Five Best Songs From Salt-N-Pepa’s ‘Blacks’ Magic’ Album
You'd be hard-pressed to find a female rap group as accomplished as Salt-N-Pepa. Consisting of Queens, N.Y.-bred MCs Salt and Pepa, as well as Brooklyn born DJ Spinderella, the trio etched their names in the annals of the culture's history with their bevy of hits, influential fashion sense and their around-the-way girl steez.
The group released five albums throughout their career, striking platinum in 1986, with their first LP, Hot, Cool & Vicious. Unfortunately, they suffered a minor setback after their sophomore release, A Salt With a Deadly Pepa, when it was met with mixed reviews since some critics feared their music was becoming a bit contrived.
Taking note of the whispers, Salt-N-Pepa went back in the studio, creating a career-defining album with their 1990 release, Black's Magic, released on March 19, 1990. The project fell in line with the socially-conscious tone that was dominant in rap at the time, from the songs down to the album cover. The latter featured images of legendary African-American musicians such as Jimi Hendrix, Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong as a display of black pride and their "magic." The album was also the first in which Salt-N-Pepa wrote a majority of the material on their own and would be their last with producer and group founder, Herbie "Luv Bug" Azor, who would leave the fold following the album for creative and personal differences.
Blacks' Magic would solidify Salt-N-Pepa's place in the game, spawning hits such as "You Showed Me" and the Grammy-nominated cut "Let's Talk About Sex" -- which was revamped by the group for an AIDS campaign -- and go on to be considered a certified classic. Now that 25 years have passed since its release, we choose the best tracks from the project that stand the test and helped make the album the landmark release that it was. Check out Five Best Songs From Salt-N-Pepa's Blacks' Magic Album.
Salt-N-Pepa move the proceedings to the dance floor with the funky selection, "I Like to Party." Produced by Herbie Luv Bug, the drum-heavy track is a perfect match for the call-and-response style hook and Salt and Pepa's park-jam ready vocals.
"We're stepping on the case, watch your face / Don't like the bass then leave the place / It's ladies night, yeah, we hype / Heels, shirt, tights and a mic," Salt-N-Pepa rap, giving the fellas a mental visual of their fly outfits. They also announce their intentions to rock the shindig with their rhyme skills.
The group addresses racial discrimination and calls for the African-American community to stand firm with pride on the uptempo number, "Negro Wit' an Ego." "Here we go, yo, I'm a negro with an ego / So don't tell me what I'm doing is illegal / No, I resort to violence only when provoked / Contrary to rumors, I ain't no joke," they deliver. The ladies prove they are far more than cuties in spandex bodysuits and jackets and provides words with substance.
They also display some lyrical dexterity with studious lines like, "I'm not a militant / but I'm equivalent to an activist / All I'm asking is chill among all / I don't care if they're big or tall, short or tall / We've got to stand or fall... ain't that right, y'all?" between urging listeners to "put some faith" in their race.
Entertaining and galvanizing the people in one fell swoop, the two MCs from Queens deliver a banger with a message, which has been a strong component in their artistry and sets them apart from the pack.
These women wear the pants in their relationships with the aptly titled, "Independent." After having to cut off their no-good men, the dynamic duo let them know what they'll be missing and sound empowered doing so. "I'm getting ready for the year 2000 / Independent, yes, I'm housing / Independent, yeah, now watch me / Independent, no one can stop me," they rhyme with plenty of confidence and vigor. The Herbie Luv Bug-produced beat contains a sample of the Honey Drippers' "Impeach the President" and wins with its crisp kicks and snares, making for a head-bopping ditty when married with Salt and Pepa's rhymes.
Art imitates life on the Blacks' Magic cut, "Do You Want Me," which centers around women questioning the intentions of their male companions. Group member Salt, who was romantically involved with group founder Herbie "Luv Bug" Azor, had her own doubts about their relationship and put her feelings in song form, resulting in an epic battle of the sexes. Herbie Luv Bug gets in on the action with a little hook work and well-placed dialogue throughout the song, while Salt goes for dolo, delivering two potent verses of her dishing it out to her real-life beau. "Get to know each other, be my friend not just my lover / Share your thoughts with me, love my mind, not just my body, baby," Salt rhymes, drawing a lyrical line in the sand that Azor would continue to cross, causing the demise of their romantic and musical relationship.
"Expression," the opening track on the album, is an uptempo offering that showcases everything there is to love about Salt-N-Pepa. The title alone is a testament to the group's message of self-love, independence and other feminist ideals. Salt sets it off with an impressive first verse. "Now, Joe wanna be like Bob, Bob got it going on with no job / And everything Rob got he got from Robin / And everything she got she got hoe-hopping / My girl Jilly wanna be like Jackie / Four gold chains, I think that it's wacky / Tom and Dick wanna be like Harry / Little do they know, he's biting on Barry," she raps, making for one of the more intricate rhyme schemes on the entire album.
Salt then passes the mic duties to her partner Pepa, who drops a few solid bars of her own. "It's the Pep and there ain't nobody / Like my body, yes, I'm somebody / Though I'm sorry, I'ma rock this Mardi Gras until the party ends / Friends," she serves, before they go back-and-forth on the third verse and slaying with their undeniable chemistry.
Other tracks may be more recognizable to the average ear and get placement in high-profile commercials, but die-hard fans regard "Expression" as one of the best cuts in Salt-N-Pepa's discography. This track gets The Boombox's stamp of approval twenty-five years after its release.