Salt-N-Pepa performing at the Canberra Theatre in Australia, 2013
|Also known as||Super Nature|
|Origin||New York City, U.S.|
Salt-N-Pepa (also stylized as Salt 'N' Pepa or Salt 'N Pepa) is an American hip-hop girl group formed in 1985. Group members included Salt (Cheryl James), Pepa (Sandra Denton), and DJ Spinderella (Deidra Roper). They were signed to Next Plateau Records and released their single "Push It" in 1987, which hit number one in three countries and became a top 10 or top 20 hit in various countries. Their debut album Hot, Cool & Vicious sold more than 1 million copies worldwide, making them the first female rap act to achieve gold and platinum-status. Their fourth album Very Necessary sold over 7 million copies worldwide (5 million in the U.S.), making it the highest-selling album by a female rap act in history.
Salt-N-Pepa have sold over 15 million records worldwide, making them one of the best-selling rap acts of all time, male or female. The group has been nominated for a Grammy Award several times. The trio won the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for their song "None of Your Business", making them one of the first female rap acts to win a Grammy Award, along with Queen Latifah, who won during the same year. Their success in rap and hip-hop culture has earned them the honorific title "The First Ladies of Rap and Hip Hop".
1985–1987: Formation and early years
In mid-1985, Brooklyn native Cheryl James met Queens resident Sandra Denton, both studying nursing at Queensborough Community College. The pair became close friends and co–workers at Sears. Co-worker Hurby "Luv Bug" Azor was studying record production at the Center of Media Arts and asked James and Denton to record for him as a class project. This resulted in the single "The Showstoppa", an answer record to Doug E. Fresh's hit single "The Show" by the duo, who originally called themselves Super Nature, along with DJ Latoya Hanson in late 1985, produced by Azor. The single used a melody from the 1984 film Revenge of the Nerds. The finished recording garnered some airplay on a New York City rap radio program. The independent Pop Art Records gave it an official release, and "The Show Stoppa (Is Stupid Fresh)" became a modest R&B hit. The single reached No. 46 on the Billboard R&B chart. In September 1985, the group signed to Next Plateau Entertainment (formerly Next Plateau Records), adopting the stage name Salt-N-Pepa and released their debut album Hot, Cool & Vicious in December 1986.
In 1987, the group recruited Deidra Roper, a 15-year-old high-school student (aka Spinderella) after the departure of Hanson. The group entered the music industry at a time when hip hop was believed to be a fad, and major record companies were very reluctant to sign hip hop artists. Many early hip hop artists recorded for independent labels. Salt-N-Pepa made their impact on hip hop by being one of the first all-female rap groups. Concerned about sexist lyrics and video clips that objectified women's bodies in hip hop, many feminists disliked rap and hip hop because of its bad portrayal of women. However, Salt-N-Pepa changed the look of hip hop. They were scantily clad in sexy clothing and were not afraid to talk about sex and their thoughts about men. Their song "Let's Talk About Sex" was a huge hit.
With the success of "The Show Stoppa," the group's name was changed to Salt-N-Pepa. The group changed their name because in "The Show Stoppa" they rap the lines "Right now I'm gonna show you how it's supposed to be 'Cause we, the Salt and Pepa MCs". This resulted in radio stations getting phone calls requesting "The Show Stoppa" by Salt & Pepper. They signed to the independent Next Plateau Records to record a full-length album. The group's first album Hot, Cool & Vicious was released in 1986 with the original DJ Latoya Hanson, who was later replaced by Deidra "Spinderella" Roper. The album was produced by Hurby Azor, Salt's boyfriend at the time and the group's manager. Years later, the women found themselves with legal issues with Azor as they accused him of paying unfair royalties. Hot, Cool & Vicious provided some moderate R&B hits with the singles "My Mic Sound Nice", "Tramp", and "Chick On The Side". But when San Francisco DJ and producer Cameron Paul created a remix to "Push It", the B-side of the "Tramp" single, it gave the group their first major hit. "Push It" (US #19, UK #2) became a platinum single in the United States, and a hit in several other countries, and was added to subsequent pressings of Hot, Cool & Vicious. It was nominated for a Grammy Award, and the strength of that single catapulted the album to platinum sales in the U.S. with over 1 million copies sold, making Denton, James, and Roper the first female rap act to go platinum. The album ultimately sold 1.4 million copies worldwide.
1988–1992: A Salt with a Deadly Pepa and breakthrough
Salt-N-Pepa's next album A Salt with a Deadly Pepa was released on July 26, 1988, contained the top 10 R&B hit "Shake Your Thang", featuring the go-go band E.U. A top 20 R&B hit and a minor pop hit were seen in "Get Up Everybody (Get Up)" and "Twist and Shout", respectively; with "Twist and Shout" becoming a major hit in the UK (#4), and several European countries. The album became certified gold-status, for excess sales of 600,000 copies sold in the U.S. and a total of 800,000 copies sold internationally.
The group's third album Blacks' Magic was released on March 19, 1990. Pepa became the first group member to become pregnant. Azor produced some songs on the album. As he was producing other acts, he agreed to let the artists work with different producers to finish the album. James and Roper took on producing assignments themselves, and the trio hired different producers, such as Invincible's producer Dana Mozie. This was the first album to feature Roper on vocals as well as DJing. The result was six singles released by Next Plateau Records, several of which became hits: "Expression" (US #26, UK #40 in 1990, UK #23 in 1992), a platinum single that had been certified gold before it even cracked the U..S Hot 100 as it had already been #1 on the R&B Chart for 8 weeks, and produced by Salt; "Independent"; "I Don't Know" (featuring Kid 'n Play); "Do You Want Me" (US #21, UK #5), certified gold; "Let's Talk About Sex" (US #13, UK #2), certified gold, and later re-recorded as "Let's Talk About AIDs"; and "You Showed Me" (UK #15). The album ultimately sold 1.6 million copies worldwide with 1 million of those sold in the U.S. A greatest hits album called A Blitz of Salt-N-Pepa Hits, featuring some remixed versions of songs from the group's first three albums later was released.
1993–1996: Groundbreaking success, Very Necessary
Salt-N-Pepa's fourth studio album Very Necessary was released on October 12, 1993 on London Records/PolyGram. The album featured songwriting and production by Salt, Pepa, Spinderella, and Azor. Buoyed by the hits "Shoop" (U.S. #4, UK #13), co-produced by Pepa; "Whatta Man" (U.S. #3, UK #7) (featuring En Vogue); and "None of Your Business", a top 40 U.S. hit and a top 20 UK hit, the album eventually sold 7 million worldwide, with 5 million in the U.S. (5x platinum), making them the first female rap act (solo or group) to have a multi-platinum selling album. The group toured, and Salt co-starred in the movie Who's the Man?. Pepa co-starred in the movie Joe's Apartment. Pepa had been romantically involved with Treach of the rap group Naughty By Nature. The trio won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 1995 for the single "None of Your Business", making them the first female rap act to win Grammy. The album is the best-selling album by a female rap act.
1997–2004: Brand New and hiatus
By the time of their next album release, Salt-N-Pepa had gone through the legal process of completely breaking away from Azor, whom they accused of unfair royalty payments. Salt had stopped being romantically involved with him due to their many ups-and-downs. The trio also left London Records after one album and signed with Red Ant Records, though still distributed by PolyGram Records through its Island Records label. Red Ant offered the trio a $15 million signing bonus to sign. The group undertook production duties once again, but without Azor involved in any part of the album. The result was Brand New, released on October 21, 1997, which hit stores a few months later. However, Red Ant filed for bankruptcy soon afterward, halting promotion on all its releases, including Salt-N-Pepa's album. The group toured in support of the album, but without any promotion or marketing from the now-defunct Red Ant, they only scored minor hits with "R U Ready" and "Gitty Up". The album was certified gold in the U.S. for sales of over 500,000 and sold approximately another 200,000 worldwide. Although not as big a seller as its predecessor, it kept intact an unbroken string of platinum and gold studio albums by the trio.
In March 1999, Salt-N-Pepa embarked on a tour. Pepa married Treach of Naughty by Nature on July 27 of the same year. Salt-N-Pepa's greatest-hits album, titled The Best of Salt-N-Pepa, was released in Europe on January 25, 2000. Pepa and Treach remained married for two years, but their tumultuous marriage ended in divorce on July 31, 2001. With no albums contractually due at the time, Salt decided to quit the group, stating she had enough of the music industry and no longer wanted to be involved in it. They officially disbanded in 2002. Some time later, Salt announced that she would release her first solo album, but never ended up doing so. She was featured on the remix version of the Salt City Six's "Shine" on the album Holy South Worldwide, a compilation of Christian rap and Christian R&P (Rhythm & Praise) songs. The album was produced by ex-Three 6 Mafia member-turned-Christian rapper Mr. Del. Salt also revealed in later interviews that she had suffered from bulimia "many years ago". Pepa appeared on the fifth season of VH-1's The Surreal Life. Spinderella became a radio personality on KKBT 100.3 in Los Angeles. She hosted The Backspin (with DJ Mo'Dav), a nationally syndicated weekly radio show featuring old school hip hop music. She also periodically DJs at various clubs. The trio was disbanded for a total of five years.
Both Salt and Pepa appeared on VH-1's Hip Hop Honors in September 2005 as the trio were honorees. All three women reunited the following year for the next Hip Hop Honors program and performed "Whatta Man" with En Vogue. It was the trio's first performance in six years, and was their first performance of "Whatta Man" with En Vogue on stage. Salt-N-Pepa reformed in 2007. All three women now have children. Spinderella has a daughter with former NBA player Kenny Anderson. Her daughter has appeared on MTV's My Super Sweet Sixteen in 2008. Pepa has a son and a daughter. Salt has a daughter and a son.
On October 14, 2007, The Salt-n-Pepa Show debuted on VH1. Pepa initially started the formation of the series as she previously appeared on the network in The Surreal Life. The Salt-n-Pepa Show chronicled events in the lives of Pepa and Salt as they work out past issues and return to the recording studio. Spinderella has been featured in several episodes. Later in 2008, the trio performed with MC Lyte, Yo-Yo, and Lady of Rage at the BET Hip Hop Awards. Pepa released an autobiography titled Let's Talk About Pep in August 2008. The book was co-written by Karen Hunter. It features an introduction by Queen Latifah, and an epilogue by Missy Elliott. To accompany the book, she launched her own social network for her fans and also starred in the reality TV series Let's Talk About Pep on the VH-1 network.
On May 9, 2009 Salt-N-Pepa performed a concert in Honolulu, along with SWV and Lisa Lisa. The name of the show was Ladies of the 80s. They performed at the Good Vibrations Festival in Australia in February 2010, and the South West Four Festival, Clapham Common, London on August 29, 2010. On October 12, 2010, Salt-N-Pepa received the I Am Hip Hop Award at the BET Hip Hop Awards.
On February 4, 2011, Salt-N-Pepa headed on a national tour titled Salt-N-Pepa's Legends of Hip Hop Tour. Other acts on the tour included Whodini, Rob Base, Kurtis Blow, Doug E Fresh, Biz Markie, Naughty By Nature, MC Lyte, Big Daddy Kane, Kool Moe Dee, Slick Rick and Chubb Rock. On November 21, 2011, Salt-N-Pepa appeared on The X Factor Australia's third season with contestant and finalist Johnny Ruffo. They performed "Push It". On July 30, 2012, Salt-N-Pepa opened for rap group Public Enemy in Brooklyn, New York as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series. They brought rap duo Kid 'n Play after performing "Whatta Man".
The trio made a November 2014 appearance in a Geico insurance commercial performing "Push It". DJ Spinderella replaced temporary DJ Wendy Williams (The Wendy Williams Show) during Salt-N-Pepa's performance of "Push It", first airing December 18, 2015. The trio's hit song "Shoop" made a comeback on February 12, 2016, as one of the main theme songs featured in the blockbuster Marvel movie Deadpool. The duo, along with DJ Spinderella performed in Red Deer, Alberta (Canada) for Westerner Days at the Enmax Centrium on July 21, 2016.
In 2017–2018, the group toured as part of the I Love the 90's tour, performing in various locations, including in the UK Wembley Arena, Glasgow SSE, Liverpool Echo Arena and Birmingham. On October 16, 2018, Salt-N-Pepa appeared on the U.S. version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, with Kid N Play serving as their "plus one" in-studio lifeline.
In March 2019, it was announced that Salt-N-Pepa would have a biographical miniseries coming to the Lifetime network, highlighting the rise of the group to become one of the first successful female rap groups in hip hop. Queen Latifah, as well as Salt-N-Pepa will be executive producers of the series.
On May 2, 2019, the Mixtape Tour commenced in Cincinnati, Ohio. Performers on this tour include Salt-N-Pepa, Debbie Gibson, Tiffany, and Naughty by Nature, with New Kids on the Block being billed as the headline performers. The next day, DJ Spinderella announced in an Instagram post that she had been "terminated" from Salt-N-Pepa as of January, and broke her silence after the band hadn't made a public announcement regarding their parting of ways. DJ Cocoa Chanelle, formerly of BET Networks and HOT 97, became the replacement DJ.
- Studio albums
- Hot, Cool & Vicious (1986)
- A Salt with a Deadly Pepa (1988)
- Blacks' Magic (1990)
- Very Necessary (1993)
- Brand New (1997)
Awards and nominations
- American Music Award
- Grammy Award
- 1989: Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group: "Push It" (nominated)
- 1992: Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group: "Let's Talk About Sex" (nominated)
- 1995: Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group: "Whatta Man" (w/ En Vogue) (nominated)
- 1995: Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group: "None of Your Business" – winner
- 1997: Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group: "Champagne" (nominated)
- MTV Video Music Award
- 1994: Best Dance Video "Whatta Man" – winner
- 1994: Best R&B Video "Whatta Man" – winner
- 1994: Best Choreography In A Video "Whatta Man" – winner
- 1995: Best Dance Video "None of Your Business" (nominated)
- 1995: Best Choreography "None of Your Business" (nominated)
- Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards
- 1989: Favorite Female Musician (nominated)
- Soul Train Music Awards
- 1989: Best Rap Album "A Salt with a Deadly Pepa" (nominated)
- Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards
- 1995: Entertainer of the Year – winner
- 2nd Annual VH1 Hip Hop Honors Honoree
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We're pumped for Salt-N-Pepa tonight on the TD Main Stage…
- Mercuri, Monica. "Salt-N-Pepa Miniseries Coming To Lifetime". Forbes. Retrieved 2019-04-25.
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