HBCU Writers's Project
For Immediate Release
November 30, 2009
Contact Information

Della Spearman
Interdenominational Theological Center

(BPRW) Salt-N-Pepa Ushered in an '80s New Flava

(BLACK PR WIRE/ITC-ATLANTA) – It was a music promoter's dream and females sometimes pushed the limit. The artist roster included names such as Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Lionel Richie, Hall & Oates, Prince, the Deele, Debbie Gibson, Madonna, Run DMC, and Will Smith, to name a few. The decade? The '80s music scene. Now considered a classic music period filled with songs reflecting the different hearts of the audience: rhythm and blues, pop, rock and emerging hip-hop voices, to name a few. Some of the artists are still rocking on tours. Others are retired and no longer interested in traveling, rehearsals, singing and songwriting. The stage no longer holds the key to their staying power and presence.

Where are they and what has become of their music? Particularly, since the whims of the ever-changing public keep blowing in the wind. Some Atlanta-based teens were not even born during this period, but they not only speak for themselves but for their parents - since tastes are now running cross-generational. According to Hakim Shabazz, 18, "LL Cool J was my favorite artist because his songs were real and sometimes humorous, but with a moral."

Martez Jackson, 16, had a different favorite. "I think that Boyz II Men were one of the better bands of the late 1980's because their music was professional and had soul." Jackson was somewhat serious for his age group, but some classic '80s music artists are making a bold statement by no longer being a record company's profit-machine with dangling promotion and products. They have their own labels or release music independently online.

In addition, they acknowledge it is more difficult to compete. The buying taste of the public has changed with technology. People used to buy albums and cassettes. Now they download and buy CDs. There are My Space pages, Facebook and Twitter - all part of social media now used for promotion. But others see music still as a cultural phenomenon, which outlines and outlives certain paradigm shifts. Who are the buying public and which group seemed to have the greatest influence and audience push?

The answer may lie with an all-girl group. It was the female buying public across the United States that pushed this unknown New York-based group into national notoriety. Bold, daring, and assuming with their freedom anthems, they changed the face of hip-hop.

Between classes, two former Queensboro Community College nursing students, Cheryl James (Salt) and Sandra Denton (Pepa), with their producer moved forward without the luxury of big record company machinery. Herby (Hurby Luv Bug) Azor worked with the daunting duo in Queens, NY at a Sears store. He had a media project in art school which featured the two students; he got an "A" and the rest is history.

Following stops at Pop Art Records and Next Plateau, Salt-N-Pepa used spices in "Showstopper" to create their stage name and tight bouncy lyrics with a heavy beat for dance hits on Billboard such as "Push It." The latter song remixed by a San Diego radio station created a new audience and the duo and Spinderella charged forward as a trio of sorts. Their album Hot, Cool & Vicious was a million seller in 1986. The songs "My Mic Sound Nice" and "Tramp" created an urban and national following, which was reflected in the Billboard Top 50 chart in a male-dominated industry.

There were two Spinderellas. The first was disc jockey Dee Dee Roper. The hit "Whatta Man" recorded by Salt-N-Pepa and En Vogue in 1993 was a remake of a 1968 song by Linda Lyndell on Volt Records. It was on the Billboard Hot 100. "‘Whatta Man’ still has a fresh sound. It describes every woman's idea of a great man. The lyrics make sense and the song flows," said an unidentified Atlanta teen.

Artists Gun Hill still get excited about '80s music. A spokesperson said, "The '80s was all over the place! And that included music too, of course. I was influenced by rock artists and dance artists and rhythm and blues artists as well as rap artists. Obviously, Run DMC and ‘Walk This Way’ was a huge step for hip-hop music. Other artists that were very influential (include): Public Enemy, Big Daddy Kane, Heavy D, Kool Moe Dee, LL Cool J, Salt-N-Pepa, Queen Latifah, and The Beastie Boys. Actually, the '80s and early '90s was when some of the most exciting hip-hop music was being made."

A Hardrush Records representative stated they were influenced in the 1980s by "Kiss, Bon Jovi, Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits, Boston, too many - now none of these are R & B. The closest I come (to R & B favorites are): Earth Wind & Fire, KC & The Sunshine Band." Although technology has changed, there is still a market for buying the classics. "CDs still sell but labels are putting rock bottom prices so artists get minimal dollars. Downloads are very significant for those updating their collections as they age." The classics from the '80s can be purchased from these websites: www.earwaxonline.com, www.itunes.com, www.hardrushmusic.com, www.amazon.com, and www.rhapsody.com.

There are always votes for different recording artists. Alysia Lee, 17, said, "I believe Michael Jackson was one of the most influential artists in the 1980's because his Thriller album was an album that you could listen to straight through. It was consistent and flowing." The 1980s was a period of upheaval and changes. But the artists have a special place in the buying public's heart. "They were important because they were making passionate music that came from the heart...and we feel that is the most important element in making music," said Gun Hill.

Who was your favorite? Do they influence you as classic recording artists or is their voice just a passing memory? Only time and your music collection will reveal. Remember, Salt-N-Pepa pushed the limit.