Salt N Pepa
|Salt||Sandra Denton||November 9th, 1964 Kingston, Jamaica|
|Pepa||Cheryl James||April 8th, 1964 Brooklyn, New York|
|Spinderella||Deidra Roper||August 3rd, 1970 Brooklyn, New York|
Salt-n-Pepa is an American hip hop group from Queens, New York that came onto the music scene in 1985 and went on to sell over 13 million albums and singles according to RIAA.com. They are the top selling female rap act, consisting of the line-up of: Cheryl James (now known as Cheryl Wray), Sandra Denton ("Salt" and "Pepa", respectively), and the group's DJ, Deidra "Dee Dee" Roper (Spinderella).
The Early Years
Originally calling themselves Supernature (for just the first single), James and Denton debuted in 1985 on the small Pop Art record label with the single "The Show Stopper", an answer record to Doug E. Fresh's hit record "The Show". "The Show Stopper" was produced by Hurby Azor (who had to do it as a school project) and sampled a music scene from the 1985 hit movie "Revenge of the Nerds." It garnered play on many urban stations and became a modest R&B hit. With this success, James and Denton changed the group's name to Salt-N-Pepa (which they had called themselves in the first verse of the song) and signed to Next Plateau Records. Their 1986 début album, Hot, Cool & Vicious, was also produced by Salt's then-boyfriend Hurby "Luv Bug" Azor (also the group's manager); he received song-writing credit for the album that was later disputed. It also featured DJ Latoya Hanson as the original Spinderella. She appears on the album cover with James and Denton but would soon be replaced by Roeper, who would keep the name Spinderella.
Hot, Cool & Vicious received some airplay on R&B stations around the country thanks to the songs "My Mic Sound Nice" and "Tramp". But when San Francisco DJ and producer Cameron Paul created a remix of "Push It", the b-side to "Tramp", it gave the group their first major hit single. "Push It" was added to subsequent pressings of Hot, Cool & Vicious and was released as a single, quickly becoming a platinum Top 20 pop hit, receiving a Grammy nomination, and thrusting the album to Platinum album status in the US with 1 million sold, making them the first female rap act to go gold or platinum. The album would eventually sell 1.2 million total worldwide.
Salt-n-Pepa's next album release, 1988s A Salt With a Deadly Pepa, contained the R&B hit and moderate pop hit "Shake Your Thang", featuring the go-go band E.U.. Minor hits were also seen in "Everybody Get Up" and "Twist And Shout", with the latter becoming a pop hit in the UK. The album would sell about 800,000 worldwide with roughly 600,000 of those in the US, attaining gold status.
Their third album, Blacks' Magic, was released in March 1990, and was a personal album for the women on many fronts. Azor —- often late or a no show to their sessions as he was producing other acts - agreed to let the women work with different producers to finish the album. James and Roper took on producing assignments themselves and the trio also hired different producers for additional songs, such as Invincible's producer Dana Mozie. This would also be the first album to feature Roper on vocals as well as DJ'ing. The result would be six singles and three hits released by Next Plateau Records: "Expression", #1 on the R&B Chart for over 10 weeks and produced by Salt; "Independent"; "I Don't Know" (featuring Kid N Play); "Do You Want Me", (#21 pop); "Let's Talk About Sex" (Top 20 pop); and "You Showed Me". Pepa would also become the first group member to become pregnant, showcasing her bulging belly in music videos such as "Expression" and "Independent" no matter how much the camera tried to hide it. The album would sell 1.3 million worldwide with a million of those sold in the US. A greatest hits album would later be released called "A Blitz of Salt-N-Pepa Hits", featuring remixed versions of songs from the group's first three albums.
Salt-n-Pepa's fourth studio album Very Necessary, released in September 1993 on London Records (see 1993 in music) was their most successful album to date. Breaking further away from Azor, whom the group accused of not paying them fair royalties, the album featured production by Salt, Pepa, and Spinderella. Buoyed by the singles "Shoop" (co-produced by Pepa and their first US Top Five), "Whatta Man" (featuring En Vogue and also a Top Five hit) and "None of Your Business", the album eventually sold six million worldwide with four million of those in the US (4x platinum) at its time of release, making them the first female rap act to have a multi-platinum album. The group toured and Salt went on to co-star in the motion picture Who's the Man?. Pepa co-starred in the movie Joe's Apartment and began dating Treach of the rap group Naughty By Nature. The trio also won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance in 1995 for the single "None Of Your Business", making them the first female rap Grammy winners.
Having now broken completely away from Azor, Salt-N-Pepa signed with Red Ant Entertainment and undertook production duties once again. Their fifth album, Brand New released on Red Ant in 1997, hit stores a few months later and received good reviews upon release. Red Ant, however, filed for bankruptcy soon afterwards, 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 bankrupt label, they only scored minor hits such as "R U Ready" and "Gitty Up". The album sold 700,000 worldwide with 500,000 of those in the US.