If NWA and 2Pac are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, two hip-hop related oversights that need to be corrected posthaste are the omissions of LL Cool J and Salt -n- Pepa. The latter trio broke down barriers in music as well as pop culture, and even though they never released a definitive album (although they released several good ones), they made more than enough great singles to warrant induction, and they did so at a time when there was a very fine line to be walked between rap credibility and pop success.
“Get Up Everybody (Get Up)” was definitively not a pop success-it didn’t even crack the Billboard Hot 100. The second single from the ladies’ sophomore album A Salt With A Deadly Pepa, “Get Up” was aimed square at Salt -n- Pepa’s core hip-hop audience. Slower and more menacing than any hits they’d had up to that point, Sandy and Cheryl drop the overt sexuality of “Push It” or the cuteness of “Shake Your Thang” to drop battle rhymes. Granted, those rhymes were written by Hurby Azor, the guy who created the group (and who was Salt’s boyfriend at the time), but that’s beside the point. In the summer of ’88, the year of Follow The Leader, Nation of Millions, Strictly Business and at least half a dozen other hip-hop classics, the Queens from Queens proved they cold hold their own. Hearing Salt rap about rocking the microphone like a pit bull terrier (yes, but she’s scarier!) must have influenced a nascent Queen Latifah, Yo-Yo and every other aspiring femcee at the time-and probably a few of the guys, too!
I completely forgot that the video for “Get Up” is basically “Beat It” meets “Love Is A Battlefield” on a $1,500 budget. Totally worth watching if you’ve not seen it before–or even if you have.