It's nearing 1:00 am in New York City, and Jennifer Lopez appears to still be in an affable mood. As a surplus of balloons continue to float and adorn her all-pink meet-and-greet area inside of Madison Square Garden, the Puerto Rican triple threat is beaming with sheer gratification.
As she hugs the last few of her fans, several J. Lo stans zealously reach for their cameras, in hopes of capturing one more snapshot to punctuate their enchanting evening. Rather than swat them away in hopes of traveling to her next show in Boston, she kindly grants their wishes and allows them to continue flickering away. Following Saturday night's debacle (July 13) — which included a complete evacuation 20 minutes into her set due to a city-wide power outage — a couple of photos is nothing.
J. Lo's astounding two-hour exhibition Monday night comes on the heels of her nabbing her 17th No. 1 Dance Club Songs record with "Medicine," featuring fellow Bronx native, French Montana. The electric single is just one of the many party starters nestled inside of JLo's seamless catalog. Though her resume also boasts such Hot 100 No. 1s as "I'm Real" and "If You Have My Love," Lopez humbly understands what No. 17 means to her career, especially in the competitive realm of dance music.
"You know, for me, because I'm a dancer — because I started that way since I loved dancing in clubs and that's how I started — it's very special to me, that part of my life," she tells Billboard. "That's kind of what molded me and shaped me into being the performer that you see out there today."
With Jennifer Lopez powering through her It's My Party Tour all summer long in light of her 50th birthday, which arrives July 24, she's more than ecstatic about where she is in currently at in her life, both personally and career-wise. "There's so much happiness and so much contentment in my life right now with all my kids, my relationship and you saw those fans out there, my work, my producing, my acting, she says. "It's a great time."
Billboard caught up with J. Lo to talk about her final night in New York City for her It's My Party Tour, "Medicine" going No. 1 on the Dance Club Songs chart, why hip-hop will always have a special place in her life and finally achieving perfection.
You experienced a show cancellation on Saturday with the blackout. Talk about how you managed to come back Monday night and deliver round two for the fans of New York City.
Jennifer Lopez: I mean, you know, it kind of threw everybody off. We were in such a rhythm, we had such a great show and we were so looking forward to New York. And then, on the second night, we were even more in the pocket because we were so excited for the first night to be in New York.
Everybody knows that's my hometown, my whole team, they knew how much I was looking forward to playing the Garden on my own, headlining, all by myself 'cause I've done it so many times before, but it's always been with somebody else. And it was just this great energy. When we came back, we were in the pocket and ready to go and then, 15-20 whatever minutes in, it was like… [Pauses.] I was almost in shock when it happened. I was like, "Ah. It's going to come back on. Everybody stay calm. It's good."
I was very much in control. I felt really great, and then they were like, "You gotta evacuate." And then, it was almost like a surreal experience like, "Is this really happening? This is happening. No, we're not doing the show, right? We don't have to go back and do the show?" It was crazy.
The party’s not over til I say it is…. ✨– See you tonight, NYC!!!!!!!! See what went down when the lights went out.
— Jennifer Lopez (@JLo) July 15, 2019
Your mom was there night one and then the blackout happened night two, but we managed to have the show tonight. If you can compare Friday's performance to Monday's, which one would you say was your better night?
Oh God! They were both spectacular. The opening here, the excitement for the first night. Doing this tour here and celebrating in this way was really electric that first night.
The second night, obviously, we were interrupted, but this night, it almost had a different kind of feeling to it because we came back, because we rescheduled, since these people were kind of like, "Is this going to happen?" Is this not?" And the truth is, I was just talking to some of the higher powers that be here at Madison Square Garden, and a lot of people just try to reschedule months later. It kind of loses its sizzle, or they don't, or they can't. Things like that. So it had a special kind of like electricity today.
All it took was 24 hours.
This goes to show you when you want to make something happen, you can make it happen. [Laughs.]
I have to congratulate you. You now have 17 No. 1s on the Dance Club Songs chart with your single "Medicine" serving as your latest. What does that number mean to you?
I mean, 17. I haven't really thought about it. I know "Medicine" just went No. 1 on the [Dance Club Songs] charts. You know, for me, because I'm a dancer — because I started that way since I loved dancing in clubs and that's how I started — it's very special to me, that part of my life. That's kind of what molded me and shaped me to being the performer that you see out there today. So to have dance No. 1's is like, "Yeah, those songs were hot." That's where people who dance, that's where people who live music really live. Yeah, so, it's an amazing thing to be able to have that.
You have a real knack for picking hip-hop artists to get on your tracks whether it's a Cardi B on "Dinero" or French Montana on "Medicine"–
I love hip-hop. [Laughs].
I love hip-hop. I grew up in The Bronx. I live it. I'm still like… when I'm warming up, that's what I warm up to. That's kind of what's in my soul. But there's two things: there's hip-hop and Latin music. Those two things kind of get me going like no other kind of music — and I love all types of music. I love country music, I love everything. But those two kind of make my blood sizzle.
Watching you onstage, you just don't get tired. The passion is just there.
But that's my job, to not let you think I'm tired. But I be like [starts breathing heavily].
Right, but even just talking to you, that passion is still there. How is that passion for both music and acting still so high at this juncture in your career?
You know, I just love it. I don't know. I don't know. It was something that I loved since I was very, very young. My mom introduced me to musicals, movies and music. She loved all three. She was a dancing around the living room mom, having us being The Supremes mom, having her introduce me to Barbara Striesand and introduce me to every old musical. Introduce me to Jean Kelly, Cyd Charisse and all the contemporary music that she was into like R&B. So I just grew up with that.
It was always a part of me and I just knew from a very young age that that was what I was going to do. I knew I was going to do it and even to this day, I just still feel like that little girl who wanted to do that. I think that's why I have so much joy and sage. And it doesn't tire me because I'm living my biggest dreams. It's a beautiful thing and I never take it for granted.
Now in terms of your upcoming movie Hustlers with Cardi B, Keke Palmer and Lizzo, who surprised you the most in terms of their acting abilities and why?
With their acting ability?! First of all, they were all great, let me tell you that. That's not gas, that's not bullshit. They were all awesome. So that was fun, because sometimes, you can get somebody and you're like, "Uh oh." And I'm so serious about the acting. So I'm like, "Nah uh." But they were great. Who surprised me the most? I think Keke.
Because she was great at improv, and not everybody has that knack, you know what I mean? But they were all great. I expected Cardi to be good, I expected Lizzo to be good, but I didn't know enough about Keke. I had seen her audition tape. I did a little bit of research on her when they were thinking [about her role]. We went through so many people for that part, so many people.
But when I saw her — I had watched a couple of interviews of her and stuff like that — I was like, "This girl has something. She has personality." And she was awesome. We had fun from the first scene. I was like, "OK. We're gon' have fun!"
With this being your birthday tour and you're turning 50 in a few weeks, if you could pick one word to title this chapter of your life, what word would that be and why?
Oh wow! One word?! The pressure is on. It's like, "What's the word?" [Laughs.] I'd have to say "perfection."
You know why? I'm gon' tell you why. Because I've always had great moments in my life and I've had hard times but there's times when my career was going awesome. There were times when my personal life was going good, but they never coincided. I never had both at the same time and right now in my life, I feel like my personal life and my career are in sync, and I think that's because I'm in a good place. It took me a long time to find that balance, to find that self love, to find that thing that makes you feel complete. And I think we're finally there.
And that doesn't mean that we don't have places to grow or evolve too, yes, but that's the journey of life and you have to know that. But right now, there's so much happiness and so much contentment in my life right now with all my kids, my relationship and you saw those fans out there, my work, my producing, my acting. It's a great time.