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Jennifer Lopez Interview: Star Opens Up About a ‘Turning Point’ in Her Life, Turning the Tables in Her ‘I Luh Ya Papi’ Video + New Album Details

Jennifer Lopez
Kevin Winter, Getty Images

When Jennifer Lopez starts talking about about a “turning point” in her life, you listen. It’s easy to assume that the girl who went from being just Jenny from a Bronx block to a straight-up global superstar (with a successful career in singing, dancing, acting, ‘American Idol’ judging — and the list goes on) has got everything figured out. But, as it turns out, even JLo has room to learn from life experiences.

“I’d come off the tour, so I really was inspired to get back into the studio right away. My goal was to just be as honest as I could,” Jennifer Lopez tells PopCrush. “You know, I’d gone through a lot in my life right at that point when I went on tour. I’d been through a divorce. A lot of things had happened. I really felt like it was a turning point in my life.”

That time, she says, gave her an opportunity to learn more about herself, her emotions and her perspective on love, so she put all the feelings into the music on her as-yet-untitled new album, out on June 17.

In this exclusive interview with PopCrush, Jennifer chats about all of that, plus she dishes on the making of her fun ‘I Luh Ya Papi’ video, working with the likes of Ricky Martin and Chris Brown on some of her new album tracks — and entertaining the idea of collaborating with her ‘Idol’ co-stars, Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr. (Spoiler: She adores country music!)

What inspired the concept of your ‘I Luh Ya Papi’ video? Is it something you had in mind when recording this song?

It’s funny, when I was doing the song, I felt like it was very tongue-in-cheek. I’m saying in the verses how I’m gonna put it down on you and how I want you and all this stuff, but then it’s kind of like what guys do to girls. So in the song it’s like, you know, they’ll be with you and they’ll talk about how much they want you, and then it’ll be like … oh yeah, I didn’t see it. I really love you. It’s kind of that type of thing. And then [with] the video, we decided to do the same thing. The director came up with the concept to kind of flip the rap video — to make me the rapper and, you know, just turn the tables in that way … instead of having girls in bathing suits, have guys in bathing suits. Instead of having me be the soft girl in the video, be the rapper who’s in the mansion and the yacht. It was all meant to be in good fun, but you know, I knew people would get the joke.

"Let me tell you something: Guys have been doing these videos for years because it’s fun to do!"

So, did you get to choose all of the hot guys that ended up in the video yourself?

[Laughs] Yeah! I had a say in it. It was a lot of fun. Let me tell you something: Guys have been doing these videos for years because it’s fun to do!

You reworked the famous Versace dress you wore to the Grammys several years ago for this video. What made you decide to bring that back?

Well, you know, when you think about those type of videos with those rappers and the mansions and the yachts, they always have these Versace shirts on — and it was shot in Miami — we had to have some Versace in the video. And so I sent them out to get those type of clothes, with those patterns and everything on it, and they came back with the jungle print, which is the green dress that I wore at the Grammys a few years back. I was like, oh my God, we have to do this. That’ll take everybody right back to those videos, too, from that ‘Jenny From the Block’ era, so we thought it was perfect for that.

Watch Jennifer Lopez’s ‘I Luh Ya Papi’ Video (Feat. French Montana)

That’s just perfect timing! Now, with your new album coming out in June: Did you approach anything differently with recording it this time around?

I’d come off the tour, so I really was inspired to get back into the studio right away. I’d been working on it since last February — for over a year now. My goal was to just be as honest as I could. You know, I’d gone through a lot in my life right at that point when I went on tour. I’d been through a divorce. A lot of things had happened. I really felt like it was a turning point in my life. I’d learned a lot about myself. I grew out my perspective on a lot of things — changes, including love — and there was just a lot that I had to say. Plus I had grown as a performer and as a vocalist on the road. All of that stuff is in this album. What I realized is that I just always have to be me. If I’m approaching something creatively, I have to be who I am. I’m the same girl that I always was, while I’ve evolved and I’ve grown and I have more experience. And I have to put that into this album — and I think I really did.

"I think this album, of any album, is really owning all of who I am musically and emotionally."

What song is the most personal to you on this album?

Oh, God. There’s so many. There’s just different sets of emotions on different records. I have a song called ‘First Love,’ I have a song called ‘Emotions,’ I have song called ‘Let It Be Me’ — all very personal. They’re very personal songs in different things about my life and how I feel about love or different moments. You know, everything’s a moment or an emotion that you have, a day you feel a certain way, and you kind of put that into a song or you relate to it in a way that you know people are gonna understand — like, “Yeah, I’ve felt that way.” It feels like it’s something that I would say. I think this album, of any album, is really owning all of who I am musically and emotionally.

Is there a track on this album that you think fans might be surprised to hear? Did you explore any new types of sounds or topics?

I wouldn’t say new type of topic. My topic is love. It always has been. It’s my motivation. It’s what I think about. That’s who I am at the essence. But what I thought about love for my first nine albums is very different from what I think about it now after everything I’ve been through.

We’re also going to get to hear ‘Adrenalina,’ your collaboration with Ricky Martin and Wisin. What was it like working on this song with them?

It was great working on the song with them. We’ve known each other for years, and we’ve done other songs and videos together. Shooting the video was a lot of fun. The three of us in one place in a video together… you rarely get to do that with more than just you and one other artist. It’s usually by yourself. It was great to have the three of us there. It felt really powerful.

We’ve already heard a teaser of a song called ‘Same Girl,’ a song that you worked on with Chris Brown that has very different feel from ‘Papi’…

Yeah, he came in and wrote a few songs for me on the album. We had a great time working together. He’s a very talented boy.

Watch Jennifer Lopez’s ‘Same Girl’ Video

How do you think his style affected the sound of those tracks?

It absolutely did. I mean, he knew he was writing for me, but at the same time it was very organic to what he does. But when you hear the songs, I don’t think you would think, like, “Oh, he wrote ‘Same Girl.’ He wrote ‘Emotions.’” There’s very different things that he did for me on the album.

Another big part of your life right now is ‘American Idol,’ with you working with Keith Urban and Harry Connick, Jr. Have you and Keith ever talked about surprising everyone with a pop/country crossover song? Are you a country music fan?

I’m a BIG country music fan. I love country music. I would say, you know, besides hip-hop, country music is one of my favorite genres. I love it. I love the storytelling in country music. I love the lyrics. I don’t know… we haven’t talked about doing a country song together, but we’ve talked about performing together. Harry and I have talked about doing maybe an original Christmas song together. You know, different things. But I don’t know, maybe we should! Maybe that would be a good idea.

Tell us one thing about yourself that very few people know — something that fans might be surprised to hear.

I don’t know! I’ve done so many millions of interviews, I don’t think there’s anything you guys don’t know about me [laughs].

Next: See Jennifer Lopez's Best Red Carpet Dresses

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