Everyone, who ever came up in the eighties, remembers Push it. The single that launched three young women, not only into the popular music world, but into the world of hip hop at a time when hip hop was on the precipice of music domination (though it would be at least another decade before main stream music was taken over by rap entirely). Cherly James (Salt) , Sandra Denton (Pepa), and Deidra Roper (Spinderella). We had women on the mic and the turntables.
This choice, for me, is a bit difficult. All three women have discussed the difficulties they endured with their label and business manager. The executives wanted to control them, their sound, and their image. And in the beginning, I believe that happened. However, these women struggled against this and fought for power over their music. And won. So I put them here for multiple reasons.
First, this is an all girl rap troupe. Yes, there was Queen Latifah, Monie Love, and MC Lyte before them. But, with exception of the Queen none of the women in rap made it main stream and sustained that position.
Second, they promoted individuality, self empowerment, and independence. In their music, their image, and their lives. They believed in the strength of women and urged us to embrace ourselves and to enrich ourselves. They encouraged us to use our voices and make good choices despite, or perhaps because of, their own struggle inside the music machine.
And, finally, their struggle which they didn’t really share publicly until later in their lives. But, in the back ground there were romantic strife, band conflict, and struggles to maintain independence within the record company. Throughout it all they maintained their relationship, gained personal growth, and had an amazing career.
Salt n’ Pepa told us to shake our thing without shame and without judgment. What we wear and how we choose to use our bodies to express the beat rolling through our ears is perfectly acceptable and no one had the right to tell these ladies how to grind.
They also had their own version of Madonna’s express yourself theme. S n’ P, though, were more focused on being and individual and not following others or what’s trendy. It was about embracing who you are and being proud of yourself. And it is a worthy message for any young woman or man.
And, of course, their lady anthem It Ain’t Nothing but a She Thang which touted the strength and possibilities of being a woman.