Salt-N-Pepa is an American hip hop trio from Queens, New York. The group, consisting of Cheryl James (“Salt”), Sandra Denton (“Pepa”), and originally Latoya Hanson who was replaced by Deidra Roper (“DJ Spinderella”), was formed in 1985 and was one of the first all-female rap groups. Through their career, Salt-N-Pepa have won five awards: Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group (1995), MTV Video Music Award for Best Electronic Dance Music Video (1994), MTV Video Music Award for Best Choreography (1994), MTV Video Music Award for Best R&B Video (1994) and BET Hip Hop Awards I Am Hip-Hop Icon Award (2010).
The group entered the music industry at a time when rap music was believed to be a fad and major record companies were reluctant to sign rap artists. Many early rap artists were signed to independent labels. Originally calling themselves Super Nature (on their first single), James and Denton debuted in 1985 with the single “The Showstopper”, an answer record to Doug E. Fresh’s hit single “The Show”. “The Showstopper” was produced by Hurby Azor. The song utilized 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 Showstopper” became a modest R&B hit. Salt-N-Pepa made their impact on hip-hop by being the first all women rap group. With lots of concerns about sexist lyrics and video clips that objectified women’s bodies in hip hop music, many feminists disliked rap and hip-hop music because of its bad portrayal of women. However, Salt-N-Pepa flipped the script and changed the look of hip-hop. They wore scanty, 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.
In March 1999, Salt-N-Pepa embarked on a tour. Pepa married Treach of Naughty by Nature on July 27. Salt-N-Pepa’s greatest-hits album, entitled Salt-N-Pepa: The Best Of, was released in Europe on January 25, 2000. Pepa and Treach would remain married for two years but their tumultuous marriage would end 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 be releasing her first solo album, but subsequently did not release the product. She was featured on the remix version of the Salt City Six’s “Shine”, on the album Holy South: World Wide, a compilation of Christian rap and Christian R&P (Rhythm & Praise) songs. The album was executive 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. She released an autobiography entitled Let’s Talk About Pep in August 2008. The book was co-written by author Karen Hunter and offers a glimpse behind the fame, family, failures, and successes of Pepa’s life, as well as being a member of one of hip-hop’s most successful acts. It features an introduction by Queen Latifah, and an epilogue by Missy Elliott. To accompany the book, she also launched her own social network for her fans at http://www.LetsTalkAboutPep.com. She also starred in the reality TV series Let’s Talk About Pep on the VH-1 network.
Spinderella is a radio personality on KKBT 100.3 in Los Angeles, California. 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.
Salt-N-Pepa performing at the Canberra Theatre in 2013
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 ever 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, 2001 , The Salt-n-Pepa Show debuted on VH1. Pepa initially started the formation of the series as she had 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. On May 9, 2009 Salt-N-Pepa performed a concert in Honolulu, Hawaii 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 out on a national tour entitled 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 up for rap group Public Enemy in Brooklyn, New York as part of the Martin Luther King Jr. Concert Series. They brought out rap duo Kid N Play after performing Whatta Man.
The trio made a November 2014 appearance in a Geico insurance commercial performing “Push It”.