This Is Me... Then

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This Is Me... Then
Studio album by Jennifer Lopez
Released November 25, 2002 (2002-11-25)
Genre
Length 47:31
Label Epic
Producer
Jennifer Lopez chronology
  • This Is Me... Then
  • (2002)
Singles from This Is Me... Then
  1. "Jenny from the Block"
    Released: September 26, 2002 (2002-09-26)
  2. "All I Have"
    Released: December 2002
  3. "I'm Glad"
    Released: April 8, 2003 (2003-04-08)
  4. "Baby I Love U!"
    Released: August 3, 2003 (2003-08-03)

This Is Me... Then is the third studio album by American singer Jennifer Lopez. It was released on November 25, 2002, by Epic Records. Prior to its release, Lopez began a high-profile relationship with director and actor Ben Affleck and a media circus ensued. Her relationship with Affleck served as her main inspiration for the album, which is dedicated to him. Initially scheduled to be released the following year, This Is Me... Then '​s release date was quickly pushed forward after its lead single, the notorious "Jenny from the Block", was leaked online.

For the album's recording, Lopez once again recruited Cory Rooney, Troy Oliver and Dan Shea, all of whom she had worked with on her previous albums. She decided to shift away from a pure dance-pop to more of an adult R&B and soul sound, influenced by the soul music she grew up listening to during the 1970s.The record's throwback material was integrated with mainstream hip-hop and pop music. During its production, Lopez was influenced by the works of Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross and Stevie Wonder among others. This Is Me... Then received mixed reviews from music critics. Some praised its musical direction, deeming it her strongest album to date, whilst others criticized its production and Lopez's vocal performance. The album went on to achieve commercial success, peaking at two on the Billboard 200 and selling 2.6 million copies in the United States. Throughout its chart run, the album continued to perform strongly. Worldwide, it performed modestly, peaking within the top ten of fifteen charts. It has sold over six million copies worldwide.[2]

The album's lead single, "Jenny from the Block" featuring Styles P and Jadakiss of The LOX, became a worldwide hit, peaking at three in the United States. However, its release was followed by the notoriety of its music video, which featured Affleck. The single has since been used as a nickname for Lopez in the media, known as one of her signature songs. The album's second single "All I Have" featuring rapper LL Cool J was also a hit, peaking at number one in the United States. "I'm Glad", the third single, performed moderately. The single's music video was met with critical acclaim, but caused controversy for recreating scenes from the 1983 film Flashdance. Sony and Lopez were sued over this, but the lawsuit was dismissed. This Is Me... Then spawned a fourth single entitled "Baby I Love U!" which failed to chart in most regions.

Background[edit]

Lopez's relationship with then-fiancé Ben Affleck influenced much of the album's lyrical content.

Prior to the release of This Is Me... Then, Lopez experienced heightened commercial success in her film and music career. Following the release of her debut album On the 6 (1999), which spawned the successful hit singles "If You Had My Love" and "Waiting for Tonight", Lopez has successfully crossed over from being an actress to a pop star within the space of twelve months.[3] Thus, joining an elite group of stars to have achieved this feat.[4] The entertainer went on to experience even greater success with her next studio effort J.Lo (2001), an album which allowed her to transition her image to that of a sex symbol, while also developing more of a public persona.[5] In February 2002, she released J to tha L-O! The Remixes, her first remix album. It became the first remix to top the album charts in the United States, securing Lopez a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.[6] With her commercial success, Lopez's personal life became a prominent media subject, in particular her romances with recording artists Marc Anthony and Sean Combs.[3]

In June 2002, Lopez divorced her former back-up dancer Cris Judd to pursue a relationship with Academy Award winning actor and director, Ben Affleck, "Hollywood's Golden Boy".[7][8] That November, Affleck proposed, resulting in a higher amount of attention towards the couple.[9][10] The public and media began to refer to them as "Bennifer" and they became a prominent supercouple in the media and popular culture. Bennifer became a popular term, which was eventually entered into urban dictionaries and neologism dictionaries as notable,[11] and the name blend started the trend of other celebrity couples being referred to by the combination of each other's first names.[12]

Speaking of the publicity, Lopez told MTV News: "We try [to keep things private]." "I'm not saying there's not times that we wish [we] could just be going to the movies and come out and there's not a crowd there waiting. You just want to spend your Sunday afternoon not working, but at the same time we both love what we do. If that's something that's part of it, then that's fine. We feel the love and we're very happy about it," she stated. While speaking of the damage that could be caused, Lopez said: "I think [the media can cause damage] if it's not a real thing. I've been in relationships where they were kind of unstable, and so the media messed with it a lot."[13] The overexposure from the media and public interest in their relationship resulted in less admiration for their work and negatively affected their careers.[14][15][16]

Writing and recording[edit]

Lopez was influenced by Michael Jackson's Off the Wall (1979) while creating the album.

Affleck, who Lopez referred to as her "baby", was her muse when writing and recording the album. "I wrote a lot of songs inspired, in a way, by what I was going through at the time that this album was being made, and he was definitely a big part of that," she told MTV News.[13] This Is Me... Then features the entertainer in a more "hands-on role", co-writing more material than on her previous albums.[17] The album's title references Lopez's point in her life at the time, something she wanted to look back on in retrospection. She revealed, "Who you are at that time, what kind of music you like, what kind of beats you're into, what kind of state of mind you're in, what you're attracted to ... it's all very telling of where you are in your life at that point. ... Twenty years from now, if I give this [album] to one of my kids, I'll be like, 'This was me then, at that moment.'"[18] Lopez dedicated the album to Affleck, with the words "You are my life ... my sole inspiration for every lyric, every emotion, every bit of feeling on this record" written on the disc jacket.[19]

A twenty-five second sample of "Still", a song in which Lopez sings about having love for a former boyfriend; Sean Combs was speculated to be the person in question.[20] The song was compared to early music by Deniece Williams.[21]

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Lopez wrote lyrics for the album in a small red leather diary, which she described as her "magic book". In it, she often scribbled down her thoughts and ideas.[13] The album's artwork and liner notes were modeled after this book, which would "further the feel of an intimate portrait of Lopez's soul".[18] "I wanted the pictures to look kind of aged, like it was a scrapbook. ... All the writing [in it] is all kinds of crazy and upside down and sideways just as it is in my book," Lopez stated.[18] Majority of This Is Me... Then was recorded over two weeks.[18] While recording, Lopez listened to a vast range of blues and soul music, which she listened to growing up. Artists such as Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross and Michael Jackson among other had a profound influence on the album's sound. According to Lopez, she attempts to "elicit a similar feeling" in her own songwriting from these artists' songs on the album, because they made her "heart sing". Vandross and Wonder's records "just stay with you" according to Lopez, who wanted to make something that was true to her upbringing as well as her current love life.[18]

Lopez was drawn to the "contagious" melodies of Michael Jackson's album Off the Wall (1979), which led her to summon the record's mixer and engineer, Bruce Swedien, to work on This Is Me... Then. Lopez felt that Jackson's "clear and spacious" records made her feel a "certain way". She said, "It has such a beautiful quality on it, and every time I looked at a record [I liked], it would be engineered and mixed by Bruce Swedien. I was like, 'Who is this guy? I want this guy.' So I tracked him down and he was like, 'I want to do something with her. I know exactly what she needs. I'm coming in.' And it made a huge difference."[18]

The album's short recording period had a busy Lopez juggling her film and music careers. She relied on her long-time producer Cory Rooney to assist her with songwriting and production. Rooney was described by Lopez as "so talented", "He's really, really just dedicated to music for the pure love of music."[18] Speaking of the album, Rooney revealed, "This is by far the best record that I've ever worked on or done [...] In the beginning of the recording [process] she said it's important that she makes a record that is a few notches above everything else she did. She wanted to show growth musically and vocally."[18] Other producers Lopez worked with primarily were Troy Oliver, Loren Hill and Dan Shea.[22][23] The entertainer previously collaborated with Oliver and Shea on her sophomore effort, J.Lo (2001).[24]

Composition[edit]

"I love the hip-hop. I love the R&B. It's gonna manifest itself in my music. ... The soul of the record is based in my Bronx upbringing. I think that really shows here — that time when people were rocking in Lees and Adidas. ... This record has a little bit of that nostalgia in it, so it wasn't so much I was trying to get gritty or grimy or street — even though it has that element, which I think is cool — but it was more just really getting to who I was and letting that out."[18]

—Lopez speaking of the album's musical direction.

This Is Me... Then was considered a departure from Lopez's previous work, with a more adult R&B sound, and including multiple ballads.[25][26] The Age newspaper described This Is Me... Then as a "declaration of love" for Ben Affleck.[19] Boston Globe '​s Steve Morse wrote, "[the] love affair has fired up Hollywood and now pop listeners can now share the vibe. This is one hot album, as [Lopez] sings to lovers everywhere with a soulful passion that will quicken pulses and libidos."[26] Entertainment Weekly described it as having a Minnie Riperton sound,[20] while The Guardian noted the musical influence of Diana Ross and likened its sensuality to Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On (1973).[21] The album evokes 1970s soul music,[21][27] and blends "streetwise" hip hop with "old-school soul".[28]

The album's opening song, "Still" is built around a sample from Teddy Pendergrass' "Set Me Free", and its lyrics concern an ex-lover. Entertainment Weekly observed that it may be about Lopez's ex-boyfriend Sean Combs, with lyrics such as "Do you ever wish we never split?"[23][20] The song was likened to the music of Deniece Williams.[21] "Loving You" samples Mtume's "Juicy Fruit" and George Benson's "Never Give Up on a Good Thing", while the ballad "I'm Glad" incorporates a part of Schooly D's "P.S.K. What Does It Mean?".[23] The instrumentation of "I'm Glad" consists of a piano, guitar and classical harp runs, which are laced throughout a computer-generated beat.[29][30][31] In "I'm Glad", Lopez discusses finding true love, and declares "I think I'm in love/Damn, finally!"[32]

A twenty-two second sample of "Dear Ben", an ode to Lopez's then-boyfriend Ben Affleck. The ballad has been described as the "centerpiece" of the album, and a profession of Lopez's love.[33][34]

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"The One" is based around "You Are Everything" by The Stylistics.[20] "Dear Ben", originally titled "Perfect", opens to an "atmosphere of lush strings and sparse percussion", described as a "starry-eyed paean to fiancé Ben Affleck". It contains lyrics which detail the characteristics of Lopez's perfect man, such as "You will always be ... To me, my lust, my love, my man, my child, my friend and my king" and "God made you for me".[18][20][19] "Dear Ben" was considered a profession of Lopez's love for Affleck to the media,[35] and has been described as the album's "glowing centerpiece".[25] Lopez made the decision to change the song's title to "Dear Ben" the day before This Is Me... Then was sent for manufacturing.[36]

"All I Have", a duet with LL Cool J which samples Debra Law's "Very Special", is a breakup song, and has been noted to conjure up her publicized split with Combs.[20][18] The album's lead single "Jenny from the Block" features lyrics about Lopez remaining humble despite fame and fortune. It samples several songs: "Watch Out Now" by Beatnuts, "Hijack" by Herbie Mann and KRS-One's "South Bronx".[37] The Age wrote that the song intones Lopez's "modest childhood roots, vowing she wishes to remain simple despite her diamonds",[19] while MTV said that she finds "the middle ground between Hollywood A-Lister and Big Apple B-Girl" on the "club-banging" song.[18] In the ballad "Again", Lopez considers finding love again, "I was scared to let go and trust your love," she sings in the second verse.[32] The theme of Lopez's relationship with Affleck is also evident in the vintage-sounding mid-tempo song "Baby I Love U!", which features a guitar and piano instrumentation[38] that includes a "haunting" interpolation from the theme of the film Midnight Cowboy (1969). The song, described as "cheesy" and "blissful", has Lopez singing about being a hopeless romantic ("Can you love me for a lifetime/ In just one night?", are among the lyrics).[25][20][39]

Singles[edit]

A 19-second sample consisting of the chorus from the album's lead single "Jenny from the Block", in which Lopez professes "No matter where I go, I know where I came from."[23]

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On September 26, 2002, a song entitled "Jenny from the Block" by Lopez featuring Styles P and Jadakiss of The LOX was leaked online. A pop radio station in Hatford, Connecticut, later picked up the song from the internet. "Jenny from the Block" was then immediately distributed to other stations owned by Infinity Broadcasting as the album's lead single.[17] The single went on to experience international commercial success, peaking within the top ten in the United States as well as over twelve other countries.[40][41] An accompanying music video for the song, directed by Francis Lawrence and featuring Affleck, was released. According to The Spectator, "Before celebrities become stars, they dream about gaining fame, fortune, and being in the spotlight [...] The video is basically about how she cannot find privacy with her fiance Ben Affleck. A lot of glamour is associated with fame and fortune; however, along with that glamour comes the loss of privacy".[42] The music video became one of the most controversial ones in pop culture at the time. Considered "the video that killed Ben Affleck's career", the actor stated, years after his engagement to Lopez ended, that he regretted filming it.[43][44] Despite the music video's backlash, the song became popular and to the present day, Lopez is constantly referred to as Jenny from the Block in the media.

On December 9, "All I Have" featuring rapper LL Cool J was released as the second single from This Is Me... Then. Not only did it become the album's second consecutive top-ten single in the United States, "All I Have" became Lopez's fifth and final song to top the Billboard Hot 100.[41] The song also performed well internationally, ranking within the top ten of numerous charts.[45] The song samples the 1981 track "All I Have" by Debra Laws. Laws later filed a lawsuit in 2003 against Lopez, LL Cool J and Sony Music Entertainment for "misappropriating her voice and name" in the song. More than three years later, the district court discovered that Law's music label had given Sony permission to use a 10-second sample of Law's song. The lawsuit was dropped, and Laws was advised to sue her own label and publisher for "breach of contract for entering a license agreement without her authorization".[46][47]

According to Lopez, she initially didn't want "Jenny from the Block" or "All I Have" to be released as singles from the album. She felt that the tracks were too similar to her previous singles such as "Ain't It Funny" and "I'm Real"; she felt like she was "visiting old territory". "Those tracks were like a different era for me, and I didn't want people to perceive it like I'm just trying to capitalize on the same thing. But the record company was like, 'Who cares what they think, those are hits mama!'". Lopez, who stated she "calls the shots", eventually agreed.[48]

On April 8, 2003, "I'm Glad" was released as the album's third single.[49] Unlike its predecessors, "I'm Glad" failed to enter the top ten in the United States, while performing moderately in the international market.[41] Its accompanying music video was a remake of the 1983 film Flashdance which was based on Maureen Marder's life, who was a "construction worker by day and dancer by night".[50] The music video, described as a "homage" to the film, impressed the filmmakers and they began talks with Lopez about creating a re-make. However, Paramount Pictures threatened to sue Sony over copyright issues. A representative for Epic Records confirmed that this issue was settled.[51] Marder also filed a lawsuit against Sony and Lopez which was quickly dismissed by the courts.[50] That August, "Baby I Love U" was released as the album's fourth and final single, but failed to gain notable chart recognition.[52]

Critical response[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 52/100[53]
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[54]
Billboard (positive)[55]
Entertainment Weekly B[20]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[21]
Q 2/5 stars[56]
Rolling Stone 2/5 stars[57]
Slant 3/5 stars [25]
Stylus Magazine F[58]
The Village Voice (unfavorable)[32]
Yahoo! Music UK 7/10 stars[59]

According to the reviewer aggreatator Metacritic which sampled nine reviews of the album, it garnered mostly "mixed or average" reviews.[56] Writing for Billboard magazine, Michael Paoletta gave This Is Me... Then a favorable review, stating that "even naysayers will have to serve props to Lopez for the considerable growth she reveals as both a performer and tune-smith".[28] Allmusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine gave the album a positive review, calling the feel of it "sexy, stylish, and fun, and there are numerous highlights, all feeling effortless". While Erlewine thought the title was "nonsensical and bewildering", he opined that this was the "strongest, sultriest, best music [Lopez] has recorded".[54] Tom Sinclair of Entertainment Weekly stated "the girl has a way with hooks, even if they're often borrowed", and audiences are "seduced by the breezy pleasure of her new music".[20]

Arion Berger of Rolling Stone, however, was not positive. Berger criticized the songs as being "pitched too high for her register", while calling the production "cheap". Berger also observed that "love has dulled whatever street edge she might have had".[57] Similarly, The Village Voice '​s Jon Caramanica was unfavorable, writing: "This Is Me is like the gift you get from your grandmother—awkward, unwanted, and blindly self-righteous. Used to have a little, and still does."[32] Slant Magazine's Sal Cinquemani on the other hand gave the album a favorable review stating that "This Is Me...Then manages to find the right formula for Lopez's slinky vocal and is more unified than its predecessors". Cinquemani felt that "Lopez will no doubt earn a grain of respect from critics".[25] Yahoo! Music's James Poletti was also positive, stating that while Lopez's voice "frequently sounds a trifle thin accompanied by the sort of sounds that we're better used to hearing behind a Creative Source or Gwen McCrae vocal", the "honeyed backing massages any real concerns from your mind".[59]

Accolades[edit]

This Is Me... Then received multiple awards and nominations. "All I Have" earned Lopez and LL Cool J an ASCAP Award, presented by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.[60] The music video for "I'm Glad" was met with critical acclaim, and received multiple nominations at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, including: "Best Female Video", "Best Dance Video", "Best Choreography in a Video" and "Best Art Direction in a Video".[61] Lopez received three nominations at the 2003 Teen Choice Awards. "All I Have" was nominated for "Choice Music Single", while "I'm Glad" was nominated for "Choice Love Song". In addition, This Is Me... Then received a nomination for "Choice Music Album".[62] At the 2003 Kids' Choice Awards, "Jenny from the Block" was nominated for "Favorite Song". At the Billboard Latin Music Awards of in April 2004, the Paul Oakenfold remix of "I'm Glad" won the award for "Best-Selling Latin Dance Single of the Year".[63]

Commercial performance[edit]

This Is Me... Then was a commercial success, although not as successful as J.Lo. Released on November 26, 2002, the album debuted on the Billboard 200 at number six, with first-week sales of 314,132.[64][65] This marks the highest opening sales week of Lopez's career.[66] Despite its high sales, Rolling Stone noted that "unlike her previous releases, the field wasn't empty for this album to dominate".[67] Throughout December, the album remained in the chart's top ten, and was later ranked by the magazine as the twelfth most successful album of 2002.[68][69] For the week of January 2, 2003, the album remained in the top five, selling 233,000 copies.[70] For the week ending January 18, 2003, This Is Me... Then made its biggest jump on the Billboard 200, climbing from number six to number two, with sales of 88,000 units, blocked from reaching the top spot by Norah Jones' Come Away With Me (2002) which sold 108,000 copies.[71] Throughout February 2003, the album continued to perform strongly, averaging close to 80,000 copies sold each week, while remaining in the top ten.[72][73][74] Additionally, the album peaked at number five on Billboard '​s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.[75] By June 2013, Billboard '​s Gary Trust reported that This Is Me... Then had sold 2.6 million copies in the United States; her third best-selling album.[76]

Internationally, the album entered the top ten of most countries. In Australia, the album debuted and peaked at number 14 on the ARIA Charts for the week ending December 8, 2002. Commercially, it became one of her lowest-charting albums there.[77] However, This Is Me... Then remained on the ARIA Charts until July 6, 2003, allowing it to be certified platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association for shipments of over 70,000 units.[78][79] In the United Kingdom, the album peaked at number 13.[80] This was eleven positions lower than her previous album, J.Lo.[81] It was eventually certified double platinum by the British Phonographic Industry in July 2013, marking sales of over 600,000 copies.[82] This Is Me... Then peaked at number five in Canada, and fell to number eight the following week with sales of 17,900.[83] In total, the album has sold over 200,000 copies in Canada, earning a double platinum status in March 2006.[84] In France, it debuted and peaked at number four for the week ending November 30, 2002. After re-entering the French Albums Chart on multiple occasions, it made its final appearance on August 1, 2004 at number 179.[85] The Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique certified This Is Me... Then double gold, with sales exceeding 320,000 copies.[86][87] The album peaked at number four in Germany and was certified Gold by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry for shipments of 150,000 units.[88][89] In Greece, the album peaked at number one and was certified Gold there for sales of 15,000 copies in 2004.[90] Additionally, it peaked at number 10 in Finland, and has sold 19,998 copies there.[91] This Is Me... Then has sold over 6 million copies worldwide.[92]

Planned tour[edit]

On September 27, 2002 a spokesperson for Lopez revealed that she planned to take a break from acting to launch a tour in support of This Is Me... Then in April 2003.[17] However, in late July 2003, Lopez clarified that these plans had been canceled.[93]

Track listing[edit]

This Is Me... Then – Standard edition
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Still"  
3:40
2. "Loving You"  
  • T. Oliver
  • Rooney
3:45
3. "I'm Glad"  
  • T. Oliver
  • Rooney
3:42
4. "The One"  
3:36
5. "Dear Ben"  
3:14
6. "All I Have" (featuring LL Cool J)
  • Rooney
  • Ron G
  • Dave McPherson
4:14
7. "Jenny from the Block" (featuring Styles P and Jadakiss)
3:08
8. "Again"  
  • Lopez
  • Rooney
  • T. Oliver
  • Reggie Hamlet
  • T. Oliver
  • Hamlet
  • Rooney
5:47
9. "You Belong to Me"  
  • Rooney
  • Shea
3:30
10. "I've Been Thinkin'"  
  • Lopez
  • Rooney
  • Shea
  • Rooney
  • Shea
4:41
11. "Baby I Love U!"  
  • Rooney
  • Shea
4:28
12. "The One (Version 2)[Bonus Track]"  
  • Lopez
  • Rooney
  • Creed
  • Deluge
  • Bell
  • Rooney
  • Deluge
  • Shea
3:31
Total length:
47:31
Notes

Charts[edit]


Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[79] Platinum 70,000
Austria (IFPI)[117] Gold 15,000
Belgium (IFPI)[118] Gold 15,000
Canada (CRIA)[84] 2× Platinum 200,000
Europe (IFPI)[119] Platinum 1,000,000
Finland (IFPI)[91] Gold 19,998
France (SNEP)[87] 2× Gold 320,000[86]
Germany (IFPI)[89] Gold 150,000
Greece (IFPI)[90] Gold 15,000
Hungary (Mahasz)[120] Gold 3,000
Netherlands (NVPI)[121] Gold 30,000
New Zealand (RMNZ)[122] Gold 7,500
Portugal (AFP)[123] Gold 10,000
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[124] Platinum 100,000
Sweden (IFPI)[125] Gold 20,000
Switzerland (IFPI)[126] Platinum 40,000
United Kingdom (BPI)[82] 2× Platinum 612,000
United States (RIAA)[127] 2× Platinum 2,600,000[128]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Country Date Edition(s) Label
France[129] November 25, 2002 Standard Sony
Germany[130]
United States[131] November 26, 2002 Epic
Japan[132] November 27, 2002 Sony
United Kingdom[133] March 22, 2004 Repackaged

References[edit]

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  22. ^ Moss, Corey (November 21, 2012). "J. Lo, LL Cool J Star As Ex-Lovers In Lopez's Next Video". MTV News. Viacom International Inc. Retrieved April 3, 2013. 
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