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Jewesses with Attitude

A Night With My Tween Icons: Salt-n-Pepa

I remember buying Salt-n- Pepa’s album Very Necessary in 1993. I must have been nine, and along with River of Dreams by Billy Joel, it was the soundtrack of my tween life (we can discuss my eclectic music taste in another blog post). I never could have imagined that eleven years later I would be in Boston’s City Hall Plaza listening to the epic Salt, Pepa, and Spinderella spout messages of female empowerment, the value of friendships, and staying true to you. 

It was a magical evening at the Phantom Gourmet Beach BBQ Party, and thanks to one of my highly connected friends, I ended up with two tickets. I grabbed a friend who enjoys meat, beer, and 90’s hip-hop as much as I did, and we ventured to the plaza.

The first thing I noticed was the crowd. Since Boston is one of the more segregated cities in America, it’s not often that you see folks from different racial and ethnic groups all in one place at one time. But the crowd was truly diverse, and there were a LOT of women there—groups of friends, women on dates, women who brought male friends or partners—and they weren’t just there for the delicious BBQ. They were there to hear the women who paved the way for Missy Elliott, Rihanna, and Nicki Minaj.

When Salt-n-Pepa entered the rap scene in the mid 80’s, feminists were decrying the musical genre for its objectification of women. Salt-n-Pepa turned the movement on its head by owning their sexuality—they showed it in their clothing and dance, and they rapped about it openly. “Let’s Talk About Sex”, an honest and fun song about safe sex, consent, and women’s role in sexual activity, was one of their most popular songs—I remember hearing it constantly on the radio while in the car with my parents and being COMPLETELY mortified.

As a tween, I don’t know that I fully grasped the messages Salt-n-Pepa were sending to women, particularly women of color, about their bodies and their sexuality. But on Friday, at their show, the message was received loud and clear. It wasn’t just a concert—Salt-n-Pepa were talking to their audience, discussing relationships, and encouraging everyone to love themselves and respect others. At one point, Pepa even said: 

“An authentic, real you is better than fake everybody elses.” And the crowd roared. Because we were so happy to be there, to hear their voices, and to know that our voices mattered to them. 

Salt-n-Pepa Very Necessary
Full image
Salt-n-Pepa's 1993 album "Very Necessary"

How to cite this page

Diamant, Emilia. "A Night With My Tween Icons: Salt-n-Pepa." 24 June 2014. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on August 23, 2014) <http://jwa.org/blog/night-with-my-tween-icons-salt-n-pepa>.

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