This is about how Jennifer grew up in the Bronx and wants people to know she is still real and despite her fame is still the same person she always was. Lopez is so fixated with her hometown in this song that she references the Bronx 28 times.
This features guest vocals by rappers Jadakiss and Styles. Styles began serving an eight-month jail sentence for assault shortly after shooting the video.
This was one of the first big hits to use a gang songwriting technique, with various producers, songwriters and vocalists contributing to a song and earning writer credits, and others added because of samples. On "Jenny From The Block," 11 different people are credited as writers. Here's the breakdown:
Jennifer Lopez - singer
Jadakiss (Jason Phillips) - rapper
Styles (David Styles) - rapper
Troy Oliver - producer, keyboards, drum programming
Poke And Tone (Jean-Claude Olivier and Samuel Barnes) - producers
Cory Rooney - producer
Scott Sterling - songwriter
Andre Deyo - songwriter
Fernando Arbex - sample
KRS-One (Lawrence Parker)- sample
Lopez starred in the movie Maid In Manhattan when this song was popular. In the movie, Lopez played a maid who falls in love with a wealthy man who does not know she is poor. The sentiment of the movie is similar to this song, as Lopez stays true to her old friends despite a change in social status.
In addition to her movie, Lopez also released her own line of perfume around the time this was released. It was called "Glow by J.Lo."
The flute riff that shows up in this song is sampled from a 1975 track called "Hijack" by the disco group Enoch Light And The Light Brigade. "Hijack" was originally released by the Spanish group Barrabás in 1974 and was written by band member Fernando Arbex, who earned a writer credit on "Jenny From The Block" even though the flute part was introduced in the Enoch Light version.
Before Lopez got to it, a New York hip-hop duo called The Beatnuts used the sample in their 1999 track "Watch Out Now." After "Jenny From The Block" was released, they took aim at Lopez and her producers on a diss track called "Confused Rappers," where they spit:
Girl, you know you haven't been to the block for a minute
Getting all the little Latin girls to bite when you really can't sing
And you're no Salma Hayek
This samples "South Bronx," a 1987 track by Boogie Down Productions, earning BDP leader KRS-One one of the 11 writer credits.
This got a lot of publicity as part of the media fascination with J.Lo. She was on countless magazine covers and constantly in the news because of her impending marriage to Ben Affleck, who appears in the video. Lopez and Affleck never made it to the altar - the couple split up in 2004.
Shortly after this was released, Fox News did a story about the tensions between Lopez and her old neighbors in the Bronx. The anchor, Shepard Smith, read the following on air: "J.Lo's new song 'Jenny From the Block' is all about Lopez's roots, about how she's still a neighborhood gal at heart, but folks from that street in New York, the Bronx section, sound more likely to give her a curb job than a blow job!"
Smith was supposed to say "Block Party," and tried to make the correction, but it was too late. Smith apologized and said, "I have no idea how that happened, but it won't happen again."
Our guess is that someone got into the computer system and changed the script. Many news anchors (like Ron Burgundy) simply read what is in front of them on the TelePromptTer.
Lopez opened her set at the 2020 Super Bowl halftime show with "Jenny From The Block." She came on after Shakira.