Jennifer Lopez is like the female Howard Stern. She’s a lot hotter, and I’m sure the sexual images one associates with Lopez are far more pleasant than those associated with Stern. Remember his self-bestowed title “King of all Media?” He claimed he had conquered the radio, television and the silver screen. Lopez has similar ambitions.
One could say she has in fact accomplished this feat. “The Wedding Planner” was the number one film at the box office, “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” was the number one single, AND J. Lo was the number one album, all in one weekend. Cultural critics may have predicted the coming total world apocalypse, but it was just Jen, atop her throne, where she likes to be.
The new manifestation of Lopez’s media infiltration is her remix album, J. to tha Lo. Her hit collaborations with Ja Rule on remixes of “Ain’t it Funny” and “I’m Real” accompany eight other DJ and rap/producer remixes of hits from J. Lo and her first album, On the Six. The name of her new release alone does invite a negative pre-judgement, but is it really C to tha Rizzap?
The disc starts off with a few stumbles. The “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” remix by RJ Schoolyard featuring Fat Joe is weak at best. It is essentially the original, with a different background beat and an added rap sequence. Big whoop. Same with the “If You Had My Love” redo. Then there’s the problem of the Lopez/Ja Rule partnership. Their chemistry works in the videos, and his gruff rap style complements her adept use of backup singers to achieve an on-key vocal airiness. But, correct me if I’m wrong here, what’s up with their remix tracks sounding exactly like each other? And just how do these tracks qualify as “remixes” when any elements of the original songs are completely absent?
The many expressions of Lopez’s creative energies are represented on this disc. We are reminded of her first album and the sumptuous, beauty-aesthetic of her videos. Her first foray into the music business was marked by the image she promoted of high-cheekbone, exotic beauty. Her videos featured sci-fi, gorgeous fantasy-scapes. J. Lo was a significant transformation in which she remade herself as a ghetto fabulous chica who hung with the blingy boys and made her own dough, a la the independent woman of Destiny’s Child. Both versions of Jennifer make their way into the remix, perhaps leading us to wonder: Will the next Jennifer prefer diamonds (ice) or pearls (no ghetto-speak equivalent)?
On the bright side, when Jennifer wants us to shake our booties, her dance remixes make it nearly impossible to NOT boogie down. “Waiting for Tonight,” already a strong original composition from On the Six, is excellent in its new form as “Hex’s Momentous Radio Mix.” Relatively unknown in its first edition, the “Walking on Sunshine” remix is also a welcome clubby pop addition. The extended remix of “Let’s Get Loud,” originally co-written by Gloria Estefan, is the album’s energy apex. If you don’t start bouncing when it comes on, you probably don’t have legs.
Jennifer’s sneak attack at the close of J. to tha Lo is a low moment indeed. Instead of one more semi-satisfying remix, she leaves us with a taste of unmistakably rotten cheese on our mouths. “Alive,” a ballad she co-wrote with husband and dancer Cris Judd, is laughably banal. It’s too bad, because overall, the album, while not tiz-ight, is certainly at least M to tha ediocre.