Salt-N-Pepa On Why It’s ‘Good To See’ Women Become CEOs Of Their Music

Hip-hop has come a long way since Salt-N-Pepa served as the first successful women in the art form. Now as the music genre celebrates its 50th anniversary, the pioneering femcees are celebrating today’s women of hip-hop.

Since their 1985 arrival, Cheryl James and Sandra Denton, better known by their stage names Salt and Pepa, have reached international success and fanfare. With two back-to-back certified gold albums, Grammy awards, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and being hailed as ” the First Ladies of Rap,” Salt-N-Pepa is well deserving of the G.O.A.T. status.

While chart-topping records, global stardom, and brand deals have become the norm for emerging women in hip-hop, that wasn’t the case when the “Push It” rappers arrived. But seeing the rise of rap acts like Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, and Nicki Minaj makes James and Denton beam with pride at the lane they paved.

“We didn’t have as much control over our business,” James told AfroTech.

“That model has changed. There’s way more opportunity for women to really be the CEO of their music, of their careers, and that’s really good to see.”

Stories of shady contracts, no royalties, and music publishing were all the norm in the early days of hip-hop. Many Black music pioneers served as unfortunate examples of what not to do when signing a record deal.

It’s something the women of Salt-N-Pepa know all too well when they were forced to go “through it” before learning how to demand their worth when working with major companies.

“I think a lot of these women and artists today, hats off to you, you can talk about it and be like, ‘Oh, you got to check your royalties, and what you’re worth, what you’re selling, and ask these questions,'” Denton said. “I think, in our case, just going through it and being able to stomp it out, paying attention, and moving through that thing, is what really taught us the nature of this business.”

Now, looking back at their careers and how they shaped and directed hip-hop culture for women, the “Shoop”” rappers are proud of the representation they provided the next generation.

“I think what we represent, we stand by empowering women and uplifting women, learning the ways ourselves, and giving back,” Denton said.

“I think it’s important to have that representation to make sure that product represents you as well as what they’re representing for themselves.”

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