Salt-N-Pepa: Our Life in 15 Songs

The hip-hop pioneers tell the stories behind "Push It," "Shoop," Whatta Man" and more

Load Previous

"Let's Talk About Sex" (1991)

Salt: "Let's Talk About Sex" was controversial. We knew it. We said it in the beginning of the song: "I don't think they're gonna play this on the radio," which was a calculated challenge. We had already gotten flak for "Push It" and so it was us being really, really bold and challenging the status quo of radio. The song was about talking about sex. The song was not about sex. [Laughs.] The song was about communication and talking about a subject that nobody wants to talk about. So just from the gate, for me, it was brilliant. Because I knew it would catch everybody's ear, how could it not?

I remember somebody saying to my dad, "I used to love your daughter's music, but now she's going too far," and my dad saying to him, "Have you listened to the song?" And him going back and listening to the song and then coming back and apologizing to my dad.

Pepa: It wasn't a dirty song. It was an enlightenment song. Off the top, they thought it was going to be some raunchiness about this song. And that's why, when Peter Jennings, his daughter was listening to "Let's Talk About Sex" and he said, "What are you listening to?" And then he listened to the lyrics, and he was like, "Wow, this is a great song."

Salt: When Peter Jennings asked us to make it a PSA, then I rewrote it and made it, literally, a PSA about all the things that we don't know about HIV and a song to educate the masses ["Lets Talk About AIDS"]. It made the song even more important. … People would start asking us questions about HIV and AIDS, and we became advocates for the Gay Men's Health Crisis. … It really actually was embraced. I mean, to this day, people use it. They tell me all the time in their sex ed class ... it's their theme song. 

Back to Top