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Live Review: Salt-N-Pepa Still Know How to "Push It" Good

(l-r) DJ Spinderella, Salt, & Pepa performing at Northalsted Market Days.
(Credit: Brooklyn Brown-Sater)

Last week, I was able to see a group I have admired since I was a child. Salt-N-Pepa headlined the second day of Chicago's LGBT street festival Northalsted Market Days. To say I have been a fan of the pioneering female hip hop group is putting it lightly. As a six year old, I was unknowingly being introduced to the philosophy of feminism and female empowerment as I sang along to Salt-N-Pepa's 1993 album Very Necessary. At a time when the largest representation of women in hip hop was relegated to sexual object in videos and lyrics, Salt-N-Pepa challenged the stereotype and gave a voice to a generation of women.

Sandra "Pepa" Denton races out to the crowd. (Credit: Brooklyn Brown-Sater)
Cheryl "Salt" James raising the roof. (Credit: Brooklyn Brown-Sater)

For almost 30 years Salt-N-Pepa - a trio made up of Cheryl "Salt" James, Sandra "Pepa" Denton, and DJ Deidra "Spinderella" Roper - have been empowering women in the music industry and throughout the world with their empowering, somewhat confronting, and sometimes controversial lyrics.  Recently gaining renewed popularity from their hilarious Geico commercial, Salt-N-Pepa are proving their staying power and reminding us that the subject matter of their songs is timeless, still relevant and important in today's culture.

Salt-N-Pepa educating the crowd with "Let's Talk About Sex." (Credit: Brooklyn Brown-Sater)

Upon taking the stage the ladies proclaimed to those in attendance that they were not at a concert as much as they were witnessing the "Salt-N-Pepa Experience."  Storming onto the stage, the group kicked off their set with "Do You Want Me" followed by "Shake Your Thang." The hits continued as the ladies educated the crowd with the safe sex anthem "Let's Talk About Sex" and the sensual "Whatta Man." The latter included Spinderella stepping away from the turntables to perform her solo rap, as well as a male audience members serving as backup dancers.

Salt-N-Peps performing "Whatta Man" (Credit: Brooklyn Brown-Sater)

Midway through their set, Salt and Pepa turned the focus to their beat keeper Dj Spinderella. Spinderella is probably the most well know female dj, partly due to her involvement with Salt N Pepa and mostly because she is a badass at the turntable.  While most djs focus on heavily remixed edm tracks, Spinderella's breakdown mixed old school and new school hip hop, present day pop hits, and classic rock. The mix was punctuated with Guns and Roses' "Sweet Child o'Mine," with Salt and Pepa singing along and encouraging crow participation.

Deidra "DJ Spinderella" Roper spinning beats. (Credit: Brooklyn Brown-Sater)

The trio ended their set with an electrifying version of one of their most popular songs "Shoop" before announcing that they had run over their allotted time. Whether factual or not, the girls left the stage whilst the audience booed security and begged for more.

Salt-N-Pepa performing "Shoop." (Credit: Brooklyn Brown-Sater)

 Spinderella returned to her turntables proclaiming, "Aw hell na! We can't go without one more." Both Salt and Pepa stormed back onto the stage with their dancers and busted into Beyonce's "Run The World (Girls)" before putting on their trademark leather jackets and breaking into "Push It" for the final encore.

Salt-N-Pepa performing "Push It." (Credit: Brooklyn Brown-Sater)

The Salt-N-Pepa "experience" is as enlightening as it is entertaining.  Onstage were three moms embodying their hip hop personas, dancing and rapping with the same vigor and intensity as their younger contemporaries such as Nikki Minaj or Iggy Azalea. Their music, mostly released in the late 80s and early 90s, still sounded fresh and was smartly accented with a few sample of today's hits. Salt-N-Pepa kept the crowd, a mixture of fans as young as primary schoolers to grandparents, dancing and cheering. They ended their set by thanking the fans old and new for their continued support. We thanked them with roars of applause and cheers... and hopes that they'll come back and rock us again.

The only disappointment, if you can call it that, was that the set did not include one of my favorites, the in-you-face female empowerment jam "None of Your Business." Maybe next time ladies.

(Credit: Brooklyn Brown-Sater)

(Credit: Brooklyn Brown-Sater)

(Credit: Brooklyn Brown-Sater)

(Credit: Brooklyn Brown-Sater)

(Credit: Brooklyn Brown-Sater)

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