“If I gave this album to my kids, let’s say in 20 years from now, you know, this is me… then," Jennifer Lopez said in one of the promo plugs for her third studio album This is Me… Then released in November 2002.
At the time Jennifer Lopez was in a high-profile relationship with Ben Affleck, Hollywood’s Golden Boy, and their relationship served as the main inspiration for the album. While their relationship didn't last, the celebrity couple eventually found their way back to each other and recently tied the knot in Las Vegas 18 years after their first romance failed.
In her On The J Lo blog titled "WE DID IT!", Lopez wrote about her wedding to Affleck: "We did it. Love is beautiful. Love is kind. And it turns out love is patient. Twenty years patient. Love is a great thing—maybe the best of things—and worth waiting for."
In honor of their recent nuptials, let’s take a stroll down memory lane by listening again to some of the tracks from JLo's studio album released twenty years ago and see how the songs hold up today, now that Bennifer are an item again.
This is Me… Then
You can’t deny the fact that Jennifer Lopez was one of the most influential celebrities in the early 2000’s. As a Latina who starred in box-office movies and sold millions of albums worldwide, a lot of women looked up to her and she served as an inspiration to many to pursue their dreams.
On the other hand, male fans considered her as their ‘ideal woman’. With Bennifer rocking the entertainment scene, supporters of the two A-listers were rooting for their relationship to last.
This is Me… Then, JLo’s third studio album released by Epic Records on November 25, 2002 was one of her most personal ones. How personal? Even if you’re a casual listener, you’ll really feel that she was so in love while working on the album. The album was also a bit more relaxed compared to her first two with less booty shaking tunes and more songs that tug at the heartstrings.
Jenny from the Block
From In Living Color to movie scripts to On the 6 to JLO, our beloved diva made an effort to stay humble and grounded despite the fact that she was considered a superstar during that time.
As revealed in her recent Netflix documentary Halftime, the media and paparazzi always followed her wherever she went and it got more intense when she and Ben Affleck came out publicly with their romance. The music video for Jenny From The Block is like a mini-mockumentary showing how the couple’s privacy was invaded and the cost of fame to their relationship. While Affleck and Lopez eventually got engaged following the album's release, they called off the ceremony in 2003 after being hounded by the media.
Jenny From the Block served as the lead single for the album, and the song is now considered one of her most iconic hits. A lot of dancers grooved to the tune, but the music video also received some backlash and at one point, Ben mentioned that he regretted filming it. Fans even said that his appearance ruined his then booming career. Thankfully, both of them are still active and thriving as far as their movie and music careers are concerned.
All I Have
JLo's second single is All I Have, which automatically gives off winter vibes. Prior to the release of the album, JLo collaborated with rappers such as Ja Rule and Fat Joe in songs like Feelin’ so Good, I’m Real and Ain’t it Funny. This time, she collaborated with LL Cool J. This song is for the brokenhearted on what should be the happiest time of the year. A lot of music critics included this song as one of the best duets of all time. It also samples the song Very Special by Debra Laws. The song manages to give listeners a sense of comfort despite the song's lyrics talking about being hurt and having to move on after a breakup.
All my pride is all I have
Pride is what you had, baby girl I'm what you have
You'll be needing me but too bad
Be easy, don't make decisions while you're mad
The path you chose to run alone
I know you're independent, you can make it on your own
Here with me you had a home (Oh yeah)
But time is of the essence, why spend it alone.
I’m Glad served as the third single from the album. Originally, Jennifer wanted it to be the lead single, but Sony Music executive Tony Mottola preferred Jenny From The Block because of its commercial appeal. I guess he was right because I’m Glad didn’t meet the success of JLo's first two singles from the album.
I personally loved the music video because Jen channeled her inner Jennifer Beals from the 1983 dance movie Flashdance and managed to show her acting prowess. In the music video, Jennifer plays the role of a young dancer who auditions for a part. Though she looked simple at first, she managed to transform into a fearless, confident dancer who wowed the judges. The music video made a lot of fans interested to watch the original movie that it paid homage to. In fact, there was a clamor for JLo to do a remake of the classic movie, but it never materialized. Well, we now have 2019’s Hustlers.
Did you know that the song was played when Ben proposed to Jen for the first time? My favorite part of the song is when she sang "I think I’m in love. Damn, Finally!"
Baby, I Love U!
Baby, I Love U! is the fourth and final single from the album. Obviously, this is a profession of love to her special someone (then and now). In the video, Jennifer appears in her simplest look. Love and contentment gave her a natural glow – no makeup needed! From the lyrics alone, you can sense that she is soooo in love with her ‘baby’. Probably by the time of the release, people had enough of her declaration of love for Ben that it didn’t do too well on the charts. But if you listen to it now and you’re in love, you'll appreciate the sincerity of this track.
Now let’s discuss the other ‘Ben Tracks’ in the album.
Personally, The One is my favorite track from the album when it was released and it even became my LSS for a time. I love the part where she sang “I’m happy to say that in many ways you’ve changed me. It made me smile when you said you were glad the day you found me...”. As a teenager at the time of the song's release, I found it sweet and hoped to find ‘the one’ for me at the right time. Add the fact that she sampled the Stylistics hit You are Everything and recorded a separate version with the original chorus which my mom loved.
I believe you and me have a chance to make this right
Oh, baby, if your heart is in it, I'm still with it
Even after all this time has passed
Oh, I'm still loving you – Jennifer Lopez, Loving You
Loving You best describes the rollercoaster ride of emotions the couple felt throughout their journey then and now with the third verse describing their second chance at love. No matter what you say about Jennifer and her past relationships, you can't question how this woman loves a man. She really falls deeply in love and she’s not afraid to show it. The way the she sampled MTume’s Juicy Fruit and George Benson’s Never Give Up on a Good Thing gives that nostalgic high feeling.
'Again' and 'I've Been Thinkin'
Again and I’ve Been Thinkin’ are tracks where she reflects deeper on her current relationships. No love story is perfect (Bennifer is proof), but this woman is willing to give her all to make it work. It also tackles some of the concerns of women who are in this stage of a romantic relationship. Underrated ballads to be honest.
I write this song to let you know
That you will always be
My lust, my love, my man, my child, my friend, and my king
I love you, you're perfect
A manifestation of my dreams
You make my body feel
About a million different things
There's no way I'd leave you, it is not a reality
Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a fantasy – Jennifer Lopez, Dear Ben
Last but not the least, there’s Dear Ben. Originally titled Perfect, JLo decided to change the title to Dear Ben a day before the scheduled printing of the album. If I were in Ben Affleck’s shoes, I’d be over the moon knowing that there’s someone willing to let the world know how much she loves me. As they say, when you love a musician, you are immortalized through their songs.
Now that Ben and Jennifer are officially married, they must be giggling now as they reminisce the past twenty years. Both lived separate lives and encountered ups and downs in their career and family life and yet in the end, they found a way to be back in each other’s arms.
Cheers to the Bennifer Then… and now.