Before we go into this story we think we need to run down a few facts regarding the group Salt-n-Pepa: hailing from Queens, New York and founded in 1985, Salt-N-Pepa is the best selling female rap act of all time with 15 million albums sold to date.
“Hot, Cool & Vicious” went platinum, “A Salt with a Deadly Pepa” sold gold, “Blacks’ Magic” went platinum, “Very Necessary” went 5x platinum and “Brand New” almost went platinum with 700,000 sold. This was with a label in Red Ant that went bankrupt and could not even promote the album. How many groups could do that?
Salt-N-Pepa consists of Cheryl James-Wray (Salt), Sandra Denton (Pepa) and, depending on who you ask, Deidra “Dee Dee” Roper (Spinderella).
But enough about then, we caught up with Mrs. Wray aka Salt while she, Pep and their families were on vacation in beautiful Hawaii. We hated to interrupt her groove, but we need to get the lowdown on the upcoming Legends of Hip-Hop Tour that she and Pep are about to head out on come February 4th.
“I’m really excited about the tour,” Salt told our Lee Bailey. “We’ve been actually doing dates for the last year or so, but it’s been pretty sporadic, here and there, maybe twice a month. But it’s been doing so well that we’ve decided ‘Why not do this regularly for a while?’ Because we’ve been selling out everywhere we go. It’s been a lot of fun getting back together with a lot of my old homies like Whodini, Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick. We’re going back and reminiscing. It’s just one old school party. I like to call it the original school, not just old school.”
For a time it seemed as though Salt was sick of the game. In fact she had even alluded to such feelings on the VH1 reality-based “Salt-n-Pepa Show”. Now it appears as though Salt has a better appreciation for it all these days.
“It’s more fun to me because, of course, when you get older there’s a lot less misunderstandings and miscommunications on the road,” she explained. “You’ve matured and you’re more in control of your life. My husband is a part of management and he’s on the road with me. So, I’m not lonely. Sometimes I get to bring my children. It’s more fun to me because Hip-Hop today has taken a turn for … um … I would say the worse as far as musical content and what’s going on and the beats. It’s gotten pretty ugly. Back then, even though we weren’t saints, we had our issues. It was just a happier time in music. We bring that vibe back when we’re doing this concert. During the show there’s a segment where I say ‘How many parents brought their kids out to night?’ and a lot of people hold their kids’ hand up in the air. They’re bringing them to show what Hip-Hop started out as opposed to what it is now. Which is very, very cool. We have the young and we have all ranges in between that come to these shows.”
It cool to think that maybe some of the younger generation are gaining a better appreciation for that true school vibe, but how many of them are showing up because they were forced to as opposed to those that really want to learn? One can only guess, but Salt is confident that most are genuinely interested in the music.
“I’m not sure if all of them are coming with their parents or on their own,” said Mrs. Wray. “Since we did the Salt-n-Pepa show we’ve picked up a new audience, somewhat. A lot of younger people surprise me. They come up to us and they know who we are, they know our music. I think Salt-n-Pepa has been pretty timeless. We had our success over a very long period of time. We didn’t just come and go. So, our feel our music has definitely carried over into this generation.”]
For those that remember “Push It” was considered a hot and racy song. It even gained some condemnation from conservatives because the dance moves in the video appeared to mimic a sexual act. [Scroll down to watch the video.] With the advent of rap acts that are far racier how can a group that at one time relied on sex appeal continue to be relevant?
“I do feel relevant,” said Salt. “I was explaining to my daughter about icons. Not to toot my own horn but….toot, toot! I was telling her what icons are and what they represent. They represent eras in time and that cannot be erased or forgotten about because it was such a long period of time and such a string of hits. We can’t even do all of our songs in our time frame. People are always like ‘Why didn’t you do this song? Why didn’t you do that?’ When an artist is relevant and remains relevant I think it’s because they did something no other artist did. We are the first female rap group to win a Grammy, to go platinum, to gain international recognition. It wasn’t like some other artists where the audience just pushes them away. We left at the height of our career. I think that left an opening for us to be wanted again.”
And they’re back like spinal cords and ready to rock the mic, and rock the mic right. Salt has two children; a 19 year old girl in her second year of college and a 13 year old boy. We asked her whether he was aware of his mother’s music legacy.
“My son, I left the business when he was born actually,” Salt explained. “So he didn’t really grow up exposed to my legacy. For children the proof is in the pudding. You can tell them certain things but until they see it it’s not a reality. My son has always been proud and he has always known that some special perks come with being Salt’s son. He would use that since he was a little boy. As he’s gotten older we would take him on tour with us. We just went to Australia (Good Vibrations Festival) last year and we were doing these huge music festivals with 30,000 people and Salt-n-Pepa was the most anticipated group to come and he saw how we rocked that whole crowd. Now he’s just like ‘My Mom’s a freaking rock star!’ He sees the people that come out, they go crazy, they wanna take our pictures. So, he totally gets it now. Also, (recently) X-Box came out with a dance game and ‘Push It’ is on there. So, my two kids and Pep’s two kids were actually down there trying to learn the ‘Push It’ dance. Those are the things that make them realize we’re icons.”
Icons indeed. The Legends of Hip-Hop tour kicks off on February 4th and will feature some of your all-time Hip-Hop favorites like: Whodini, Big Daddy Kane, MC Lyte, Biz Markie, Naughty By Nature, Kurtis Blow and many others. This no rinky-dink tour either. The 20-city outing is scheduled to hit some big time arenas nationwide and will run from Feb 4th through April 9th. Log onto www.hiphoplegends.com for more information.