Salt-N-Pepa: Our Life in 15 Songs - Rolling Stone
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Salt-N-Pepa: Our Life in 15 Songs

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

Salt-N-Pepa: My Life in 15 Songs

Everett Collection

Over the course of five albums released between 1986 and 1997, Salt-N-Pepa were funky pioneers popping the bubbles of rap machismo, taking aim at tramps, cheaters, gutter-minds, slut-shamers and smooth-talkers. After becoming first female rappers to be certified Platinum, partially thanks to the success of 1986’s smash “Push It,” they were included the very first crop of nominees for the Rap Performance Grammy. “I’ll Take Your Man” helped shape the sound of New Orleans rap and 1988’s “Shake Your Thang” became an important bridge between hip-hop and D.C.’s percussive gogo scene. Bolstered by singles like “Shoop” and Whatta Man,” their 1993 album Very Necessary became a five-times-Platinum success, and the group ended up everywhere from Woodstock ’94 to Deadpool.

“Back then, touring was really hard for us,” says Cheryl “Salt” James. “We had young kids, and so the boys would be out on the road, they would tour for a whole year, Salt-N-Pepa, we would do, like, three months at a time. Now we’re touring, like mad.”

The group is currently making up for lost road time crossing Canada as part of the I Love the ’90s Tour alongside Kid N Play, Coolio, Kool Moe Dee, Tone Loc, Young MC and more. After an October run in the U.K., the tour will convene in January for the inaugural Ship-Hop Cruise, taking a nostalgia trip from Miami to Cozumel. It’s a fine time for them to look back, and Rolling Stone caught up with Salt, Sandra “Pepa” Denton and Deidra “Spinderella” Roper to find out the stories behind these trailblazing hits. 

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