|This Is Me... Then|
|Studio album by|
|Released||November 25, 2002|
|Jennifer Lopez chronology|
|Singles from This Is Me... Then|
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 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, "Jenny from the Block", was purposely leaked by Tommy Mottola, the head of Sony Music Entertainment.
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 R&B and soul sound, influenced by the soul music she grew up listening to. 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, reaching number two in the United States where it has sold 2.6 million copies. It also reached the top ten in countries such as Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland. The album went to sell over 6 million copies worldwide.
The album's lead single, "Jenny from the Block" featuring Styles P and Jadakiss of The Lox, became an international success, 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 also achieved commercial success, becoming her fourth number-one single 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.
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". That November, Affleck proposed, resulting in a higher amount of attention towards the couple. 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, and the name blend started the trend of other celebrity couples being referred to by the combination of each other's first names.
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." The overexposure from the media and public interest in their relationship resulted in less admiration for their work and negatively affected their careers.
Affleck became Lopez's 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. The singer took more of a "hands-on role", co-writing more material than she had on her previous albums. The album was titled This Is Me... Then, as it was something she wanted to look back on in retrospection. Lopez explained, "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.'" 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.
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. 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". "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. While creating the album, she 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.
The majority of This Is Me... Then was recorded over two weeks. 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." Lopez worked closely with longtime producer Cory Rooney on the album. Discussing the process, Rooney stated, "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." Other producers Lopez worked with primarily were Troy Oliver, Loren Hill and Dan Shea. She had previously collaborated with Oliver and Shea on J.Lo (2001).
Lopez speaking of the album's musical direction.
This Is Me... Then was considered a departure from Lopez's previous work, with more of an adult-oriented contemporary R&B sound, which included multiple ballads. The Age newspaper described This Is Me... Then as a "declaration of love" for Ben Affleck. 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." Entertainment Weekly described it as having a Minnie Riperton sound, while The Guardian noted the musical influence of Diana Ross and likened its sensuality to Marvin Gaye's Let's Get It On (1973). The album evokes 1970s soul music, and blends "streetwise" hip hop with "old-school soul".
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?" The song was likened to the music of Deniece Williams. "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?". The instrumentation of "I'm Glad" consists of a piano, guitar and classical harp runs, which are laced throughout a computer-generated beat. In "I'm Glad", Lopez discusses finding true love, and declares "I think I'm in love/Damn, finally!"
Two versions of the song "The One" are featured on the album. The first version, which is the fourth track on the album, is based around "You Are Everything" by The Stylistics. "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". "Dear Ben" was considered a profession of Lopez's love for Affleck to the media, and has been described as the album's "glowing centerpiece". Lopez made the decision to change the song's title to "Dear Ben" the day before This Is Me... Then was sent for manufacturing.
"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. "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". The Age wrote that the song intones Lopez's "modest childhood roots, vowing she wishes to remain simple despite her diamonds", while MTV said that she finds "the middle ground between Hollywood A-Lister and Big Apple B-Girl" on the "club-banging" song. 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. 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 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?"). The album closes with the second version of "The One". Some slight differences are shown in this version, with the instrumental being different, the vocal effects are different, and a new verse was recorded in place of the original version. The song ends immediatley after she sings the line, "I can be anything you need", like in the original, except silence is heard after that line is said.
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. Cory Rooney later revealed in 2016 that it was Sony Music executive Tommy Mottola who leaked the song. Rooney and Lopez initially wanted a song titled "Glad" to be the album's lead single, but Mottola favored "Jenny from the Block". Rooney recalled: "When we played 'Jenny from the Block,' he said, 'This is your single.' So right away we both were like no no no that’s not the single. He told us, 'You guys are crazy. This is the single I don’t give a shit what you say you’re gonna destroy the album if you don’t listen to me.'" According to Rooney, Mottola leaked the single the following day without their knowledge, noting: "He pulled the trigger and all over the world they were playing that record that day." "Jenny from the Block" went on to experience international commercial success, peaking within the top ten in the United States as well as over twelve other countries. 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". 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.
On December 14, 2002; "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 fourth song to top the Billboard Hot 100. The song also performed well internationally, ranking within the top ten of numerous charts. 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". 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.
On April 8, 2003, "I'm Glad" was released as the album's third single. Unlike its predecessors, "I'm Glad" failed to enter the top ten in the United States, while performing moderately in the international market. 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". 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. Marder also filed a lawsuit against Sony and Lopez which was quickly dismissed by the courts. That August, "Baby I Love U" was released as the album's fourth and final single, but failed to gain notable chart recognition.
Upon its initial release, 200,000 copies of This Is Me... Then included a four-panel insert that featured information about her fragrance Glow by JLo, and a peel-off fragrance label that allowed those who purchased the CD to test the scent. 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. However, in late July 2003, Lopez clarified that these plans had been canceled.
|The Village Voice||(negative)|
|Yahoo! Music UK|||
According to the reviewer aggreatator Metacritic which sampled nine reviews of the album, it garnered mostly "mixed or average" reviews. 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". 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". 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".
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". 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." 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". 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".
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. 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". 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". 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".
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. This marks the highest opening sales week of Lopez's career. Rolling Stone noted that despite this, "unlike her previous releases, the field wasn't empty for this album to dominate". In its second week, it dropped to number seven with 171,000 copies sold. 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. It sold 1.28 million copies within a month of release. For the week ending December 22, 2002, This Is Me... Then sold 345,150 copies, moving from number eight to number five as a result of holiday season gains.
For the week of January 2, 2003, the album remained in the top five of the Billboard 200, selling 233,000 copies. 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. Throughout February 2003, the album continued to perform strongly, averaging close to 80,000 copies sold each week, while remaining in the top ten. Additionally, the album peaked at number five on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. 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.
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. 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. In the United Kingdom, the album peaked at number 13, selling 47,000 copies in its first week. This was eleven positions lower than her previous album, J.Lo. It was eventually certified double platinum by the British Phonographic Industry in July 2013, marking shipments of over 600,000 copies. This Is Me... Then peaked at number five in Canada, and fell to number eight the following week with sales of 17,900. In total, the album has sold over 200,000 copies in Canada, earning a double platinum status in March 2006. 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. The Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique certified This Is Me... Then double gold, with sales exceeding 320,000 copies. 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. In Greece, the album peaked at number one and was certified Gold there for sales of 15,000 copies in 2004. Additionally, it peaked at number 10 in Finland, and has sold 19,998 copies there. This Is Me... Then has sold over 6 million copies worldwide.
|This Is Me... Then — Standard ion|
|6.||"All I Have" (featuring LL Cool J)||4:14|
|7.||"Jenny from the Block" (featuring Styles P and Jadakiss)||3:07|
|9.||"You Belong to Me"||3:30|
|10.||"I've Been Thinkin'"||4:41|
|11.||"Baby I Love U!"||4:28|
|12.||"The One" (Version 2) (bonus track)||3:31|
|This Is Me... Then — International ion (bonus track)|
|13.||"I'm Gonna Be Alright" (Trackmasters Remix featuring Nas)||2:52|
|This Is Me... Then — Brazilian ion (bonus track)|
|13.||"Jenny from the Block" (Album Version W/o Rap)||2:49|
|This Is Me... Then — Limited ion (Disc 2)|
|1.||"Jenny from the Block" (Seismic Crew's Latin Disco Trip)||6:41|
|2.||"All I Have" (featuring LL Cool J) (Ignorants Remix)||4:03|
|3.||"I'm Glad" (Paul Oakenfold Perfecto Remix)||5:47|
|4.||"The One" (Bastone & Burnz Club Mix)||7:40|
|5.||"Baby I Love U!" (R. Kelly Remix)||4:11|
|Canada (CRIA)||2× Platinum||300,000|
|France (SNEP)||2× Gold||300,000|
|Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)||Platinum||20,000*|
|New Zealand (RMNZ)||Gold||7,500|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||2× Platinum||600,000|
|United States (RIAA)||2× Platinum||2,800,000
*sales figures based on certification alone
|France||November 25, 2002||Standard||Sony|
|United States||November 26, 2002||Epic|
|Japan||November 27, 2002||Sony|
|United Kingdom||March 22, 2004||Repackaged|
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