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Jenny from the Block: 15 Years of J.Lo

by Jason Gubbels

Jenny from the Block: 15 Years of J.Lo

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It's a little hard to believe now, but lots of people didn't think Jennifer Lopez was making a smart career choice when she started shopping around music demos in the hopes of launching herself as a singer back in 1999. Having moved up through the ranks of television (she was one of In Living Color's Fly Girl dancers) and film (a breakout role in Selena), Lopez could have chosen to focus strictly on advancing her Hollywood career. But she was ready to try her hand at pop music, too. Lopez took the advice of Sony label head Tommy Mottola, who'd urged the bilingual performer to stick with strictly English-language material, and promptly proved naysayers wrong with debut single "If You Had My Love," which shot directly to the top of the Billboard Hot 100.

Ever since, Lopez has moved back and forth between the screen and the recording studio, racking up worldwide hit singles even in the midst of box-office disappointment (plenty wondered if she'd ever recover from the disastrous Gigli, a question decisively answered in 2011 when she signed on as a judge for American Idol). And as befits a media-savvy personality who both assumed the glamorous sobriquet J.Lo while claiming to still be "Jenny from the Block," she's retained a gift for balancing superstar demands with girl-next-door charm.

On the occasion of her eighth studio album, A.K.A., we've assembled a big J.Lo career retrospective bringing together all her hits (from "Love Don't Cost a Thing" to "On the Floor"), guest spots (grinding alongside will.i.am and Mick Jagger on the former's "T.H.E. [The Hardest Ever]"), remixes (her 2002 J to tha L-O! The Remixes was famously the first remix album to debut at Billboard's No. 1 position), and even a few deep album cuts (do you remember the stomping "Cherry Pie" off Rebirth?). Fifteen years after that debut single, it's clear Lopez remains one of modern pop's most discerning crossover acts. Who else would sound so comfortable trading verses with both Marc Anthony and Lil Wayne?

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