Five Things We Learned During Jennifer Lopez's CRWN Interview

Jennifer Lopez
Setor Tsikudo

Jennifer Lopez during TIDAL’s CRWN series.

Early Tuesday afternoon (April 9), Jennifer Lopez sat adjacent to #CRWN’s host Elliott Wilson at NYC’s Manhattan Center to discussed the singer's legacy. Their talk was livestreamed via Tidal but there was also an intimate crowd of about 50 fans in the studio. 

When Tidal and CRWN made the announcement online on Monday evening (April 8), everyone involved had about 17 hours to prepare -- including Wilson. “It was my first time ever meeting her and I was nervous as hell,” Wilson reveals post-interview with Billboard. “I was very nervous. That’s why I wrote notes, and I stayed up all night watching every interview she did. I have no previous rapport with her but I obviously have a lot of respect for her -- and she was on my platform and in my world and we wanted to be accomodating.”

The crew succeeded -- Lopez seemed to be very much at ease onstage, answering questions about artistry, motherhood, love and her favorite rappers. She slipped in and out of anecdotes, punctuated with cascading giggles, as if she was hanging out with old friends. Then again, she was home in NYC.

“That’s the parallel,” Wilson shares. “Hip-hop is a product of the Bronx, J Lo is from the Bronx. Although her business may be ‘pop’ at times, to me she embodies hip-hop -- from the culture of her loving the music, from the dancing element, she embodies the Bronx. It’s still her home, her foundation.”

Here are five things we learned from J Lo’s talk with #CRWN for Tidal.

J Lo didn’t believe initially that she had broken a record when her movie, The Wedding Planner and “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” both shot to number 1 in the same week in 2001.

“We knew we had a hit single and a hit single already out,” she shared, still seemingly amazed at having been atop both the U.S. box office and Billboard's Pop Songs chart at the same time. “We all worked together to promo and get that out and when they debuted they both went to number one and everybody was really happy.”  

“I kept asking because they were like ‘Did you know? This is the first time this has happened!’ And I’m like, ‘No. Just look back,’” she quipped. “Barbra Streisand must’ve done it. Diana Ross... Somebody must’ve done it. It must’ve been a... What about the guys? Check the guys...”

She says her third album, 2002’s This Is Me...Then, was a personal favorite, and that the LP’s lead single, “Jenny From the Block,” defines her.

Wilson noted that it seemed to be more underappreciated. And commercially, it was -- at least, when compared to the blockbuster that was the previous year’s J.Lo. “That one [This Is Me...Then] was me getting a little more musical and writing a lot more,” she said. “I was going through some difficult times, so it just means more to me. Also, the sound of that album, I worked with engineer Bruce Swedien. Legendary. The way he recorded my vocals and the way we did things, it was just a whole other process.

“We took it to the next level and I’m just so proud of that album," she continued. "Listening to it from top to bottom, sonically and the content, it was all exactly what I wanted it to be. It was really me.”

Lopez says that Heavy D actually gave her the nickname “J Lo.”

The late rapper would come into the studio shouting the nickname and it stuck. After she had grown accustomed to it, she decided to name her album J.Lo, and says that’s when she realized that rappers had picked it up and started calling her the same.

Nas tops her list of Five Favorite MCs -- and Jay Z doesn’t make it on.

One can assume that J Lo has a special type of loyalty to hip-hop. She’s from the borough that started it all. She revealed that her first time hearing “Rapper’s Delight” by Sugarhill Gang was at around seven years old. “I was in the schoolyard and I remember getting really excited. It was a defining moment. I’d never heard anything like it, I’d never heard rap like that, to that type of music. I just fell in love with it, and became sort of a fanatic.”

Nas is one of my favorite rappers of all time,” she offered. “Probably number one. No, he’s my number one. I haven’t heard anyone rap who hits me in that same way. That New York sensibility that he has, he sounds like the guys I grew up with -- that raspy voice and that delivery, but he’s so intelligent, and I’ve always felt that he was so smart and I just love his style.” J Lo also names Big Pun, Fat Joe (“He’s the voice of the Bronx, man”), Biggie and Lil Wayne (“He did call me Miss Lopez on a song like I was a teacher,” she said with a laugh. “So cute.”)

“It did surprise me that she left Jay off the list!,” Wilson said later. “I don’t agree, but I respect that she didn’t let any of what the crowd was saying, sway her. It speaks to her determination, because the crowd definitely shouted out Hov and a few other names. But you saw her really processing in her mind who her favorites were.”

J Lo believes she can beat Alex Rodriguez in a foot race.

“I still think I can beat him running and stuff,” she says, only half-jokingly. “I know I’m crazy, but I’m competitive. We’ll be working out in the gym and I’ll be like, ‘I think I’m lifting more than you on this one!’ Except he’s not trying to compete with me. He’s laughing at me.”

“I always thought I was the hardest worker until I met him,” she shares, her face glowing in adoration. “I think that we have such a respect and admiration for each other that it makes us love each other more.”