Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Salt-N-Pepa

  • Hot, Cool and Vicious [Next Plateau, 1986] A-
  • A Salt With a Deadly Pepa [Next Plateau, 1988] B
  • Blacks' Magic [Next Plateau, 1990] A-
  • Very Necessary [Next Plateau/London, 1993] ***
  • Brand New [London/Red Ant, 1997] Choice Cuts

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Hot, Cool and Vicious [Next Plateau, 1986]
In the updated "Tramp" (former A side of "Push It," bargain hunters), two gals dis an easy lay cum slave to his dick, but elsewhere the raps are only the gender change you'd hope, not the one you couldn't have imagined--feisty, not too reverse-macho, yet fairly predictable. What I love is how the sampled hooks and not-so-predictable scratches pounce out of the mix, always good for a shiver of recognition/dissociation. And the change is certainly due. A-

A Salt With a Deadly Pepa [Next Plateau, 1988]
"Shake Your Thang" is a stroke because as a duo they can come out for two opposing sexual prerogatives at once--one does, the other doesn't, and it's nobody's thang but hers either way. Nor does E.U. hurt their soul. Elsewhere, the confusion signalled by the "See label for Sequencing" is reflected in ordinary rhymes, scattershot beats, and a second Isleys cover, this one masquerading as a Beatles cover. B

Blacks' Magic [Next Plateau, 1990]
Though I wish these Hurby Luv Bug disciples were as gimmicky as their preceptor, the beats grab and the lyrics hold. They're too centered, too grounded to cop any attitude; some of their best moments are snatches of fabricated ordinary conversation, like the embarrassed 10-second should-we-or-shouldn't-we that leads into "Let's Talk About Sex" (some remixer should sample Salt's "C'mon, why not?" for everything it's worth). Their you-can't-dog-me threat doesn't sound like they want to turn around and dog him, though they may. They're "Independent" because they'd better be. A-

Very Necessary [Next Plateau/London, 1993]
they go their own way, they know whereof they speak, they sample Whitney's mama ("Shoop," "Whatta Man," "I've Got AIDS") ***

Brand New [London/Red Ant, 1997]
"I'm Ready (Remix)" Choice Cuts