Reel Reviews | Salt-N-Pepa

By Charles Kirkland Jr.
The story of the groundbreaking, innovative, and simply the most successful female rap duo of all time is brought to light in the Lifetime original movie, Salt-N-Pepa.

Nursing student Cheryl James (G.G. Townson) is doing well at school and as a recruiter for the telephone sales department at Sears in New York but her boyfriend, Hurby Azor (Cleveland Berto) has a dream. Hurby believes that he can make a rap group with his girl. The savvy producer soon realizes that his voice is not right. He needs another girl. When Hurby finds Sandra Denton in the Sears pool, he is struck with inspiration and the magical rap duo of Salt-N-Pepa was born.

Salt-N-Pepa is written by Abdul Williams, a veteran of the musical biopic having done The New Edition Story and The Bobby Brown Story and directed by Mario Van Peebles. It stars Townson, Odom, and Berto with Jermel Howard, Monique Paul, Arnold Pinnock, and Mario Van Peebles. Queen Latifah, Steve Solomos, and Shakim Compere serve as producers for the film with both Salt and Pepa and Hurby “The Love Bug” as executive producers.

For anyone who is a fan of Salt-N-Pepa, this film is a fantastically fun look back at the origin of the group. For fans of hip-hop, this film chronicles not only the beginning of Salt-N-Pepa but the rise of them through the emerging rap culture of the ’80s. The most fun is to see the other rap notables Kid and Play (also produced by Hurby), LL Cool J, MC Hammer, Dougie Fresh, and even Prince Markie Dee of the Fat Boys. This film documents their encounters and their acceptance into the world of hip-hop from the men who had almost dominated the field prior to their arrival. The coolest cameo is the introduction of a brand-new comedian who came through the same neighborhood, Martin Lawrence.

Being that Salt, Pepa, and Hurby were all producers of the film, there are many things brought to life that may not have been known about the relationship between Cheryl and Sandra yet there is also the feeling that some of the story has been a little sanitized for the audience. Both Cheryl’s problem with weight and food and Sandra’s abusive relationship with Treach from Naughty By Nature seem to be glossed over and absent of the intensity and consequence.

The casting for the movie is quite interesting. Townson and Odom are reasonably close in appearance to the originals and even Berto takes on the essence of Hurby. However, the actors for the ancillary characters (Hammer, Lawrence, etc.) leave a lot to be desired, for instance, Monique Paul looks nothing like Spinderella. There has been some controversy about the third member of the group Salt-N-Pepa,
Spinderella. In the movie, Spin’s role is very small and th

The casting for the movie is quite interesting. Townson and Odom are reasonably close in appearance to the originals and even Berto takes on the essence of Hurby. However, the actors for the ancillary characters (Hammer, Lawrence, etc.) leave a lot to be desired, for instance, Monique Paul looks nothing like Spinderella.

There has been some controversy about the third member of the group Salt-N-Pepa, Spinderella. In the movie, Spin’s role is very small and the real Spinderella has publicly come out saying that she will not support the movie because of her “scrubbing” from the film. Honestly, though, the film is truly about the relationship between Cheryl and Sandy and not as much about the group so it could be understood why there were only tidbits in the movie about Spinderella.

Rated TV-14 for some language, Salt-N-Pepa is a funky fresh look back at the style and substance of hip-hop group that defined and redefined female rap for more than a decade. For those who know the story, enjoy the music and the flashback. For those who want to know, prepare to have some fun!

Grade: B-

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