Two decades ago, Jennifer Lopez made her official foray into music with her debut album On The 6. After heightened success as the star in the 1997 biopic Selena, she released the album — an amalgamation of chart-friendly pop mixed with dance floor-ready R&B and Latin soul — on June 1, 1999. Its title and sonic influences were nods to her roots, specifically the 6 train which runs from her native Bronx to other parts of New York City. On the second night of her sold-out stint at Los Angeles’ The Forum (June 8), the triple threat not only celebrated twenty years of infectious earworms with a two-and-a-half-hour set but hosted a lavish birthday celebration as proof of how far Jenny from the block has come.
A montage of J.Lo’s iconic career opened the show, depicting the former Fly Girl from In Living Color reminiscing on her milestones from humble beginnings to motherhood. “I was just a dancer from New York and I was trying to make it,” she said in the video. That hustle manifested into superstardom as she pumped out albums, tours, movies, fashion and beauty franchises that have kept her brand — and cash flow — from going stagnant.
As a summer-long pregame for her real-life birthday, Lopez set the Party off with a decadent Moët & Chandon champagne bottle parade and 20 dancers in tow (including finalists from her dance show World of Dance, Swing Latino, season two winners The Lab and dancer Briar Nolet). “Everyone’s a VIP member,” her DJ proclaimed as Lopez proceeded to host an extravaganza that could only be described as balling with no budget. With roughly eight wardrobe changes, cinematic vignettes that provided opportune moments to switch ‘fits, elaborate sets, and enough confetti showers to rival New York’s Times Square on New Year’s Eve, Lopez made every attendee feel like it was his or her life’s anniversary, too.
For those still hung up on the 2000s, J.Lo catered to the day-ones with updated versions of her early hits. Her inaugural hit “If You Had My Love” set the mood for a burlesque performance that included a sultry lap dance from her and two dancers for a lucky male audience member. She also worked a hefty, black chaise chair with a steamy striptease that quenched the thirst of anyone at the show without a beverage. This later transitioned into a candlelit performance of Drake’s Scorpion slow jam “Teenage Fever,” which sampled the 1999 song and perhaps, served as a gratuitous thank you to the 6 God for showing love. “Waiting For Tonight” ditched the green laser aesthetic from the iconic video for a more vibrant, Pride Month-friendly set-up as Lopez slipped into a lime green catsuit and her dancers vogued ball-style in neon colored outfits that exposed their taut bods.
Never shying away from her hip-hop swag, several numbers saluted her rap ties like the J.Lo and Ja Rule collaborations “I’m Real” and “Ain’t It Funny” triggered instant nostalgia of Juicy Couture velour suits and dog days at the local park. The LOX-assisted “Jenny From The Block” featured Lopez in a cheeky jumpsuit and shimmery New York fitted cap. She broke it down to French Montana’s “Shot Caller” and the song’s sampled classics: 20th Century Steel Band’s “Heaven and Hell is on Earth” and Boogie Down Productions’ “South Bronx.” More contemporary jams like the money-loving anthem “Dinero” (with featured guest and fellow Bronx boo, Cardi B, projected against a backdrop of a golden bank vault) the rump-shaker “Booty,” and a random but here-for-it dance performance to Blueface’s “Thotiana” also got the crowd hype.
Any J.Lo set would be remiss without an emotional segment that harps on her incessant campaign of positivity. After slipping on a voluminous red gown, Lopez slowed down the tempo to deliver a rendition of “Limitless” off the soundtrack for her 2018 rom-com Second Act mashed up with David Guetta and Sia’s powerhouse number “Titanium.” To tug at heartstrings even more, Lopez’s daughter Emme joined her mother onstage and flaunted her vocal chops in an impressive sing-off. The night’s leading lady also admitted that birthdays, especially big ones (she turns 50 in July), often prompt deep self-reflection.
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After covering one of her favorite songs “Gravity” by Sara Bareilles, Lopez launched into a mini-TED Talk on perseverance. “Even though [“Gravity” is] a love song, it’s about a struggle. Life is like that,” she said. “But somehow, we always find our way back to ourselves when we make it through its tough times. You get to a certain point in your life and people start asking you for advice. It’s like, ‘What have you learned? Give me some secrets. What do you wanna teach your children? What do you want them to know?’
“And I always say, I just want them to know they can do whatever they want to do or they can be whoever they want to be,” she continued. “Life gon’ be hard sometimes and they’re gonna fall down but they gon’ get right back up and mommy’s always gonna be right there.” She turned her attention to the fans, injecting them with the same can-do attitude. “In some of the toughest times I’ve had, when I have fallen down, you guys have helped me get right back up. I want everybody to know that because we’ve really been on this journey together, haven’t we?” she asked. “Something I’ve learned… It took a long time for me, maybe just this year, it really clicked in, is that you can really do whatever you want to do.”
With her toast-worthy speech a wrap, Lopez resumed her boogie-down bash, bringing the funk with “Hold It Don’t Drop It” before repping for all the Latinos in the house with a medley of her Spanish-language bops like her verse on Nio García, Darell and Casper Mágico’s 2017 smash “Te Bote” as well as the Bad Bunny duet “Te Guste.” While Lopez has since secured a diamond from her now-fiancee Alex Rodriguez, “El Anillo” still rang off (pun intended) in the arena.
After shaking what her momma gave her all night, Lopez brought a different type of cake for the finale. After burning what was probably several hundred calories during performances of the club bangers “Dance Again” and “On The Floor,” she returned in a nude bodysuit surrounded a flurry of showgirl feathers as the centerpiece of a three-tiered structure mirroring a wedding cake. It was a fitting encore for a 49-year-old woman who has spent her entire career chasing her passions, even if the risks yielded some type of personal loss or failure both in private and in the public eye. Being an entertainer who can pull off a soirée of this magnitude across the country (while juggling motherhood, an acting career, and other entrepreneurial endeavors) requires the type of confidence only afforded by those who know and trust themselves. As pyrotechnics lit up the stage and metallic streamers and oversized white balloons fell from the ceiling, one particular J.Lo one-liner from the night mirrored her life in that moment. “I’m from the Bronx and this is my party,” she said. “I can do what I want.”
It’s My Party Tour Set List
Love Don’t Cost A Thing
I’m Real (Remix)
Ain’t It Funny (Remix)
Jenny From The Block
If You Had My Love
Teenage Fever (Drake original)
Gravity (Sara Bareilles original)
Titanium (David Guetta featuring Sia original)
Ain’t Your Mama
All I Have
Hold It Don’t Drop It
Te Bote 2 (Nio García, Darell and Casper Mágico original)
The Ring (“El Anillo”)
Waiting For Tonight
On The Floor
Let’s Get Loud