In an interview with Vulture published on Tuesday, the singer shared her reaction to learning that her song was chosen as the soundtrack of Jennifer Lopez’s sexy pole-dancing scene in the movie, which Lopez herself has said she was so proud of after shooting that she “[felt] like crying.”
“Listen, I just want to say: I would give my song to Jennifer Lopez to dance to for free, any day, any time,” Apple, 42, said. “I really want to see the movie. If I were a person who actually left my house, I’d go.”
Until the film came out, Apple said she didn’t really remember giving the rights to “Criminal” to Hustlers, mainly because she’s generous with the rights to that particular song.
“I was like, ‘Whoa, I forgot about that! That’s so great,'” she said. “Basically, every single time any college dancer or So You Think You Can Dance [contestant] asks, I’ll give them the rights. ‘Criminal’ has always been what people ask for the most, so it’s always been my little help-out-people song.”
As to what made her decide to license “Criminal” to Hustlers (the first movie to feature one of her songs), she said, “It was just about what it was and who was in it.”
“But I didn’t know [Jennifer Lopez] was going to be dancing to it,” she added. “I’ve seen a lot of pieces about how they got [the rights to] ‘Criminal,’ but it’s just funny to me — there’s a disconnect between agents, because I never got a video of the dance. And I want it, bad! I’m all for the movie, though, and I’m excited to see it.”
Apple famously wrote “Criminal” in 45 minutes at the age of 17 after her record label asked for a single. The song went on to earn her a Grammy Award in 1998, and the music video featured Apple sulking in different states of undress. When asked what “Criminal” means to her now as an adult, Apple said that the lyrics “don’t really mean anything to me.”
“The way it started, the video, all the crap I got — using this song now, and using it in this movie for a purpose I believe in, is like reclaiming it,” she said of the song, which she recently decided to donate two years worth of royalties from to While They Wait, an organization that aids immigrants and refugees. “I’m not that scared girl in underwear anymore. The song isn’t that to me anymore. It’s my way of paying for things that I want to get done.”
In a post-interview text message with the Vulture reporter who interviewed her, Rachel Handler, Apple went on to tell the story of when she met Lopez, 50, in the late 1990s.
“I forgot to tell you my J.Lo story from like 1996 or ‘97!” she wrote, according to Vulture. “I was in NY at a pre-Grammy party (because I used to go to s— like that). And my sister Maude was with me, but she was on the other side of this big room filled with little tables and mingling celebrities and executives … So J.Lo’s album hadn’t come out yet, and nobody had started talking about her ass yet — and I swear I saw her (J.Lo), and ran to get my sister JUST to show her how beautiful that ass was — and the moment I pointed her out to my sister, J.Lo turned to speak to someone and her butt was just above table-level, and her butt knocked over someone’s glass of champagne and she didn’t even notice. It was glorious.”
She added later: “I’m still getting over watching [Hustlers director] Lorene Scafaria say my name and seeing J.Lo nod, like she knows who I am — that’s just strange!”