Jennifer Lopez has a split personality. There’s J. Lo, the ghetto-fabulous former Fly Girl, who brags about keeping it real in songs like ”Jenny From the Block.” Then there’s the internationally known movie star, who boasts an estimated $12 million-per-film price tag. J. Lo prefers curve-hugging jeans, belly-baring tops, killer stilletos, and chunky bling that reflect her street-chic Bronx roots. Meanwhile, the polished multimillionaire — who resides with hubby Marc Anthony in a mansion on New York’s Long Island — is an iconic portrait of high-end glamour who’s rarely out of step on the red carpet.
It’s a chilly January day in Miami, but inside a posh Mandarin Oriental hotel suite, Lopez, 37, looks muy caliente. Today, she’s dressed the part of the Hollywood celebrity in a sparkly vintage minidress. And yet she’s getting real about her most personal — and risky — album to date. Co-produced by Anthony, 38, and Colombian hitmakers Julio Reyes and Estéfano, the bilingual singer’s Spanish-language debut, Como Ama Una Mujer (translation: How a Woman Loves), ”is an opportunity for me to show my emotions, vulnerability, and passion,” she says effusively. ”I don’t get to do that as much in English.” Lopez even lets down her guard about her marriage. ”Marc and I are good partners. We love each other. We want to be the best person we can be for each other. And we work on that. That’s what a real relationship is about to me.” For a couple that barely acknowledged their surprise backyard nuptials at Lopez’s California home in June 2004, her newfound candor is an auspicious sign of their bond. ”When we got married, I was like, ‘I’ve been working for I don’t know how many years at [a high] level of intensity and exposure. I’m going to get back to what originally drew me to expressing myself as a creative person.”’
These days, the executive producer of the recent MTV reality series Dancelife seems genuinely motivated by passion rather than ambition. Releasing a Spanish-language album is a gutsy move for a pop star whose last CD, 2005’s Rebirth, sold half as much as its Bennifer-inspired predecessor, 2002’s This Is Me…Then. Her film career is in flux too. While 2005’s Monster-in-Law did well, An Unfinished Life was dead on arrival four months later. Is now the time to take such a gamble? ”My dream was always to make a Spanish album,” Lopez insists. The couple had collaborated on the project on and off for the last three years, Anthony said a few weeks later: ”This is the only album I’ve ever produced for any other artist. No one asked us to do it. We took our time, and she paid for it.”
Lopez continues: ”I don’t think you’re going to hear it all over English [radio] stations. But it’s not that type of album. It never was intended to be.”
The problem? ”Qué Hiciste” (translation: ”What Did You Do”), the first single from Como Ama, has yet to catch fire with its target audience: the Latin market. Even as Univision plans to adapt the disc for a five-episode mini music movie, ”Qué Hiciste” was, at press time, absent from Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart and modestly ranked at No. 15 in the Hot Latin Songs category. ”She should have done [a Spanish CD] earlier in her career,” says George Mier, program director for New York’s La Mega 97.9 FM, the largest Latin radio station in the U.S. ”I think the record has just been thrown out there like, ‘Here’s the new Jennifer Lopez record. Play it.’ People are not going to pay attention just because she’s J. Lo.”
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