Before becoming an international icon, much of Jennifer Lopez’s music was targeted to an urban audience. In the early 2000s, she had a string of hits featuring some of the biggest names in hip hop. But one song, in particular, drew criticism due to her use of the N-Word. Ja Rule, who collaborated with Lopez on the song, saw no issue with Lopez using the word.
Ja Rule and Jennifer Lopez have collaborated on several songs
Rule and Lopez collaborated on two of their biggest hits in 2001. A remixed version of “I’m Real” was featured on her album J. Lo, as well as Rule’s album Pain Is Love.
The remixed version with Rule topped the Billboard Hot 100 for five weeks, though non-consecutive. It also topped the Hot 100 Airplay chart.
A follow-up duet, “Ain’t It Funny” was released shortly after. The song was popular among hardcore hip hop fans due to it being over a reworking of the beat to Craig Mack’s 1994 hit
“Flava in Ya Ear.” “Ain’t it Funny” peaked at number one on the Hot 100 chart.
Both singles have accompanying music videos with Lopez and Rule.
Ja Rule says Jennifer Lopez’s Spanish roots give her a pass to say the N-Word
In Rule and Lopez’s duet “I’m Rule,” Lopez sings during the bridge of the song, “Now people screaming “what the deal with you and so-and-so?” /I tell ’em n—as mind their biz but they dont hear me though.”
There was much backlash over Lopez, who Puerto Rican, using the N-word. In a later interview with Vlad TV, Rule admits that he was the one who wrote the song and included the word that caused such an uproar.
But Rule doesn’t see an issue with Lopez or any other person of Latin descent using the word because he believes their experiences align closely with the Black experience. More so, he and many others feel that Black and Latin cultures overlap.
“It’s kind of an unwritten thing that Spanish and Puerto Ricans and n—as, we’re all kind of in the same family,” he said. “So it’s like, why can’t she say n—a? All of my Spanish n—as I know say n—a. I never looked at them in any way and said, ‘Yo, watch that.’”
Furthermore, Rule believes Lopez received backlash because mainstream media do not always view Lopez as having urban roots, not understand the overlapping of cultures.
“I think they were upset because they don’t see her as “Jenny from the block or Jenny from the Bronx,” Rule says in reference to Lopez’s 2002 hit song. In the song, she details her New York upbringing and her relaxed personality. “They see her as this icon. Matter of factly, some people probably see her as white. They don’t understand the dialogue that is used in our hoods.”
At the time of the backlash, Lopez was labeled a racist. Per ABC News, she shot down any charges of such in a statement to The Associated Press, saying the idea that she’s racist is “absurd and hateful.”