December 23, 2002 12:00 PM

Jennifer Lopez (Epic)

With her hip-hop remixes of last year’s “I’m Real” and “Ain’t It Funny,” both incorporating guest rapper Ja Rule, J.Lo stumbled upon a hitmaking formula that would do former flame P. Diddy proud. The onetime In Living Color dancer continues in fly-girl mode on her fourth album, bringing in emcees Jadakiss and Styles for the fun but frivolous first single, “Jenny from the Block”; LL Cool J joins the party on the radio-ready ditty “All I Have.” But Lopez, who all but abandons the Latin-and dance-pop of her previous discs, goes it alone for the sexy, jazz-kissed hip-hop of cuts like “Loving You,” which samples Mtume’s 1983 R&B hit “Juicy Fruit.” The disc, however, is dragged down by slower numbers that expose her thin vocals. The worst is “Dear Ben,” a gag-inducing ode to Lopez’s famous fiance that she cowrote: “I love you, you’re perfect/A manifestation of my dreams.” Save it for the vows.–C.A. BOTTOM LINE: Lukewarm Lopez

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