Suraj Hallan tells Redbrick Music why he believes Jennifer Lopez’s debut should be labelled a timeless classic
After starring in the global-phenomenon Selena in 1997, which follows the life of the late ‘Queen of Tejano Music,’ singer-songwriter Selena Quintanilla-Pérez, Jennifer Lopez had developed a taste for the music-industry. In 1999, as an already accomplished Hollywood Movie Star, 29-year-old Lopez embarked on a music career amidst much criticisms and opposition.
Her debut-album On The 6, meant she fast became a music-icon and became one of just a few of the elite to successfully transform from Hollywood Actress to global music sensation. Joining the likes of Vanessa Williams. Lopez burst onto the music scene with her Latin flavours and fiery dance moves/sound. On The 6 successfully sowed the seeds to allow J.Lo to become a Latin and R&B superstar. In turn, further paving the way for latter Latino Artists to make their mark in music and follow suit.
The opening track, ‘If You Had My Love’ was Lopez’s debut-single, establishing her as a pop star. It peaked at Number One on the US Billboard Hot 100, with its Latin-American sounds it contributed well to the Latin music craze of 1999, led by Ricky Martin. The introductory beat also emanates traditional 90s music, allowing it to become a decade definer of that era. The song was also accompanied by a very futuristic video as it showed a Reality TV Show type set up, setting the seeds for what was to come at the turn of the 90s. Jennifer Lopez basically invented reality TV before it was a thing. The casts of Love Island, Big Brother and Geordie Shore, say thanks to J.Lo, your creator!
Likewise, ‘Should’ve Never’ has similar sounds to that of the opener. Its ballad feel and sultry vocals. The sounds have a very early 90s sound bearing some resemblance to the sounds of Toni Braxton with themes of love and relationships.
After the opening two tracks, On The 6 picks up in pace with its upbeat and celebratory Latin feel but J.Lo on this album managed to do something which is highly commendable. She successfully incorporates and merges R&B sounds whilst staying true to her Puerto Rican heritage. As there are predominantly South American tones, but have an R&B heavy sound too. This can be seen in the tracks, ‘Too Late,’ ‘Feeling So Good’ and ‘Let’s Get Loud.’ ‘Feeling So Good’ has a very refreshing sound with a motivational and encouraging message with the help of rappers Big Pun and Fat Joe.
‘Let’s Get Loud,’ the most South American sounding English language track on the record, it has a fun and energetic sound and fast became a dancefloor filler and critics of the time cited this track the best on the album.
However, in the present day, ‘Waiting For Tonight’ has been praised by critics as the best of J.Lo’s music career. It is again another party track of Lopez’s impressive musical catalogue and was the track which was at the turn of the century played parties as it was the ultimate millennium number.
‘Open Off My Love’ was another album-track which was able to again merge Lopez’s Latina heritage and American side. This is a hidden gem of J.Lo’s career as it is a shame that this track was never an actual single as it was a very fitting style to the late 90s to early 2000s.
On The 6 is both a pivotal and an important contribution to music. It donated to the Latin pop craze, but it also enhanced it. This is because this Latin phenomenon at the time was dominated by mostly male artists like Ricky Martin, Enrique Iglesias and Marc Anthony. J.Lo via On the 6 became the female face of Latin music domination representing the ladies.
She was able to show off her culture to the world but also maintained an impressive balance with her racial origins. It also showed Lopez as, ‘the girl next door’ type girl as the album’s title refers to the Subway Line in New York Lopez used. J.Lo via this album gave Latin American people a sense of hope in that a girl from The Bronx, daughter of first-generation Puerto Rican immigrant parents and from humble origins had taken the world by storm and has maintained her success to this day. Inspiring artists like; Fifth Harmony, Adrienne Bailon, Becky G, Pitbull, Prince Royce, Maluma and Anitta just to name a few.
Jennifer Lopez has truly stood the test of time.