First Hit #1: October 20, 2001
Which I’m Real was the hit? It’s an important distinction, because the original I’m Real and the Murder Remix are completely different songs. The original is a silly little dance pop number, the remix is quite different. Given that Ja Rule gets a credit on Billboard, and he definitely isn’t on the original, I’m going to assume that it’s the remix that got the hit.
The remix is a significantly more interesting song anyway. Instead of something dance pop, it’s slowed right down, turning into a duet between the sugary Lopez and the sandpaper-esque Ja Rule. It’s a dramatic contrast, and while they might feel diametrically opposed musically it actually works in their favor, and the song as a whole has a kind of tension through it which the radically different voices support. The loping beat, oddly reminiscent of children’s music, contrasts against lyrics that are largely concerned with sex and street cred. Lopez is jumping on a hip hop trend because it’s popular, but the contradictions in the track make it an unexpected attempt at expanding scope. It’s dipping its toe into a new genre, but more importantly, it’s so weird that it makes the attempt worthwhile. Lopez is certainly more concerned with commerce than art, her music generally reflects this, but here she makes something decidedly offbeat and it works.
Also, the remix actually supports the idea that Lopez is real, while the original has some robot voice which feels unintentionally ironic.