Second Spin: Salt-n-Pepa, “Shake Your Thang” b/w “Spinderella’s Not a Fella (But A Girl DJ)”

Artist: Salt-n-Pepa

Album: “Shake Your Thang” b/w “Spinderalla’s Not a Fella (But a Girl DJ)”

From: Vintage Vinyl’s 99 cent bin.

Year: 1988

Label: Next Plateau Records

What it sounds like: The all-girl, black version of the Beastie Boys.

Best Track: “Shake Your Thang.” This is the straight-up jam. It opens with an über-catchy piano riff backed by bongos and is quickly followed with a sample of the Isley Brothers’ classic “It’s Your Thing” with lots of “ow, shake it” and “get funky” thrown in for good measure.

The lyrics are flat-out awesome: “They call us nasty, said we dance dirty, claimed we were freaks, cheap, even flirty…Pepa got pissed and pulled out a pump I was all set to jet not to jump, Spin broke it up and asked not to break, said they don’t understand the way you…Shake yo’ thang…” Also love the late-‘80s hair reference with the line, “Friday night and I just got paid, I’m checkin’ out the fella with the high-top fade.” They just don’t make ‘em like this anymore.

Best Track Number 2: “Spinderella’s Not A Fella (But a Girl DJ).” This was the ultimate Beastie Boys-inspired joint, with each girl emphatically punctuating the other’s rhymes. Obviously, because it’s a song for their DJ, there’s was lots of action on the 1’s and 2’s, scratchin’ out the old school hip-hop rhythms. Samples of James Brown screeching “Ow,” “Yeah,” “Hey” and “Alright” add more spice.

Lyrically it’s a playful ode to Spinderella herself, with line’s like: “Listen to what I’m sayin on the mic/She’s hard as a man, too sexy for a dyke,” and my personal favorite, “Because it’s a girl don’t mean jack, if Jill tried to ill she’d get slapped.”

Worst Track: For the first time in Second Spin’s history there wasn’t one. Perhaps because there were only two songs on the album.

Who you can thank for the amazing cover art: Photography by Janette Beckman, Concept and Design by Jeff Faville

Interesting Facts: Via Wikipedia: Salt-n-Pepa, real names Cheryl James and Sandra Denton, formed in Queens in 1985. They were originally called Supernature but after their first single (which sampled the dance scene from Revenge of the Nerds), they changed their name. Latoya Hanson was the original Spinderella but when she left in 1986, Dee Dee Roper took up the title.

In 1987 they became the first female rap act to go platinum after selling more than a million copies of “Push It” a single from their album Hot, Cool, and Vicious. “Shake Your Thang” is from 1988’s Gold-selling album A Salt With a Deadly Pepa. They released Blacks’ Magic in 1990, which featured classics like “Let’s Talk About Sex” (Pepa was pregnant at the time), “I Don’t Know” (featuring Kid N Play), and “Independent.”

1993’s Very Necessary was its most successful (4X platinum) record, featuring the ultimate jams “Shoop” and “Whatta Man.” 1993 also saw the group perform at Wrestlemania XI (alongside luminaries like Razor Ramon, Lex Luger, Bret and Owen Hart, and, believe it or not, NFL linebacker Lawrence Taylor). Pepa also began dating and eventually married Treach from Naughty By Nature.

They were never as successful after ’93, releasing a couple unsuccessful new albums and ton of very successful greatest hits records. Salt went on to do some Christian rap, Pepa released a tell-all biography and Spinderella currently hosts an old school radio show on 100.3 FM in LA. They currently have a reality show on VH1 creatively titled The Salt-N-Pepa Show, which is in its second season.

For a video of “Shake Your Thang” go here (embedding disabled):

In the meantime, check out the ladies on The Arsenio Hall Show, circa 1990.

-- Keegan Hamilton

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