The album listening brunch was held at the Beats By Dre store in Soho and was moderated by Karen Civil and featured libations from Belaire Rose and fabulous light bites from Evelyn’s Kitchen including Bacon & Sharp Chedder Quiche, Greek Yogurt Parfaits with fresh berries & granola, Glazed Cinnamon Roll Waffles, Two Profiteroles with fried egg and maple bacon, Chicken Apple Sausage in a puff pastry, Sweet Potato and Sage Frittatas and delicious Cheese Cake stuffed strawberries.
Soon the lady of the hour Jennifer Lopez arrived. Her manager Benny Medina was also in the building. She looked chic in a black and gold outfit, black Christian Louboutin heels and cool shades. DJ’s Cipha Sounds and Drewski were on the turntables. Before JLO gave us a track by track breakdown of the album, she took the time to shake each our hands and chatted with us about her new album. She also posed for photos with everyone. She was incredibly generous, kind and in great spirits.
All of the songs on “A.K.A.” could be singles. While the album is very current Lopez stays true to her roots. There are also some killer collaborations with T.I., French Montana, Iggy Azalea, Rick Ross, Pitbull and Nas. Amadeus, Detail, Diplo, DJ Mustard, Max Martin, Ilya, RoccStar, Harmony Samuels, Charles “Chizzy” Stephens, Ryan “Ryghtous” Tedder all served as producers.
Before she started, Jennifer asked guests which genre of tracks they wanted to hear because “A.K.A” has it all: Pop, Hip-Hop, Dance and R&B songs. The crowd voted for Hip-Hop. Lopez gave a great intro and shared her inspiration for the project with attendees. “It’s been a long time coming, I’ve worked on it for over a year and like three or four months, I finally just had to let it go and … go ‘Ok, I can’t do anything else, this is it. It is what it is.’ I’m proud of it, I got to work with so many amazing producers and writers on this, so many amazing collaborations I got to do on this, even some that didn’t make the album that were still amazing, they will have their moment at some point in life, I don’t know when … I think everybody knows that music is my first love, I started as a dancer, obviously because I love music, from there I was an actress, and then I went back to music after I did the movie, ‘Selena.’ Made my first album and haven’t stopped since. I’ve been lucky enough to make it to my tenth album, eight studio album, tenth album in all.”
Lopez continued, “To me there’s never been a more special project or time in my life than this one. One of the reasons is the concert that I did in the Bronx the other day, it just felt like the whole thing came full circle and started a new beginning. Karen was just telling me about her six year old niece who hasn’t stopped talking about my concert, who didn’t know any of my songs, and like I said I just feel like it’s a whole new time, a whole new generation, a whole new set of people who are being exposed to me. To me it’s mind blowing, it’s almost surreal that I can continue doing what I love so much for all this time and that we’re starting a new beginning.”
“I think one of the things on this album that you’re going to notice is that it is kind of a return to my roots. When I was making this tenth album I thought to myself ‘Let me listen to the last eight or nine albums I’ve made.’ As I was listening, I noticed that in my first five or six, it was very mid-tempo R&B stuff, pop stuff, there was Latin stuff, there was Hip-Hop. There were all these different me’s. You know what I mean? And it all felt good and right, but it always had kind of that girl from around the way feel. That girl who is about love, that girl who is searching for something. All of that I think is on this album as well. Except that I’ve grown a little bit. I’d like to think I’ve gotten a little bit better with time and experience and ups and downs. And at the end of the day, I think all of that is on the album. You’re going to see that and you’re going to feel that. But of course, there is the pop stuff and the more Hip-Hop centric stuff.”
We will be sharing JLO’s reflections on some of the tracks on “A.K.A.” in Part II of our coverage, but read some highlights from the Q&A below:
We’re in an age where there is a surplus of singers, rappers, producers and there is so much music out. But with you we know when a song is a JLO song. How important is it for you to make sure your songs stand out from the rest of the pack?
You know at the end of the day as an artists you just gotta do what’s true to yourself. When you start thinking about how can I stand out? Or how can I do this? How can I do that? How do I stay current? … You can’t do that, as an artist at the end of the day, you just have to express yourself and hope that people connect with that. I love music, so I’m always kind of abreast to what’s going on … What the sound is , how it’s changing all different types of music just like I told you, so I just use the influences and the inspirations that I get from now instead of always trying to think of what I’ve done before. How do I feel right now and what do I want to say right now and hopefully that’s enough to cut through.
So you returned to the Bronx for your latest concert, how do your roots inform your fashion style?
I mean they always have, I’m just a Bronx girl who just got to travel the world at the end of the day … and I’ve lived in the Bronx most of my life and I didn’t move out of there until I was I don’t know late twenties … so my hoops, my sneakers, my sweats, my whole style is a Bronx girl style and then you know I’ve been lucky enough like I said to travel the world go to couture shows and be exposed to all these designers so my style is very much a mix of that.
Since “On The 6” until now, how do you feel like you’ve evolved with your music as a whole?
As a whole I think honestly it’s again you have to be who you are in the moment. I think people get stuck in a time and they start sounding just like a certain time. For me it’s always kind of about staying current and evolving … and I think the day I stop listening to the radio … maybe that’s going to stop, but I don’t think I’ll ever do that (laughs). But that’s how you evolve, you evolve by staying, current by knowing what’s going on, on the radio, knowing what everyone is doing, younger or older, it doesn’t matter you know because again you can have people like Cher or Tina Turner who are still touring and then you have people like Ariana Grande … and for me I always feel like when it comes to artists there’s always room for everybody, so as long as you keep being yourself and doing what you do … at the end of the day there’s only one me, there’s only one Tina Turner, there’s only one Beyoncé, there’s only one Taylor swift theres only ONE … We’re not in competition with each other. Any of the great female artists of this time or even before … they’ll always stand alone. And honestly if Tina turner decided to do a record today … it would go to the top of the charts, it doesn’t matter how old she is or young she is, you just have to be yourself.
Would you consider doing more Spanish language tracks?
Yes, I actually plan to do a Spanish album. I think I’m going to do a Christmas album next year maybe and then a Spanish album after or in the same year. We’ve been talking about it a lot. I loved making my Spanish album that was one of my favorite projects ever. I got to do it with my Ex Marc Anthony. It was a really great passion project and I guess once we did that, it was like how do I reinvent that? How do I do that again, who do I work with to capture that same kind of magic, and I don’t know, I have a couple ideas of people now because I’ve collaborated with Wisin Y Yandel and different producers in Spanish now. So, you know there may be a few people that I’m interested in saying you can do this album with me … Yes, but absolutely I would love to do more Spanish music. I feel like sometimes I love singing in Spanish music sometimes better than English there’s something about it.
Lopez concluded, “Thank you guys so much for coming, thank you for listening and listening so intently, I love you, I appreciate you. I wanted to share this with you, I hope you had a good time, I hope they fed you well, and again thank you so much for all your support of this very very special project.” Each guest was gifted with a pair of Beats’ Solo2 headphones and a bottle of Rose.
In case you missed it, read our review of JLO’s Bronx Concert Extravaganza.
See the full “A.K.A.” track list below.
1. A.K.A. feat. T.I.
2. First Love
3. Never Satisfied
4. I Luh Ya Papi feat. French Montana
5. Acting Like That feat. Iggy Azalea
7. So Good
8. Let Me Be Me
9. Worry No More feat. Rick Ross
10. Big Booty feat. Pitbull
11. Tens feat. Jack Mizrahi
12. Troubeaux feat. Nas
13. Expertease (Ready Set Go)
14. Same Girl