Ben Affleck. And Keke Palmer starred with Jennifer in Hustlers. But Kim Petras felt like the ticking of a ‘Trans and inclusivity’ checkbox. And Post Malone was thrown in because…the kids love Post Malone, I guess. Maybe Jennifer’s daughter is a fan. Maybe Ben is a fan.

If Jennifer really wanted to get people talking and reclaim a narrative, she should have had Ashanti and Christina Milian feature as part of the Zodiac counsel in her film or put them on a song in a guest featuring capacity. And if she wanted to further cash in on nostalgia, then she shoulda put Fat Joe on a song. And if she wanted to bridge the gap to the new generation and seem ‘hip’, then putting Kim Petras and Post Malone on songs would have been a better use of them. And if Jennifer wanted to fold Keke Palmer into her story in a way that felt meaningful, she should have featured her on the song “Rebound”, in light of the ghetto shit she’s going through with her baby daddy. Shit. She could have tried to have gotten Usher to feature on a song and in the video for the Dancing in the Rain segment of the film, which would have been a nod to them having a scene together in Hustlers, been a wink to those who know that “Get Right” was originally intended for Usher. And also the parallels of them having done a residency in Vegas and performed at a Super Bowl halftime show.

There are so many ways Jennifer could have included features on this album and in the film in a way which would have felt meaningful, honoured moments from her career and also gotten her those clicks. But instead, Jennifer chose to just stuff the film with guest stars for the sake of having guest stars and leave the album void of guest features — when it would have made sense to have included the musical guest features from the film on the songs too.

A shot from the photoshoot for Jennifer Lopez’s album ‘This Is Me...Now’. Featuring a close-up of Jennifer has she looks into the camera, whilst holding a rose, which is part of her dress. Photographed by Norman Jean Roy.
Jennifer Lopez - This Is Me...Now | Nuyorican Productions, Inc.

Jennifer wants to be taken seriously for her art, but she makes these odd decisions that make it difficult to really give her props for creativity and anything other than nerve and audacity. And it’s unfortunate. Because had she just put these really large scale and lavish music videos as singular music videos which weren’t attached to ‘The Rise of Bennifer’, I think they would have connected better with audiences. And if she had approached the album as a retrospective on herself and her career and not just ‘The Bennifer Awakens’, then I feel that the music would have connected better too.

Some people may argue ‘Well what about Beyoncé and Lemonade?’. But here’s the thing. The focus of Lemonade was not just that Jay-Z cheated. It was how Beyoncé navigated through the betrayal of him doing that. It’s hard to say that ‘Jay-Z was irrelevant in the story’, because of his popularity and how he is known as Beyoncé’s husband and nanny for the kids. But he kinda was inconsequential, in the sense that he only mattered because we knew who he was. But who cheated on Beyoncé wasn’t a factor in the story. But how it affected Beyoncé was. Also, the scenario of being cheated on is far more relatable than circling the block. We all know somebody who’s been cheated on, some of us may have been cheated on or done the cheating, and we’ve all read enough books, listened to enough listener letters on The Read and watched enough films and TV shows to know what it does to people. There was a relatability factor to Lemonade that This Is Me…Now just does not have. And then there is also the fact that Beyoncé had always put out songs about how her man ain’t shit. So a whole album about ‘My man ain’t shit, I shoulda shot his ass’ is on brand for her.

Jennifer Lopez did what she wanted with This Is Me…Now, which is great. So many artists don’t reach the point of being able to call the shots on what they’re going to do and how. But Jennifer seems to have this warped sense of how what she’s doing will be received. I feel strongly that how she wanted This Is Me…Now to be received and how it was received are two very different things. But I also feel that how Jennifer Lopez sees herself and how others see her are two different things. Because Jennifer having been married more than once and hopping from one relationship to the next is not something which is exclusive to her. Elizabeth Taylor did it. Ariana Grande out here doing it. People do it. And Jennifer Lopez’s dating timeline has not been a topic of mass tabloid conversation since that first Jenny from the Block album came out. But she made this whole ass album and film about it as though it continually has been. She’s chosen to define this whole album and herself as the person that she thinks the general public has defined her as. As though it’s still 2002.

Making This Is Me…Now a project about loving yourself enough to be able to love somebody else would have been a far better narrative than ‘I JUST WANNA BE IN LOVE AND I’M IN LOVE…NOW, WITH THE MAN I WAS IN LOVE WITH…THEN’. Because the film and the album touches on this, but it feels like a footnote when it should have been the whole story. And not in the framing of ‘When you love yourself, dick comes right back into your life’. Girl, no. I think the ‘If you ain’t gonna love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else’ notion would have resonated more with people. Not just because it’s a tagline which features in every episode of Drag Race (but also, yes). But because learning to love yourself takes real work and is a journey that everybody can relate to in some capacity. And something which has consistently been said about Jennifer Lopez is how much she loves herself, how much she believes in herself and how she’s always got the nerve. So Jennifer releasing an album where the messages were ‘I had to keep betting on myself, because nobody else would’, ‘I had to beat the odds to prove there’s a place in all of this for a girl like me’ and ‘I had learn to love myself and be okay with not being in relationship until I felt I was ready’ and not having any of it be about Ben Affleck or any man would have been more powerful and won more people over. I think it would have allowed people to actually identify with her and understand why she grinds the way she does. Because one of the stand out songs on the album is “Broken Like Me” — a very different song for Jennifer which can be interpreted in different ways. But even this is from the perspective of being in a relationship with somebody else and not the relationship with herself.

Jennifer’s drive to be successful and try to move forward are what Jennifer should have allowed herself to be defined by on this album. Because beneath all of the mess, the butt of the jokes, the shade thrown by Mariah Carey and the lambs and her inability to sing — I truly do think that something people have consistently attributed to Jennifer Lopez is the fact a bitch stays trying. It’s not her relationships. And the act of just putting this album and its accompanying film out are acts of her drive and her tenacity. But not enough of this is in the music, the film and the story she is presenting to us, and it really should have been.

A shot from the photoshoot for Jennifer Lopez’s album ‘This Is Me...Now’. Jennifer is wearing a gold and diamond necklace, with a black dress with a plunging neckline. Photographed by Norman Jean Roy.
Jennifer Lopez - This Is Me...Now | Nuyorican Productions, Inc.

I feel like I’ve barely spoken about the album in what is supposed to have been an album review. But Jenny done did this to herself by making This Is Me…Now what it is and releasing the film and the album at the same time — because the music isn’t the focus here at all. I really thought the film was going to be a bunch of music videos back to back with a loose narrative, like Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Black is King. But what it wound up being was a film with a couple of musical numbers. I was shocked at how much dialogue there was and how long some of these scenes went on for. They go on longer than the musical numbers. And the film only features half of the songs from the album.

Seeing what Jennifer did and failed to do with this album truly made me appreciate what Beyoncé did with Renaissance. She said ‘We’re just gonna focus on the music for now’ and it was a great idea. She delivered more and created bigger moments with just the music, than Jennifer managed to deliver with an album, a film and a documentary. Because so much was channelled into the songs to make them bigger than life and take on worlds of their own. And THIS is the element which is missing from the music on Jennifer’s album. This Is Me…Now is nowhere near as fun and as thrilling an album as Renaissance. And I use Renaissance specifically as an example, because the same level of ‘I’mma talk my shit’, ‘I’mma be the extra, superhero version of myself I want to see myself has’, ‘I’mma run myself my own flowers’ and ‘I’m gonna create this entire world for myself with this music’ are all things Jennifer should have tapped into with this album. Perhaps she tried to, but she just didn’t have the range and the right team around her to realise it all.

This Is Me…Now. is a good album. It’s very one note. But it’s still a good album. I just feel that Jennifer could have pushed everything about it so much more, because the person she is declaring she is…now sounds a lot like the person she was…then, back in 2002. This Is Me...Now was an opportunity for Jennifer Lopez to do something really cool. To re-introduce herself. To talk her own shit. To accept her own flowers. To touch on anecdotes she’d learned throughout life in regards to her career, from her previous relationships. But she didn’t do any of this at all. 90% of this album is songs about the exact same thing, written in the same type of way. The whole thing just feels kinda squandered. Jennifer’s heart was in the right place, but her mind was making the wrong decisions about what this whole project should be and how it should be executed.

One thing about This Is Me…Now — it is well produced. It’s not exciting. It’s nothing particularly special. But it is well produced and considerate of the strongest parts of Jennifer Lopez’s discography. Throwing her sound back to what she was initially known for was a great choice. And there are cool moments which seem to reference some of Jennifer’s earlier works. “This Time Around” featuring a similar timpani sequence that sounds like it could easily transition into “Love Don’t Cost a Thing”. “Can’t Get Enough” featuring a prominent sample, the same way that “I’m Real”, “Jenny from the Block” and “Get Right” did. “Dear Ben, Part II” being a direct follow-up to “Dear Ben” from This Is Me…Then. “Hearts and Flowers” referencing “Jenny from the Block” in a really cool line during her rap verse. And there is no song on the album that I think is particularly bad. But there also isn’t any one song I think is particularly amazing. “Broken Like Me” is gorgeous, but it would work better with somebody who could actually sing. “This Time Around” is fire and would make a great single, but it’s not a song which will stick years from now. “Hearts and Flowers” has a nice bounce to it, but everytime I listen to it, all I hear is “Hard” by Rihanna. And every other song on the album kinda just bleeds into one. There’s not much of a distinction between each of the songs, because a lot of them sound so alike. And the sequencing is also really odd. Songs such as “Hearts and Flowers” and “This Time Around” are in the tail end of the album, when they should have been at the top. “Hearts and Flowers” shoulda been the opening song just as it was in the film. I think if the album ran the songs with the narrative of realising what life is (“Hearts and Flowers”), realising what you thought was love was toxic (“Rebound”), realising what’s wrong (“Broken Like Me”), finding yourself again (“This Is Me…Now”), speaking what you want into existence (“This Time Around”), finding love again (“Can’t Get Enough”, “Mad in Love”) and then being in love with being in love (“Midnight Trip to Vegas” and “To Be Yours”) the album would have felt more like a story told in order, with a beginning a middle and an end. Because when you’re listening to the album with its current sequencing, it just doesn’t flow right, because the album feels so back loaded. And much like the film, the ending feels like it comes out of nowhere and doesn’t feel like an ending at all.

Side note. I have a Spotify playlist which is resequencing of this album: 🔊 Jennifer Lopez - This Is Me Now (Revised Edition)

This Is Me…Now is a good album. After years of struggling to land with any of her new music, This Is Me…Now is a nice reminder that Jennifer can still deliver something good after all of these years and that she knows what her lane is in terms of her sound. But I do think that the wonky period with Brave, Love? and A.K.A went on for so long, seemed so utterly misguided and as though Jennifer Lopez was kinda done and a relic of a foregone era, that it’s going to be difficult for her to come back from that. No matter how good an album she puts out. And This Is Me…Now is pretty good. It’s nothing great. But by J.Lo standards, it’s good. But this is the problem. ‘J.Lo standards’ in 2024 can’t be what they were in 2002, because there are more acts in the game occupying a space which was once hers and hers alone. And a lot of these acts know who their audience is, where-as Jennifer doesn’t. And she’s trying to go with the nostalgia play for an audience who was never invested in her as a music star back then. And she chose to wrap this entire album in a narrative which is far more potent if you know of Jennifer’s relationship history and were invested in it since 2001. So many of the songs on this album either feel vague or as though they hinge on you knowing a detail which isn’t provided in the music, that once you’re done listening to the album, you feel like chunks of the story are missing. Versus albums like Beyonce’s Lemonade or Ariana Grande’s Eternal Sunshine, when you are given a story with a narrative which is easy to follow, has a beginning, a middle and an end and doesn’t require you to know any of the context other than what the music provides.

I struggle to think of who This Is Me…Now is supposed to be for other than Jennifer herself or her most hardcore fans. But Jennifer Lopez’s fanbase isn’t as potent as it was. Nor is it as dedicated as the fanbases of the other women in pop right now whose music continually trends, charts high and has everybody flocking to upload videos about how they feel about it. Music that actually makes people FEEL something.

If Jennifer Lopez made This Is Me...Now purely for herself, then great. As long as she likes and loves it, that’s all that matters. But I think she sold herself short with her approach to this album. This Is Me...Now should have been a celebration of Jennifer Lopez herself. Flowers are such a strong motif in this album, and yet Jennifer gave them all to Ben Affleck and not herself.

▪ Can’t Get Enough
▪ Hummingbird
▪ Hearts and Flowers
▪ Broken Like Me
▪ This Time Around 🏆