“Fight for your rights, stand up and be heard… You’re just as good as any man, believe that, word.”
– Salt-N-Pepa (from the song None Of Your Business)
Hip-hop music has had an abundance of fundamental shifts in sound, tone and subject matter over the past 40 years. Most have been so severe that they ultimately spelled professional doom for many artists who tried to keep up with the times by simply rolling over and – metaphorically – letting the styles engulf their being. Some of the most notable shifts were the rise of NewJack Swing, the rise of Gangsta Rap, the shift to Jiggy, and the most recent rise of drill and trap music. Golden era artists had it the absolute worst. While many were able to spot the sell-out nature of the almost gimmicky nature of many hip-hop sub-genres, and maintain a timeless backpack/underground aesthetic we still knock today, some of your fave rappers either went out trying to fit into the gangsta mold, or as new jack swinging casanovas in a fly zoot suits. To see any artist from the 80’s still making any sort of noise today, really speaks to their ability to make relevant music across all the sub-genres, and stay true to – and to see any female artists (in hip-hop) still maintaining relevance is, well, that much more remarkable. I’d like to take some time to focus on one female group in particular: Salt-N-Pepa.
At a time in history when hip-hop was largely considered a fad that major record companies were reluctant to prescribe to, Salt-N-Pepa took over the scene with the infectious hit Push It. Their debut album went platinum, which made them the first all-female group to reach platinum status. In fact, they were the first all-female group ever. They released a total of 5 albums throughout the course of their (recording) career, with none selling less than gold. Their fourth album, Very Necessary, was their highest selling effort, selling over 5 million records. How could it not? It had massive hits like Shoop, Whatta Man featuring En Vogue, and None of Your Business.
After their final release Brand New, which suffered from failed promotion due to label folding, the ladies called it quits. Life went on; life after limelight took effect and there were (independent from each other) marriages, children, radio hosting, television shows, and, well, real life.
What goes around comes around. The sharp resurgence in hip-hop nostalgia, which has seen groups like Naughty By Nature steady touring over the past few years, Salt-N-Pepa just couldn’t stay away from the stage. With a legion of fans worldwide hungry to relive their younger years, and new fans who caught the bug by hearing one of their timeless hits, they’re still a heavy draw. Rightfully so, they wrote the blueprint for all-female hip-hop groups, and artists in general. They had bars, they could dance, they were liberated, empowered and sexual (without being at all sleazy or over the top), and above all, they made great music. They flourished in a time before the internet, so rather than be reduced to a series of singles, they have an untouchable catalogue of gems that goes deeper than Shoop, Push It and Let’s Talk About Sex.
We’ve taken the liberty of pulling together a Coles notes mix of some of our fave joints. R U Ready? Salute to the real Queens of hip-hop.