The Salt-N-Pepa story premiered Saturday, January 23, 2021 on Lifetime, and the highly anticipated film gave an inside look at the lives of the iconic music duo and their struggles from the gritty streets of New York City to Hip-Hop’s glamorous center stage. There were some things left out, which might leave viewers asking questions. We look into the Salt-N-Pepa movie exclusions.
When you think of Cheryl “Salt” James and Sandra “Pepa” Denton, you probably think of two, sassy MCs who changed the rap game for women… forever. From “Push It” and “Whatta Man” to “Let’s Talk About Sex” and “None of Your Business,” the ladies, along with their legendary DJ, Deidra “Spinderella” Roper, took over the eighties and nineties, hit after hit.
They walked so the female rappers today could run. So, if you ask us, it was well overdue for the world to have the opportunity to flip through the pages of the “First Ladies of Hip-Hop’s” life stories. However, although the Salt-N-Pepa story did go in-depth, there were still some key details that we’re sure you’re interested in knowing that wasn’t mentioned on-screen.
Let’s start with the obvious, the real background of Salt-N-Pepa.
From College Students to Platinum Artists
Although in the film, Salt’s character, portrayed by G.G. Townson, interacts with her family a couple of times, her upbringing is sort of a mystery.
Cheryl Renee James was born in Brooklyn, New York. She was the middle child of a transit worker and banker, Barbara James. In 1983, James graduated from Grover Cleveland High School and later enrolled at Queensborough Community College to study nursing.
As for Pepa, portrayed by Laila Odom, her mother is seen as well as a sister or two. The film also mentions the passing of her father quite a few times, but they failed to show that she actually had a good amount of siblings and had not too long before just moved back to Queens.
Sandra Jacqueline Denton was born in Kingston, Jamaica. She was the youngest of Charles and Enid Denton’s eight children. Up until she was six years old, Denton was raised on a farm in Jamaica with her grandmother before joining her family in Queens, New York; her family left three years prior. As a youngster, she was known as the bubble one who’d always loved to perform. When she was fifteen, she spent a year in Utah with her older sister, where she became a lover of rock music.
Later returning to Queens and finishing up her high school career at Springfield Gardens High School, Denton then decided to attend Queensborough Community College and also took up nursing.
As seen during the first segment of the biopic, James and Denton did really meet while going to the same college, and Denton eventually got on at James’ job at Sears.
The Group’s Name and the History Behind It
Contrary to popular belief, according to Salt-N-Pepa’s Wikipedia page, they were actually named “Super Nature” when they first started out. The biopic doesn’t really share that and, instead, immediately coins them as Salt-N-Pepa. They reportedly adopted that name after signing to Next Plateau Records (now Entertainment). It is said that fans began calling into radio stations and requesting “The Show Stoppa by Salt-N-Pepa” due to their line in the song: “Right now I’m gonna show you how it’s supposed to be ’cause we the Salt and Pepa MCs.”
Who Was Hurby “Luv Bug” Azor… Exactly?!
Although the film did credit Azor as a producer, it didn’t really delve into his musical background much.
Hurby “Luv Bug” Azor, also known as “Fingerprints,” is a prolific musician and producer born in Port-de-Paix, Haiti.
At the time of Salt-N-Pepa’s making, Azor, then Salt’s boyfriend, was studying record production when he asked James and Denton, as shown at the opening of the movie, to record a song for his class project.
After working behind the scenes with Salt-N-Pepa and serving as one of the key elements to their development, Azor furthered his career and has since gone on to produce for other artists, including Dana Dane, Sweet Tee, and Kwamé, among others.
He is currently 56 years old.
For whatever reason, Hurby Azor’s brother in the film is played by the same actor that plays Hurby, Cleveland Berto. As far as we know however Hurby’s brother is Steve Azor and the two are not twins, definitely not identical twins. We were able to find Steve on social media…
Steve is a producer in the industry as well and has credits on several Salt-N-Pepa songs as well. The casting decision was one of many puzzling decisions in this film.
The Storyline Cut of Spinderella
The Lifetime production’s introduction to “Spinderella” first came in the form of the group’s first DJ, Latoya Hanson. After getting into a brawl over a fake Salt-N-Pepa concert scam, Azor suggests rebranding the group and bringing in a DJ.
Though having appeared on Salt-N-Pepa’s debut album cover, Hot, Cool & Vicious, it wasn’t long before Hanson was dropped. Too many missed rehearsals gave Azor no other choice but to search for a replacement.
That’s when he brought in 15-year-old Deidra Roper who’d learned how to deejay from a boyfriend, at the time, a year prior and was there to take on the Spinderella name.
After sticking with the group through most of their successes, Roper was often referred to as a third member and even built a brand for her Spinderella moniker. Whenever you’d see Salt-N-Pepa, you knew that ‘Spin’ wasn’t too far behind.
That is depicted in the biopic; however, Roper’s character is more so pushed to the back with James and Denton’s characters being the focus.
Because of that, Roper isn’t too pleased.
Although Salt-N-Pepa has been promoting the biopic movie online to fans and expressing their hard work and dedication towards production, DJ Spinderella went on Twitter to express feeling left out of the production and development.
Sorry but I gotta speak on this Lifetime special.., Too often, Black women who have made meaningful contributions in their industry are left out of historical narratives.
— Spinderella (@Spindeezy) January 22, 2021
She continued to tweet, “Back when Salt n’ Pepa was building our legacy, which is rooted in empowering women, I could not have dreamed that this same group would one day disempower me. Words cannot fully express my disappointment when I learned a decision was made to move forward with a Lifetime biopic that wrongfully excluded me from every aspect of development and production… all the while using my image throughout, given that I played an integral role in the group’s story and success.”
Not too long ago, it was announced that Roper had filed a lawsuit against the pair after being kicked out of the group. Since then, she’s been very vocal about the unfairness she feels has taken place.
As for Latoya Hanson, not many current details are available for her.
Arsenio Hall Interview Scene
There is a scene in the biopic that shows the ladies being interviewed by Arsenio Hall to talk about their image and “Let’s Talk About Aids” campaign. Roper is present; however, she doesn’t get much speaking time, which is not exactly how the real interview went.
While visiting Hall, the ladies all seemed to be promoting themselves as a trio, which makes it more understandable why Roper feels as if she was “left out” out of the biopic’s plot.
The Real Deal About Pepa’s Son’s Father
At one point in the film, Pepa is portrayed to be dating a guy named “Don Don,” and she ends up getting pregnant by him. After discovering that she was with child, Pepa breaks the news to him, and it is indicated that he wants nothing to do with Pepa or his unborn son. The indication strengthens when Pepa (played by Laila Odom) mentions that he didn’t even show up to the hospital on the day she gave birth.
Throughout the raising of their little boy, Tyran, Pepa’s new man, Naughty by Nature member Treach, sort of steps up to the plate and becomes a father figure to her baby boy.
However, in real life, Pepa assures that her son’s father is actually a great dad to him and “all is love.” Ever wondered who he is? Well, despite the film renaming him “Don Don,” his name is Tyran “Tata” Moore, and he’s a New York-bred rapper.
During the film’s premiere, Pepa shared a photo with him on her Twitter page.
All love with Tyran’s dad pic.twitter.com/NvnmqSFSEp
— Pepa (@DaRealPepa) January 24, 2021
It’s great to know that the two are on good terms.
Salt-N-Pepa’s Life Outside of Music
Though the movie primarily focuses on Salt-N-Pepa’s musical endeavors, they didn’t bother to mention that Pepa opened her own clothing store, HollyHood, in Atlanta’s prestigious Buckhood community back in 1995.
When the lights were off and the mics were unplugged, Salt was dealing with bulimia, which is “an emotional eating disorder involving distortion of body image and an obsessive desire to lose weight, in which bouts of extreme overeating are followed by depression and self-induced vomiting, purging, or fasting.”
Pepa, too, has dealt with her share of mental health, as she opened up about that in her 2008 novel, Let’s Talk About Pep.
What was your favorite part of the Salt-N-Pepa biopic? Let us know in the comments!
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