"We are still humbled by our success. We give thanks to God."
Salt-N-Pepa are the most successful and significant female rap act ever!
Salt (Cheryl James), Pepa (Sandi Denton) and DJ Spinderella (Dee Dee Roper) have consistently, over the course of 10 years, reigned as the only female rap act to be repeatedly certified Platinum. That means they've done it more than once. That means they will continue on that journey.
The Salt-N-Pepa story is more than a tale of longevity, multi-Platinum records, and a fist full of industry accolades. Salt-N-Pepa have endured because Salt-N-Pepa matter. Some boast about girl power, however, Salt-N-Pepa have been empowering men and women, boys and girls for over a decade, giving their fans a sense of self worth, purpose and faith. Salt-N-Pepa don't just talk the talk either, they walk the walk of their conviction. From their charity involvement to their own personal philosophies and triumphs, Salt-N-Pepa personify a strength, commitment, intelligence and determination that continues to inspire their fans, critics and peers alike.
Success comes with a price, however, and Salt-N-Pepa have overcome some unseen obstacles to get to this current chapter in their book of life. It is fitting, then, that the group named its fifth CD 'Brand New' -- a title symbolic of a newfound creative control and spirit, as well as the first release under their new label deal with London Records and Red Ant Entertainment. Brand New also marks the first Salt-N-Pepa album that was conceived, written, arranged and produced (with additional production and mixing from Chad Elliott and Joseph Powell) by the group, on their own. Brand New is the manifestation of the group's musical liberation. It is Salt-N-Pepa's declaration of independence, their first of many tour de force efforts.
Whether you've been a fan since "Push It", or have just keyed into the group, it is impossible to ignore the sheer determination and sense of liberation that permeates Brand New. "We really got to explore and express ourselves more than we ever have had the chance to do before," explains Salt, who produced or shares production credits on nine out of the 13 tracks. "This album is our baby. We love it. In fact, this is the first Salt-N-Pepa album that both Sandi and I agree is one we can listen to straight through without fast forwarding through a song. Every song is different, every style is different, the messages are different. We're hoping Brand New is a pleasure to listen to."
It is. It is also the group's strongest album to date. From the gospel tinged "Hold On" (featuring guest performances by Kirk Franklin and Sounds of Blackness), which deals with Salt-N-Pepa's deepening spiritual beliefs; to the get loose, get down grooves of "Gitty Up", built on a Rick James loop and filled with what Sandi describes as that "old Salt-N-Pepa feeling"; the salacious and sexy "Boy Toy", which was co-produced by Pepa; the deep down R&B emotion of "Do Me Right"; or the first single, the defiantly joyous "RU Ready", Brand New refuses to limit itself by sticking to one definable sound. The one constant? Honest feelings, street smarts, pop savvy, and universal appeal. The sound of Brand New is the very personal sound of Salt-N-Pepa.
Appearing with Salt-N-Pepa on Brand New are an eclectic mix of friends, including Queen Latifah and Mad Lion ("Friends", which was co-produced by Sandi and co-written by Latifah, Sandi and Naughty By Nature's Treach), K.E.I., Day Ta Day, and Andrew Hellier of the group Modern Yesterday, all of whom are signed to Salt-N-Pepa's Jireh Records, Salt's sister Kim, who adds vocals on "Silly of You", newcomers Alicia Rushing and Dawne Shivers, who lent their background vocals to numerous tracks, and special guest artist Sheryl Crow, who's on the edgy and soulful "Imagine".
While Salt-N-Pepa may step by the predictable on Brand New, there are some of the elements that their fans have come to know and love over the years. Namely their ability to mix socially aware lyrics with songs that work their magic below the belt. Brand New contains several tracks that have decided messages, like the cautionary tale about abuse "The Clock is Tickin'". But fear not. The girls are still talking about sex and having fun doing it. Salt laughs, "Sandi was all worried about this album being too message oriented and I said girl! You listen to this album? This album is very racy!"
Salt-N-Pepa began working toward this moment in 1986, when they first made some noise with their hit single "Showstoppa", an estrogen stoked retort to Doug E. Fresh's "The Show". "Showstoppa"'s success led to Salt-N-Pepa signing to a small indie label, Next Plateau, and recording their 1986 debut album Hot, Cool & Vicious. The album would go platinum and contained the Hit "Push It", which reached the number one spot on the R&B and rap charts and sold over a million copies in the US and the UK. In 1987, "Push It" garnered Salt-N-Pepa their first Grammy nomination for best rap performance.
But that was just the girl's lauching pad. In 1988 they recorded A Salt With A Deadly Pepa, which went double platinum and followed that album up two years after with Black's Magic. Another platinum plus record, Black's Magic stayed on the Billboard album charts for more than two years and contained the blockbuster platinum singles "Expression" (Billboard's best rap single of 1990), "Do You Want Me", "Independent", and the groups anthem "Let's Talk About Sex" which zoomed up the pop charts to the number 11 spot in the U.S. and topped the international pop, rap and dance charts, while earning the group their second Grammy nomination. The song's forthright message became so much a part of Salt-N-Pepa's signature style that in 1990, the group was asked to allow the track to be used as part of a PSA for Aids education. That single, "Let's Talk About Aids" and the ensuing video, which was written and co-produced by Salt, was featured in a landmark prime time ABC special, "In A New Light", hosted by Peter Jennings. The "Let's Talk About Aids" video would also become a PSA distributed by the New York State Department of Heath and all sales proceeds for both the video and the single were donated to the National Minority AIDS Council and the TJ Martell Foundation for Aids Research.
That same year the group released Salt-N-Pepa: Greatest Hits and continued to play to sold out audiences worldwide.
By 1992, Salt-N-Pepa had made two very significant changes in their professional and personal lives. The group signed a major label deal with London Records and welcomed motherhood. Having children gave the young women an even greater sense of power and purpose, and during their time off between giving birth and reentering the studio, Salt-N-Pepa laid the groundwork for an album that would prove to be well worth the wait.
In October 1993, Salt-N-Pepa dropped Very Necessary, the album which would mark their first recognized forays into production and writing, and which (not surprisingly) would go on to sell over four million copies. Very Necessary spawned two number one R&B and top five hits, the certified Gold "Shoop", and the platinum single "Whatta Man". However, it was "None Of Your Business" that earned Salt-N-Pepa the 1994 Grammy award for 'best rap performance by a duo or group'. Very Necessary became a breakthrough album and the group's toned, sexy but approachable appeal, partnered with sassy videos and a string of TV appearances and sold out concerts, cemented the girls from Queens' status as the premier female rap act of the decade. The group became the subject of countless articles, and soon thereafter branched out into acting, guest starring on several sitcoms and films, and eventually signing a TV development deal with Disney.
The time off between Very Necessary and Brand New, has been well spent. Pepa operates HollyHood, a hip hop clothing store in Atlanta, and has appeared in a couple of feature films, while Spin is the proprietor of She Things, a Salon and Day Spa located in Queens. Salt has been busy as well. Along with her burgeoning production and writing career (her next projects include Spin's long awaited solo album and an album by her sister's act Blue Denim), Salt is featured on God's Property's chart blazing single "Stomp".
Millions of albums, scores of videos, accolades, awards, and the love and respect of the hip hop, pop and R&B communities. In an industry built on ego, Salt-N-Pepa have triumphed because they remain true to themselves. "People who come in contact with us feel the realness and it's not a front with us", states Pepa, "we still are humbled by our success. We give thanks to God."