Despite being a groundbreaking group in the history of rap music, Salt-N-Pepa still doesn't really get their dues. From the get-go, the group was almost immediately successful. “Push It, were” and Salt-N-Pepa’s subsequent hits paved the way for literally every single female rapper that came after, and that’s because the trio was so adept at blending various styles. Their mic skills ensured that they could hang with any of their contemporaries, but beyond their technical expertise, the group mixed pop and rap music in a way that rappers copied over and over. Check out some of the group’s biggest moments in their long career below.
1. “Push It” and going platinum on the first try
And to think, “Push It” as we know it almost wasn’t a thing. The group didn’t include their breakout single on their debut album, Hot, Cool & Vicious. Instead, “Push It” was relegated as a B-side to “Tramp,” their first single. It wasn’t until San Francisco DJ Cameron Paul remixed the iconic single that it took off towards the top of the charts. Salt-N-Pepa’s label reacted to the success of the single by reissuing Hot, Cool & Vicious with the “Push It” remix on the tracklisting. The single helped the album go platinum, the first female rap album in history to do so.
2. The release of Very Necessary
While “Push It” and Hot, Cool & Vicious were the start of something big, Salt-N-Pepa really hit paydirt again in 1994 when they released their opus Very Necessary. The album remains the best-selling record by a female rap group and solidified Salt-N-Pepa’s penchant for penning hit records (that still hold up today) as well as their ability to push against rap’s hyper-masculine, accepted norms. Very Necessary was one of those rare records by an ‘80s act that made a huge splash in the ‘90s, a decade that wasn’t always amenable to the more happy-go-lucky rap from the Golden Era.
3. The 1994 VMA medley performance
By 1994, Salt-N-Pepa were at the top of their game, and the 1994 MTV Video Music Awards gave the trio a stage to show off a medley of some of their biggest songs, and it was almost like MTV was making up for lost time. The network hadn’t even nominated the group in the prior years and in ‘94, Salt-N-Pepa were one of the biggest winners. They took home Moonmen for Best R&B Video, Best Dance Video and Best Choreography in a Video. They got a chance to show off that choreography during a four-song medley where you realize just how difficult it is to rap and dance at the same time.
4. The first female rappers to win a Grammy
Along with their Moonmen, Very Necessary saw the group win their first Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group for “None of Your Business,” another first for female rappers.
5. The 2016 VH1 Hip-Hop Honors
It’s weird to think that VH1 of all channels has turned into a channel that carries some type of torch when it comes to rap music. Well, the trashy, reality tv torch of rap music, to be exact. But they also have the “Hip-Hop Honors” show that recognizes trailblazers in rap music who probably got little to no recognition in their heyday. That wasn’t necessarily the case with Salt-N-Pepa who, of course, received plenty of kudos in the ‘90s but the show still celebrated the trio by lining up a solid medley performed by Eve, Ashanti, Keke Palmer, and Dreezy.
6. The Geico commercial
The key to the internet and pop culture success is a lot easier to discover than people realize: Nostalgia, even if it doesn’t quite make sense. Indeed, not making sense might even work in your favor and it worked for Geico and Salt-N-Pepa as the creative insurance company simply pasted the group’s song on a commercial and linked it to saving money by switching to Geico. A commercial may not be a big moment per se, but this sh*t was everywhere, so it counts for something.
7. The MTV Movie Awards Deadpool presentation
And in another instance of Salt-N-Pepa’s music reemerging in the 2010’s, the group’s “Shoop” enjoyed renewed popularity due to its use in the hit Marvel movie “Deadpool.” Wade Wilson and “Shoop” go together surprisingly well, and MTV picked up on this as Salt-N-Pepa awarded Ryan Reynolds a Golden Popcorn at the 2016 MTV Movie Awards.
Salt-N-Pepa headline the I Love The 90’s Tour, which stops at the Microsoft Theater on Friday, March 10. Find ticket information here.