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Salt N Pepa Biography

Home > Music > S > Salt N Pepa > Biography

Birth Place: New York City, New York, United States
Years Active: 1985 - 2002, 2007 - present
Genres: Hip Hop, Dance

Salt-N-Pepa is an American hip hop trio from Queens, New York, that was formed in 1985. The group, consisting of Cheryl James ("Salt", now Cheryl Wray), Sandra Denton ("Pepa"), and Deidra "Dee Dee" Roper (Spinderella), has sold over 15 million albums and singles worldwide.

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 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.

With the success of this song, the group's name was changed to Salt-N-Pepa (which they had called themselves in the first verse of the song) and they signed to the independent Next Plateau Records to record a full-length album. Roper then joined the group as the DJ, under the moniker Spinderella, and the group's first album “Hot, Cool & Vicious” was released in 1986.

“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 of "Push It", the B-side of the "Tramp" single, it gave the group their first major hit. "Push It" (U.S. #19, U.K. #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 for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, and the strength of that single catapulted the album to platinum sales in the U.S. with one million sold, making Denton, James, and Roper the first female rap act (group or solo) to go gold or platinum. The album ultimately sold over 1.3 million copies worldwide.

Salt-N-Pepa's next album release, 1988's “A Salt with a Deadly Pepa,” contained the Top 10 R&B hit and moderate pop hit "Shake Your Thang," featuring the go-go band E.U. A Top 20 R&B hit and a minor pop hit were also seen in "Everybody Get Up" and "Twist and Shout" (U.K. #4), respectively.

The group's third album “Blacks' Magic” was released in March 1990. This was the first album to feature Roper on vocals as well as DJ'ing. The result was six singles released by Next Plateau Records, several of which became hits, including "Expression" (U.S. #26, U.K. #23), a platinum single that 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" (U.S. #21, U.K. #5), certified gold, "Let's Talk About Sex" (U.S. #13, U.K. #2), certified gold, and later re-recorded as "Let's Talk About Aids" and "You Showed Me" (U.K. #15). The album ultimately sold over 1.6 million copies worldwide with a million of those sold in the U.S. "Let's Talk About Sex" brought the group its second Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.

Salt-N-Pepa's fourth studio album “Very Necessary” was released in October 1993 on London Records/Polygram. Buoyed by the hits "Shoop" (U.S. #4, U.K. #13), "Whatta Man" (U.S. #3, U.K. #7) (featuring En Vogue) and "None of Your Business," a Top 40 U.S. hit and a Top 20 U.K. hit, the album eventually sold seven million copies worldwide, with five million of those in the U.S. (5x platinum), making them the first female rap act (solo or group) to have a multi-platinum selling album. The trio 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, "Whatta Man" was also nominated in the same category. The album is the best selling album by a female rap act.

“Brand New” their fifth and final studio album was released in October 1997 by Red Ant Entertainment. Red Ant filed bankruptcy before the album was officially released. Salt-n-Pepa toured to support the album, despite the fact the album had no other promotion whatsoever. “Brand New” had two minor hits, "R U Ready" and "Gitty Up," the latter of which samples the Rick James song "Give it to Me." The album was certified gold in the U.S.

Salt-N-Pepa's greatest-hits album, entitled “Salt-N-Pepa: The Best Of,” was released in Europe in January 2000. They officially disbanded in 2002. To date, they have sold over 15 million albums and singles worldwide making them the best selling female rap act of all time.