Before Jennifer Lopez landed the “role of a lifetime” in 1997 as the late Selena Quintanilla-Pérez in the biopic Selena, we were introduced to the aspiring singer-actress as Janet Jackson’s backup dancer in the video for “That’s The Way Love Goes” and as a Fly Girl on In Living Color, which was rooted in hip-hop culture.
Naturally, when Lopez ventured off into music, those influences followed her as an artist. “I love the hip-hop, I love the R&B; it’s gonna manifest itself in my music,” she told MTV News in 2013. Nearly 20 years after the release of On the 6, Lopez’s hip-hop collaborations have made her a familiar face within the community.
In celebration of the multi-faceted star’s 49th birthday this week, VIBE Viva ranked her greatest hip-hop tracks and moments throughout the decades.
Check it out below.
13. “I’m Glad” (2002)
Don’t let the elegant harp strings on “I’m Glad” fool you. The mid-tempo track samples Schoolly D’s “P.S.K. What Does It Mean?” Schoolly D has been recognized as the OG gangsta rapper; therefore, sampling anything from his discography proves that the World of Dance judge is a real G.
Co-written by Lopez herself, “I’m Glad” still goes hard to this day, and the accompanying Flashdance-inspired video ranks among her best.
12. “I’m Into You” feat. Lil Wayne (2011)
The island-flavored “I’m Into You” is hands down one of the most underrated songs of Lopez’s discography. And Lil Wayne’s clever wordplay is impressive, e.g., “You’re way too fly, I could be your jet fuel.” The second single released off Love? failed to crack the Top 40 in the U.S., which is absurd since “I’m Into You” is the perfect soundtrack for sipping piña coladas with the crew all summer. Reaching No. 9 on the U.K. Singles Chart, the Stargate-produced track further solidified Ms. Lopez’s international appeal.
11. “Get Right” (Remix) feat. Fabolous (2005)
Without a doubt, the lead single off Rebirth brought the funk, but Fabolous’ verse took it to the next level. “I ain’t Mr. Right, I’m Mr. Right Now,” he raps over those infectious horn riffs. Co-produced by On the 6 collaborator Corey Rooney, “Get Right” was a bit unorthodox at the time, but it translated into a classic J.Lo sound. Bonus points for the multiple characters (from a DJ to busy bartender to an exotic dancer) Lopez portrayed in the original video.
10. “Dinero” feat. Cardi B and DJ Khaled (2018)
Music lovers nearly lost their minds when rumors started swirling that J.Lo and Cardi B were joining forces for a dream collaboration and they did not disappoint when the single officially dropped. In a nutshell, “Dinero” is the ultimate hustler’s anthem, with production notes from DJ Khaled.
On the fiery track, Lopez flaunts her millions and flexes her rapping skills at the same time. “They say money talk/but my talking bilingual,” she declares in the second verse. As expected, Ms. Belcalis Almanzar does her thing, offering fans a glimpse into her fabulous life. But the former Love & Hip-Hop: New York star stays true to her roots, e.g., “Two bad bitches that came from the Bronx/Cardi from the pole and Jenny from the block.” Iconic.
9. “Control Myself” with LL Cool J (2006)
J.Lo and Uncle L’s musical chemistry was so amazing the first time around in “All I Have” in 2002 that the duo reunited four years later on “Control Myself,” an homage to hip-hop’s golden era. Case in point: The beat samples and the vocals interpolate Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force’s “Looking for the Perfect Beat” and “Planet Rock,” which automatically places this collab in the Top 10.
8. “Jenny From the Block” (Trackmasters Remix) feat. Jadakiss and Styles (2002)
By the time Jenny’s This Is Me… Then hit store shelves, the Bronx-bred superstar was still riding high off the success of making history as the first entertainer to have a No. 1 movie and album in the same week with The Wedding Planner and J.Lo, which produced the hits “Love Don’t Cost A Thing,” “I’m Real” and “Play.”
However, Lopez set out to prove that fame and fortune haven’t changed her. She enlisted Jadakiss and Styles from The L.O.X. to create the now-iconic “Jenny From the Block” — a precursor to 2014’s “Same Girl” — which utilizes Boogie Down Productions’ “South Bronx.” “I stay grounded as the amounts roll in,” she insists on the first verse. It’s impossible not to sing into your hairbrush whenever this bop comes on.
7. “All I Have” feat. LL Cool J (2002)
Lopez’s dazzling Las Vegas residency is fittingly named after her smash hit “All I Have,” which stayed at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for four consecutive weeks. Built around a sample of Debra Laws’ classic R&B ballad “Very Special,” Jen and LL deserve an award for their superb portrayal of soon-to-be ex-lovers as they go back and forth over calling it quits. When the rap legend pleas, “Pride is what you had, baby girl, I’m what you have,” Jennifer’s reaction is savage AF: “You’ll be needing me but too bad.”
6. “I’m Gonna Be Alright” (Trackmasters Remix) feat. Nas (2002)
Containing replayed elements of Luniz’s “I Got 5 On It,” the third and final single off J to tha L-O! The Remixes isn’t your average breakup anthem. The entertainer shows resilience on “I’m Gonna Be Alright,” which features rap titan Nas. The Trackmasters remix peaked at No. 10 on the charts during the summer of ‘02, and it went on to become Lopez’s sixth Top 10 hit. With its haunting melody and lyrics depicting an unhealthy relationship, the slowed down tempo on “I’m Gonna Be Alright” allows listeners to get deep in their feelings.
5. J.Lo and Diddy’s VMA Red Carpet Appearance (2000)
Lopez and then-boyfriend Diddy became the most stylish VMA couple of all time when they walked the red carpet on Sept. 7, 2000. The Bronx Barbie turned heads in an all-white ensemble that included big hoop earrings, a bedazzled bandana and a Sean John crop top. On the brink of becoming a global phenomenon, Lopez walked away with her first Moonman that night, but the actress-turned-singer’s appearance with the hip-hop mogul gave her street credibility.
4. Cameo in Diddy’s “Been Around the World” with The Notorious B.I.G. and Mase (1997)
J.Lo knows how to make an entrance. When the Nuyorican bombshell appears as Princess of Tunisia (a fictional country) in then-Puff Daddy’s “Been Around the World” video, the storyline suddenly becomes more interesting. The pair’s sultry dance sequence (skip to 8:12) went on to become an unforgettable moment in pop culture.
3. “Ain’t It Funny”(Murder Remix) feat. Ja Rule and Caddillac Tah (2002)
Craig Mack’s “Flava In Ya Ear” turns 25 next year, but it’s still one of the most recognized tracks in hip-hop history. It also laid the foundation for the “Ain’t It Funny” remix, which was released as the lead single off 2002’s J to tha L-O! The Remixes. The original version first appeared on Lopez’s sophomore album, and it took a Latin approach.
“This song was totally different, but it was still about the same thing,” Lopez explained to Sway Calloway during an interview that was featured in 2003’s The Reel Me. “Ain’t it funny that you wanted this and now fate has brought us to the point where I don’t want you no more.” The latter served as the premise for the remix, which became her third chart-topper. Within the first five seconds, Ja shouts “It must be the a** that got me like that,” referring to J.Lo’s famous derriere, which set the tone for the entire record.
2. “I’m Real” (Murder Remix) feat. Ja Rule (2001)
The original and the remixed versions of “I’m Real” are as different as day and night, but it’s also the secret sauce behind the massive success that followed both songs. Featured on the reissue of 2001’s J.Lo, the remix marked Lopez’s foray into hip-hop music. Jen’s soft coos and “R-U-L-E’s” gruff flow are a surprisingly perfect match on “I’m Real,” which samples Rick James’ “Mary Jane” and Mary Jane Girls’ “All Night Long.” The formula worked because it instantly became a summer anthem. Oh, and Lopez’s Juicy Couture pink velour tracksuit was (and still is) epic.
1.“Feelin’ So Good” feat. Fat Joe and Big Pun (1999)
Before #GoodVibesOnly was a hashtag, “Feelin’ So Good” was all that and then some. The hip hop-coated track brought balance to On the 6, which mainly consisted of ballads and mid-tempo songs. It borrows from Strafe’s popular 1984 hit “Set It Off,” giving the record its old-school hip-hop vibe. Furthermore, Fat Joe and the late Big Pun’s verses are nothing short of rap perfection. J.Lo, Pun and Joey Crack coming together on one track is a moment to cherish, especially since Pun died a few days after the single was released.
Produced by Sean “Diddy” Combs, the feel-good song only reached No. 51 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it paved the way for Lopez to be able to work with the likes of other high-profile rappers, including Rick Ross, T.I., Flo Rida, Pitbull and French Montana. “Feelin’ So Good” is a quintessential J.Lo record because it’s all about living life to the fullest, which seems to be Lopez’s personal motto.
Princess Gabbara is a multimedia journalist and storyteller. She’s a former reporter for the Lansing State Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network, who has written for outlets such as BitchMedia.org, Shondaland, Bustle, The Boombox, Ebony magazine, Jetmag.com, Essence, Sesi, and Greatist. Follow her on Twitter/Instagram: @PrincessGabbara.