Jennifer Lopez appreciates her boyfriend in the luminescent “Papi.”
An urgetn siren and flashing synths open the single, setting a smoldering tone. Beads of sweat are on her forehead. She’s been dancing for about an hour to the music. Her girlfriends are still out on the floor. She laughs as they attempt the Running Man. She takes a picture of it and sends it to her boyfriend. A few minutes later, he texts back “lol” and asks her how she’s doing. She grins and answers she feels less stressed but she’s a lot better. He puts her first and is incredibly thoughtful. Sometimes, she wonders what she did to get such a great guy. He’s her rock and encourages her to try, even if she’s doubtful of herself. It’s his belief in her that makes her want to excel. (“Let all the heat pour down/I'm good as long as he's around/He let's me wear the crown/I do my best to make him proud.”)
In the pre-chorus, she has found the one she wanted. (“Now all my super ladies/I got my baby, if you got your baby, baby.”)
In the chorus, she joins her friends back on the dance floor and breaks into the Macarena for old time’s sake. Her friend films it, posting it on her Facebook. She knows her boyfriend will see it later and get a kick of it. (“Move your body, move your body/Dance for your papi/Rock your body, rock your body/Dance for your papi/Put your hands up in the air, dance for your man if you care/Put your hands up in the air, air, air, oh oh oh oh/Move your body, move your body/Dance for your papi/Rock your body, rock your body/Dance for your papi, oh oh oh oh.”)
Her engagement ring catches the light. He proposed to her three months ago while they were on vacation. They were at a waterfall in Hawaii when he got down on one knee. She suspected he was going to ask her but didn’t want to get her hopes up. It’s a three-karat platinum princess diamond ring, a price which she knows set him back on six month’s worth of car payments. He thought she was worth it. She tries to involve him in as much of her conversations as she can. (“My rock is shining bright/Even if he ain't by my side/He makes sure that I glow/I make sure everybody knows.”)
The pre-chorus and chorus are sung again.
In the bridge, she’s overjoyed to him in her life. The thought of him makes her giddy. (“Step up, step up/Let your hair down/Pop, drop, and lock/It go all out/If If he rocks/Tear up the crowd/Dance for your papi/Quiérelo, quiérelo/Suéltate el pelo/Levántate y calla seguramente/Ve con todas/Sí, eres lo máximo/Azota baldosa/Baila para tú Papi.”)
The pre-chorus and chorus are sung again to end the single.
Lopez’s loose, welcoming vocals are humbled, touching reality without gagging. It’s a revitalizing transformation and a stark difference to her past singles, which were self-centered and emphasized fame and wealth above everything else. Even as she talks about the ring, it’s not in a superior, materialistic way. It means a lot to her he thought she deserved such an expensive ring.
The triumphant “Papi” has Lopez finding her niche.
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