For many years Salt-N-Pepa were considered a trio, but somewhere along the line they removed their oft forgotten third member, DJ Spinderella. We take a look at where she is now, and what lead to her eventually suing her former bandmates.
Upon hearing the name “Salt-N-Pepa”, you’d be forgiven for thinking the band behind legendary tracks like ‘Push It’, ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’ and ‘Shoop’ were simply a duo – one member named Salt and one named Pepa.
However, all it takes is just one look at any album cover from the hip hop group’s iconic discography and you will quickly see an all-female trio brandishing the front of every project with a distinct style that is effortlessly cool and timeless.
The third member of the Grammy-award winning group is DJ Spinderella (Deidra Roper), an often forgotten yet crucial member to the trio. She paved the way for multiple female DJs today and has also had her hand in producing and acting.
Check out Salt-N-Pepa’s clip for ‘Push It’:
Joining Salt-N-Pepa at just 16 years old in 1987, Spinderella produced several songs for the group across five studio albums. She replaced the first DJ for the group, Latoya Hanson, who appears on the album cover for Hot, Cool & Vicious, but was not around long enough to appear in any music videos (that role was granted to Spinderella.)
Roper was with the group for over 30 years total, attending reunion tours and Vegas residencies until 2019 when new drama began to surface, ultimately leading to Spinderella suing her former bandmates – but why exactly did this happen, and where is the DJ now?
Check out Arsenio Hall interview Salt-N-Pepa:
Let’s take it back to 2018, (which feels like a lifetime ago now), when New Kids on the Block had just announced a brand-new tour called The Mixtape Tour to celebrate three decades in the music biz. The tour was scheduled to feature support from Salt-N-Pepa as the perfect 90s nostalgia draw card. See NKOTB and one of the most legendary pioneering female groups in hip hop in one night? Insane value for money and a guaranteed good time.
Fast forward to May 2nd 2019, U.S. Bank Arena, Cincinnati, Ohio when the debut show was scheduled to occur, and the entire night was a major success. However, DJ Spinderella was noticeably absent from the performances, despite being advertised as an artist slated to appear.
The following day, a message appeared from DJ Spinderella on her Instagram, stating that the artist had received a letter of termination from her fellow bandmates. Essentially, Spinderella had been kicked out of the group, and the trio had swiftly become a duo. The iconic DJ was to be excluded from all future performances with the group, in a blow that quickly shifted the dynamics of one of the most prolific groups of the 90s.
You can read her full statement explaining the situation below:
Turns out Spinderella was planning to sue her former friends over money disputes, which ultimately caused the fallout to occur. After some time, the federal lawsuit rolled out against Cheryl James (Salt) and Sandra Denton (Pepa).
Spinderella claimed that she helped launch the group to the success that they shared today as an essential third member of the group, not just some hired DJ. She claimed that when the band went on hiatus in the 1990s, she continued to promote and support the bands image and name during the silence.
She then claimed that when rumours of a compilation album were dropped in the early 2000s, she was promised a sum of $125,000 that never came her way. Alongside this were claims of minimal compensation from The Salt-N-Pepa Show on VH1, from which she was rightfully promised a third of the profits. US$600,000 in owed payment was demanded from Spinderella.
Later on, there were added claims that payments from the Las Vegas residency rarely came on time and were constantly chased up by Spinderella and her team. Eventually Spinderella refused to work for a lower pay rate than her peers, which is when Salt and Pepa’s lawyers issued her with a letter of termination before the NKOTB tour.
Check out an interview on Spinderella’s lawsuit against Salt-N-Pepa:
In August, a judge rejected DJ Spinderella’s requests for immediate relief against former bandmates Salt-N-Pepa over alleged unpaid royalties, and the case was moved to mediation.
Billboard reported reactions from Salt-N-Pepa to the mediation ruling. In a statement the group said:
“We are grateful for the judge’s ruling as Salt-N-Pepa have been extremely generous to Spinderella over many decades and attempted to settle what amounts to a divorce, both peacefully and without rancour. Unfortunately, Spin and her legal team adopted a scorched earth approach that brought unnecessary attention to a business dispute that all along could have, and should have, been settled amicably and privately.”
The details of the mediation remained completely confidential and silent.
Check out Spinderella interviewed on Oprah’s OWN Network:
These days, Spinderella is starting to make television appearances again and is doing live DJ gigs. While the trauma and backlash of being removed from what she believed to be her group of sisters still comes up in her brand new interviews, it is clear that she is slowly starting to move on as 2020 rolls out.
She also has a young son who she posts about often on Instagram, and is starting to pave her own path away from the shadow of Salt-N-Pepa.
In our eyes, the legendary rap trio behind some of our favourite dance tracks will always remain a trio. DJ Spinderella produced some of the most era-defining tracks of the 90s and helped push the image of one of the worlds first all-female rap groups into superstardom.
While it is a shame that money came between the members of Salt-N-Pepa, we will always have the amazing memories from their time as an unstoppable force in music. Their hits will live on forever and will always have a place on many an RnB Fridays night. Now, let’s talk about sex.