MLK Jr. Concerts: Public Enemy with Salt N Pepa
Public Enemy rewrote the rules of hip-hop, becoming the most influential and controversial rap groups of all time. Public Enemy pioneered a variation of rap that was revolutionary. With his powerful, authoritative baritone, co-founder Chuck D rhymed about all kinds of social problems, particularly those plaguing the Black community, often condoning revolutionary tactics and social activism. In the process, he directed hip-hop toward an explicitly self-aware, Pro-Black consciousness. Musically, Public Enemy were just as revolutionary, creating dense soundscapes that relied on avant-garde cut-and-paste techniques, unrecognizable samples, piercing sirens, relentless beats, and deep funk. It was chaotic and invigorating music, made all the more intoxicating by Chuck D’s forceful vocals and the absurdist raps of his comic foil Flavor Flav. Today, Public Enemy celebrates the twentieth anniversary of their classic, influential album Fear of a Black Planet.
Salt-N-Pepa were the first all-female rap crew, emerging in the late 1980s with “Show Stopper,” an answer to Dougie Fresh’s smash hit, “The Show.” They weren’t just the first, Salt-N-Pepa were pioneers who showed the industry that women were more than just window dressing or a gimmick. Cheryl James (Salt) and Sandy Denton (Pepa), established a standard with their string of hits, including “Push It,” “Shake Your Thang,” “Shoop,” and “Whatta Man,” and a social responsibility that paved the way for the likes of TLC, En Vogue, and others.
Who wasn’t down with “O.P.P.” in the early ’90s? Even those who weren’t born when Naughty By Nature stormed out of East Orange, NJ onto the world stage know their songs. “O.P.P,” “Hip-Hop Hooray,” “Uptown Anthem,” and “Feel Me Flow” helped shape the beginning of a unified Hip-Hop Nation.
Selling over 4 million albums combined, they received a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album, an American Music Award for Best New Rap Group and a Source Award for New Artist of the Year. Treach, Vin Rock and DJ Kay Gee’s most recent single is “Get to Know Me Better.”