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Jennifer Lopez - ''J-Lo''
(Wednesday January 24, 2001 12:49 PM )

Released on 22/01/2001
Label: Columbia

The number one hit 'Love Don't Cost A Thing' kicks off this 15 track album and from then on it's kind of ... OK-Lo.

Now fully established as a world entertainment brand (check that name abbreviation J-Lo for instant global recognition ) Miss Lopez mostly sticks to a successful formula - R&B lite with a Latin touch. Second track 'I'm Real' is in a similar vein as the first, as is the Prince like 'Play' and the later cut 'That's The Way'. None are great tunes in the way of, say, TLC's 'Waterfalls' but the Bronx born Lopez's enormous fanbase is sure to propel them into the top of the charts.

Truth is there's a lot of artists doing R&B better out there (Aaliyah, Destiny's Child) but none have Lopez's acting career, high profile boyfriend or other more tangible assets. Undoubtedly aware of this she opts for the safe route, it's easy money after all (especially when you're getting 9 million dollars per film). This is best seen on the bland 'Ain't It Funny' with it's pumping Mecca disco beat and obligatory canastas for Latin 'realness'. Check out Jill Scott's 'One Is The Magic Number' for how this should be done properly. Really J-lo is closest to Gloria Estefan (and god forbid Paula Abdhul) which is a shame as Latin pop could and should have advanced on from the Miami Sound Machine by now.

Elsewhere there's the kind of Latin housey 'Walking on Sunshine' that seems to fall between all the gaps, a mish mash of 4/4 beats, sugar vocals and don't worry be happy lyrics that could top off many a wedding and the ballad 'Secretly' which demonstrates how her voice lacks the sensuous length of someone like Mary J or Whitney Houston. The most original cut is the Puerto Rican sounding 'Carino' (affection) that at least makes use of her Latin roots.

In films such as Blood and Wine and Thieves she's been an edgy, talented actress. It looks like she saves her real talent for the screen because while she's already achieved mainstream musical success, actual credibility will have to wait a while.

    by Jake Barnes

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