Salt-N-Pepa to bring Legends of Hip-Hop to Newark

In 1985, they came across as ordinary young women — giddy, clever, enthusiastic, immediately identifiable.
On the microphone, they were trailblazers.
Salt-N-Pepa kicked down the doors of a male-dominated genre with high-heeled shoes. The first female rappers to earn an international reputation, they became feminist icons for their forthright songs about sex, relationships and self-determination. Cheryl "Salt" Wray and Sandra "Pepa" Denton were tart-tongued but they never had to demand respect from their peers. Their recordings spoke for themselves.
"We like to play things by ear," says Salt, 46. "But with everything that we do, we hope to empower women."
"At the same time," adds Pepa, 41, "we’re always going to party and have fun. We’ll always be pushing it and leaving you with something to remember."
During the ’80s, Salt-N-Pepa were often dismissed by fans of hardcore hip-hop as pop-rap hitmakers. But their singles, most of which were produced by hip-hop impresario Hurby "Luv Bug" Azor, have aged extremely well. "Push It," their first big hit, was an earthquake: here were two women rhyming about sexual desire in language as frank and provocative as that of their male peers. Its winding synthesizer riff remains one of pop’s most recognizable. The engaging "Let’s Talk About Sex" was adopted as an anthem by public health advocates and used in AIDS-awareness campaigns. "Whatta Man" and "Shoop" were crossover classics; the censor-baiting "None of Your Business," which won the act a Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance, was straight-up hard rhyme.
"Winning that Grammy was definitely the highlight of our career," says Salt. "But we’re proudest about being the first females in hip-hop to go platinum, get nominated for awards, have international success and do so many other things that no women in rap had done before."
"We’re proud to even be relevant so many years later," says Pepa, "and that people want to hear our music in 2011. ‘Let’s Talk About Sex,’ ‘Shoop,’ ‘Push It’ … those songs allowed us to travel the world: Hawaii, Australia, all over Europe."
This Sunday, they’ll be someplace a little less exotic: the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark. Deidra "Spinderella" Roper, their longtime DJ and current host of a popular radio show on Dallas’ KSOC-FM, won’t be there. Still, they’ll have some famous friends along with them. Salt-N-Pepa’s Legends of Hip-Hop Tour is a three-hour musical party and celebration of rap music, but it’s a history lesson, too. Kurtis Blow, the first rapper to earn a gold single — "The Breaks," in 1980 — is scheduled to perform, as is Kool Moe Dee, one-third of the Treacherous Three, whose still-fresh ’79 hit "Body Rock" was one of the first rap-rock crossovers. Big Daddy Kane, part of the Queens-based Juice Crew collective that challenged the Bronx’s rap dominance in the ’80s, was one of hip-hop’s first heartthrobs. A quarter-century after his debut single, Doug E. Fresh is still known as the Human Beatbox for his remarkable ability to mimic the sound of a drum kit with nothing but his own voice.
"We’re honored to be performing with Doug E. Fresh, and we’re so lucky to be able to hear him every night," says Pepa. "He was a legend before we were even a group. ‘The Showstopper,’ our first single — that was a response to Doug E.’s song ‘The Show.’ So we feel like he helped to start our career."
In an irony not lost on either of the rappers, Salt and Pepa will, again, be the only female voices onstage. Salt acknowledges that times have changed slowly, but she’s cautiously optimistic about the future of the culture and its accompanying style.
"Hip-hop started out as a braggadocious art form. It came from the streets. It was masculine, and misogynistic. Lots of female artists weren’t even given a chance. It’s still hard to be heard, but I think there’s a lot more room for female artists now than there used to be."
There has been no new music from Salt-N-Pepa since "Brand New" in 1997. That’s about to change. Buoyed by the Legends tour and a popular reality television series, "The Salt-n-Pepa Show," the act is back in the studio, working on new material.
"We’re trying things, getting our feet wet," says Pepa. "We’re excited that people want to hear from us. We’re going to do what we always do: keep it real to wherever we are, and whatever we’re doing."

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Lion Dream Records

is an independent label created by an artist to better produce and promote other artists. With the lack of publishers to help talented local artists to broadcast their music, it was important that some one take the first step and lead the way to a new generartion of self made artists.

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