By: Gabriela Yareliz
This song really brings serious nostalgia with it. I was like 11, it was 2001, and I was living in Charleston, South Carolina. I was deep in a friendship/youth group that thrived off of pettiness, jealousy, watermelon lip gloss and gum (the good kind). Typical when you are a tween. This song was it. “I’m real” by Jennifer Lopez and Ja Rule. We were all singing it. We’d be getting ready for a church talent show and try making choreography to it. I remember we went out to do some kind of service to the community, and a truck was at a light, just beside us. It was Sabbath, and we all chimed in singing this song and got berated big time. We still felt cool, though our cheeks were burning.
This song was on the J.Lo album, released in 2001. It took us by storm, this song. There are definitely a bunch of drug references and language we did not understand, but there is an effortlessly cool vibe to this song that makes you walk with swagger. It’s a ridiculous song about a couple trying to figure out if this is as good as it gets.
J.Lo’s side of the song is about a woman who goes through so many relationships, and says:
/My appetite for lovin’
Is now my hunger pain/
Apparently, this was the first song where she wrote the melody. It was more personal. (Source) Even in 2001, she had already had plenty of public relationships.
In a world full of fakes, here they are trying to convince each other that they are the real deal (“I’m real”). It’s not a deep song, but it topped the charts for five weeks and gave J.Lo a less pop/ballad sound and a more R&B sound. Swag. Can we have a moment of silence for her pink velour suit? We all wanted one.
As I’ve gotten older, I have seen so many people show who they “really are.” People I knew growing up end up being totally different humans. Literally. Huge departures from who they were (supposedly). It almost makes the past feel like a lie; another world; another time. It all almost feels fake. One realizes that part of this is due to the lack of sincerity in people. People thrive off of being fake and knowingly manipulating things so they can reap advantages, attention and status in certain circles. On top of that, they treat others with hostility and judgment. Then, BOOM, they surprise you. They really surprise you.
And listen, no one is perfect. We are all on a journey and life is long, but I have a satisfaction in knowing that no matter what stage of life I found myself in, I haven’t put on a show. I’m real. Always have been. And by God’s grace, always will be. Many didn’t like me (and still don’t) and tried to cut me down, but I was the real deal, babe. And that counts for something.
Sharing the song below for nostalgia’s sake because that’s what we are doing here right? Music takes us back to a place and time, and this song does just that for me. I’m 11 again, in the hot South Carolina sun with my friends. I have a little too much lip gloss on my lips, and I’m telling the world I’m real, “and I can’t go on without you.” Hard loving. Straight thugging. What song gave you swag as a kid, even if you didn’t know what it meant? We all have one.