“Jenny From the Block” by Jennifer Lopez
By the time 2002 rolled around, Jennifer Lopez had established herself as an A lister in both the acting and musical fields. In other words, she was one of the most-popular entertainers in the world. But she was also someone who many people actually witnessed come up from relatively-humble beginnings as a dancer on In Living Color (whom she namedrops at the beginning of the first verse).
In fact by the time this song (“Jenny from the Block”) had come out, J-Lo had become one of the most-renowned individuals to participate on that star-studded program, being preceded only by Jim Carrey himself. Or, what we’re trying to get to is that fans of Lopez knew that, despite the status she had attained, verily she was from the ‘hood or “the block”, as it is referred to in this song.
“Jenny from the Block”
So sentimentally, the purpose of this track is to let listeners know that even though the songstress may have blown up into the atmosphere, J-Lo is “still” the same person she was when this all began. Simply put, she hasn’t let success, wealth and fame get to her head.
And yes, Jennifer does utilize a semi-braggadocious tone to get this point across. For instance, she acknowledges that she had been interviewed by Oprah herself, which isn’t a small thing. However, doing so also leads to what someone proclaiming to be “from the block” really entails.
Making such a statement isn’t so much about one’s economic background as it is he or she living up to the ideology of the ‘hood, which is to always keep it real. So even in the face of Oprah – who is like the most-influential journalist in the world – J-Lo still does not deviate from who she actually is.
So beyond being sort of a come-up song, that’s the idea which this track is meant to relay. Lopez is an artist who is proud to have come from the South Bronx. So wherever she goes, that’s the neighborhood that she’s repping.
And conclusively, it’s a bit challenging trying to derive a definitive thesis sentiment from this piece, for there are three main ideas being put across. Premise-wise it serves as J-Lo’s way of recognizing what can be deemed, all things considered, her own surprising success, especially as far as her music career was concerned.
Secondly, it is meant to illustrate that this major shift in her life hasn’t affected her internally. And lastly, the second sentiment has a lot to do with the songstress actually taking pride in where she came from.
Facts about “Jenny from the Block”
This track was produced by Cory Rooney, Troy Oliver and the Trackmasters (aka Poke & Tone). In doing so, they sampled four other songs, amongst them being Boogie Down Productions’ 1987 classic “South Bronx”. The intro also relies on “Heaven and Hell Is on Earth”, a 1975 track by an outfit called the 20th Century Steel Band that has actually been sampled pretty extensively throughout the years.
What is fundamentally the same instrumental as “Jenny from the Block” was used in on a single entitled “Watch Out Now” a couple of years prior to J-Lo and co. That song was put together by a hip-hop crew known as the Beatnuts. That is to say that the instrumental to both of these songs rely heavily on another entitled “Hi-Jack” which an artist named Enoch Light (1907-1978) dropped in 1975. In other words, that is where the flute part of both of the tracks is derived from.
And yes, the two instrumentals do sound almost identical to each other, even though the Beatnuts, who produced their own song, wasn’t acknowledged on J-Lo’s piece. So with that in mind, they ended up getting pretty pissed off at Lopez and the track’s producers, as “Jenny from the Block” did prove to be monumentally more successful than “Watch Out Now”.
And “Jenny from the Block” was written by a Sony Music employee called MrDeyo.
Epic Records released this track on 26 September 2002. It is from J-Lo’s relatedly-entitled album “This Is Me… Then”, which came out a month later. In fact it is said project’s lead single.
Drake references this song in his 2018 hit track “In My Feelings“.
The music video to this song co-stars Hollywood superstar Ben Affleck, whom J-Lo originally dated from 2002 to 2004. It is basically meant to emulate the two of them being spied on, i.e. sort of a celebrity invasion-of-privacy theme, since their relationship has been (and continues to be) major tabloid-media fodder.
Ben Affleck later expressed disdain for participating on the clip. He described it as a “big regret” on his part. However, he has since “moved on” from making that mistake. Being that they were an official couple, even engaged, at the time, the clip features Bennifer (as the pair is often referred to) at points getting quite lovey-dovey.
And of course such depictions are the type of decisions which may cause some remorse later down the line if the relationship doesn’t work out. And such may have been the case with J-Lo who later got married to another celebrity, singer Marc Anthony. It has been reported that Jennifer initially tried to get the video banned from VH1 and MTV, as it tended to cheese Anthony off.
More Interesting Facts
There’s a remix to this song which some people may prefer to the original. That outing features Bad Boy Records’ The Lox, more specifically two members of the trio, Styles P and Jadakiss.
The success of “Jenny from the Block” resulted in at least one official spinoff and perhaps a handful of imitators. The former would be a track called “Becky from the Block” that Becky G put out in 2013 (respectively repping her own hometown, which of Inglewood, California). And in terms of the latter, it is said that a song Faith Hill released in 2005 entitled “Mississippi Girl” was strongly influenced by the track. And generally speaking, references to it tend to pop up here and there every now and then.
Jenny from the Block topped music charts in Canada and Hungary and went platinum in Norway and Australia. And overall it was a massive international success, in that it actually charted in at least 25 countries. This included peaking at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 as well as the UK Singles Chart.
Jennifer Lopez also performed this song on the biggest stage America has to offer, the Super Bowl Halftime Show, in 2020. In fact amongst her many hits, this is the one that is really considered to be her signature tune.
Interesting to note is that there are almost 30 mentions of the word “Bronx” in this song.