In this song, Lopez tells her man that even though she's a glamorous star, she still just a regular gal, so he doesn't have to try to impress her.
The first version of this song was included on the J. Lo
album, but it was the "Murder Remix" featuring the rapper Ja Rule that was the hit. Ja Rule was brought in following disappointing sales of "Play
," the second single from J. Lo
. When the remix was finished, it was included on subsequent copies of the album as a bonus track.
The original version was written by Jennifer Lopez, Leshan David Lewis, Troy Oliver, and Cory Rooney, with production handled by the latter two. Cory Rooney recalled to Songwriter Universe
: "With the remix of 'I'm Real,' Tommy (Mottola, head of Sony Music Entertainment) and I came up with something drastic. We wanted a version which would be embraced by urban radio. We realized that urban radio was into Ja Rule and Murder Inc., so we brought them in, not just to do a remix, but to help remake the record. They did such a great job with 'I'm Real,' that we also had them work on 'Ain't It Funny
The remix spent five weeks at #1 in the US charts. Its chart position was boosted by radio play of the album track, which lead to complaints. This led to a change of Billboard policy and subsequently airplay of identically named songs with substantially different melodies weren't combined when computing chart positions.
J.Lo was used to working with a songwriting team, but she had the opportunity to work on parts of this song by herself. She took 15 minutes away from the group and came back with the whole chorus.
When Ja Rule and Murder Inc. founder Irv Gotti met Rooney, they were incredulous when they heard his plans for the rapper to sing a verse with Lopez. Rooney explains: "They laughed like you wouldn't believe it. It took me 15 minutes to get the room focused again, because they tried to laugh me out of the room. I said, 'Now that you're finished laughing, I'm serious. If you look at every hit record you've had so far, Ja, it's you singing the choruses, and people have accepted that about you and this is what I want.'"
Ja Rule contributed some additional lyrics to the remix, including Lopez's line, "I tell those niggas, mind their own business, but they don't hear me, though." Some members of the African American community were outraged over Lopez's use of the racial slur and protested the singer's free concert in New York. In between sets, Lopez told the crowd: "For anyone to think or suggest that I'm racist is really absurd and hateful to me. The use of the word in the song - it was actually written by Ja Rule - it was not meant to be hurtful to anybody."
Sony Music exec Tommy Mottola made sure Lopez got approval to use Yellow Magic Orchestra's 1978 hit "Firecracker," even though another artist inquired about the sample first: Mariah Carey, Mottola's ex-wife. Carey was hoping to use it in "Loverboy
," and expresses her anger at Lopez and Mottola in the song's remix, singing, "Hate on me much as you want to, You can't do what the f--k I do, Bitches be emulating me daily," over a "Firecracker" melody.
The first line Jennifer Lopez sings on "I'm Real (Remix)" isn't "Are you Ellie," it's "R-U-L-E" - she's spelling out Ja Rule's name.
On September 29, 2001, which was during the song's stay at #1 in the US, Lopez married Cris Judd, a dancer who appeared in some of her videos, including this one.