Queens and Brooklyn-based female Rap trio Salt-N-Pepa produced multiple hits during the late 80s and early 90s and their history is a storied one in Hip Hop.
Selling more than any other female group in the history of the genre, Salt-N-Pepa helped create a path for subsequent women to thrive. Because of this, Billboard recently profiled them as people who changed the landscape for females in Hip Hop. Spinderella and Pepa recently talked with the magazine about their early days including the making of their first song and dealing with being labeled as “sell outs.”
“I remember our first song, our answer to Doug E Fresh’s and Slick Rick’s ‘The Show,'” Pepa said when recalling their early days in Hip Hop. “We did ‘The Show Stopper.’ Herbie wrote that and we thought, ‘What? We’re going up against Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick? Are you crazy?’ Marly Marl played it on the radio but also people were requesting it. A label contacted us. We weren’t trying to contact a label… We were playing at the hardest places in New York. We were ‘In Your Face’ types of females. They’re like, ‘Oh no, these girls are speaking their minds. Nothing to mess with.’ We went head on. The labels were coming to us ’cause we were selling and making those numbers.”
Salt-N-Pepa also talked about their early progression in Hip Hop including the difficult choices they made regarding their own music.
“When our music started to get popular, believe it or not, but we got slack when our songs were crossing over,” Pepa said. “Back then they’d call you a sell-out. That’s what we went through. It’s like we were outcasts. It was cool to be hardcore and underground, starving. We’re like, ‘We’re not doing any of that. Sorry guys!’ [Laughs] It was all about street credibility… We were feeling a little tension in the game because we were so popular. Being popular was being a sell out. When all these rappers, including KRS-One, would get together to make a song, I remember saying, ‘Oh they didn’t call us? Oh, okay. They’re acting funny.’ Back then, when you’d do anything, you had to have Salt-N-Pepa on it. I don’t care!” [Laughs]
Aside from describing the making of some of their most popular songs, Salt-N-Pepa also talked about how they inspired other women to rap and the affect they had on the lives of their fans.
“We were owning it and inspiring a lot of women,” Spinderella said. “A lot of our music had a message. And the thing that really motivated us during that time was how many women would come to us and say we inspired them. We were more encouraged by the fact that we were actually impacting a generation of women. We were really feeding off of that.
“Salt-N-Pepa was really raising the bar and we were the standard for women in Hip Hop. There was MC Lyte, there was YoYo and we all created this standard. The door was open and that allowed for women like Foxy Brown and Lil’ Kim to walk through and then Eve and Missy. Even TLC, they had that R&B and Hip Hop flow. Today, the door is still open but the ceiling doesn’t seem to be as high. But what we were doing was attacking issues as well as being cute and sexy. We were hitting issues and still seemed like the girls next door, so people responded to that. And it was global. We were that voice for the urban woman.”
Salt-N-Pepa has not released an album as a group since 1997’s Brand New. Pepa says that they tried recording new music together, but it didn’t work out at the time. She did open the possibility for collaborative work in the future.
Spinderella is a spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association. She also says that she plans on having the group reunite in the studio to create new material.