Tuesday, December 8, 2020

"Push It" by Salt-N-Pepa

Platinum Record Alert!
Rated 10 Alert!
Song#:  3341
Date:  11/21/1987
Debut:  76
Peak:  19
Weeks:  25
Genre:  Rap

Pop Bits:  New Yorkers Cheryl James and Sandra Denton were nursing students who earned money working at Sears. It seemed they had their career paths set, but then one of their Sears co-workers (and boyfriend of James), Hurby "Luv Bug" Azor ended up altering their lives forever. Azor was a music production student who needed some vocals done on one of his class projects. He asked James and Denton to join him in the studio and the three collaborated on a track titled "The Show Stoppa (Is Stupid Fresh)." They released the song under the name Super Nature on a small indie label in 1985 and it started to get some airplay around New York. It did well enough to crack the R&B chart and get to #46. With that success, the three chose to pursue music full-time and develop an act. Azor decided to add a DJ alongside James and Denton and hired on Latoya Hanson. The trio were then renamed Salt-N-Pepa and they signed on with New Plateau Entertainment. Work began on an album with Azor writing/producing the bulk of the tracks. The LP, titled Hot, Cool & Vicious, was released late in '86. Not long after its release, Hanson was replaced by teenager Deidra Roper, aka DJ Spinderella. The album got a little bit of attention with its first two singles, "My Mic Sounds Nice" and "Tramp," peaking at #41 and #21 on the R&B chart, respectively. However, it would be a b-side track that would prove to be the breakthrough for the trio. "Push It" appeared it its original form on the b-side to the 12" single of "Tramp," but on the 7" single a remix version was used. That remix started to turn some ears and it quickly became obvious that the tune had potential. Although it wasn't on the trio's debut album, the "Push It" remix was issued out as a single late in '87. It reached #28 at R&B and #18 Dance. It then crossed over to the Pop chart where it slowly caught on. The track would eventually crack the Top 20. It would end up being a platinum seller, a first for a female rap act. As the song was shaping up to be a hit, Hot, Cool & Vicious (still with Hanson pictured on the cover) was reissued with the "Push It" remix and the remix versions of two other tracks. The hit helped send the album to #7 R&B and #26 Pop. It would end up going platinum, which like the single was a first for a female rap act. "Push It" would also earn them a Grammy nod for Best Rap Performance.

ReduxReview:  This track was just cool as shit back in the day. The beat and the "ahh, push it" grabbed your attention and after that the song was loaded with hooks galore along with a rap that everyone had memorized. From what I've read, Salt-N-Pepa considered this a toss-away track that didn't show off their skills. Therefore, it got pushed to the b-side of a single. Oh how they were wrong. The remix of this tune had just the right elements to catch on in a mainstream way. Rap was still slowly breaking through to a larger audience at the time and still trying to prove it was here to stay and not a fad. It was tracks like "Push It" that helped rap gain another foothold in popularity and acceptance. It really should have gone Top 10 at Pop - really #1 - but not all Pop stations were on board with rap yet. I certainly didn't hear it on our local stations so like a lot of folks (platinum sales), I bought the single. I loved it then and I think I appreciate it even more these days. Classic.


Trivia:  Double Shot!  1) When James and Denton released their first single, it seemed that their name, Super Nature, was not catching on or getting remembered. Apparently, when folks would call in to NYC radio stations to request "The Show Stoppa," they would ask for the song by Salt and Pepa. That stemmed from a line in the song that stated "Right now I'm gonna show you how it's supposed to be, 'cause we, the Salt and Pepa MCs." That name statement stuck in listener's minds more than Super Nature, so when it came time for the debut album, they rechristened themselves Salt-N-Pepa.  2) When "Push It" was originally released, Azor was solely credited as the composer. These days another composer is also listed, Ray Davies (of The Kinks). Davies was later added as composer because a line in the track uses lyrics from a Kinks hit that Davies wrote. Salt-N-Pepa rap "Boy you really got me goin', you got me so I don't know what I'm doin'" near the end of the song. If you replace "boy" with "girl," that is the opening lyric to The Kinks' 1964 #7 hit "You Really Got Me." It seems some legal wrangling took place and the result was the added credit and, most likely, some financial settlement.  3) The famous whispered "ahh, push it" in the track was a sped up sample taken from the song "Keep on Pushin'" by the funk/rock group Coalkitchen. It appeared on their 1977 album Thirsty or Not...Choose Your Flavor. The Illinois band formed in the early 70s and signed on with Full Moon/Epic Records a few years later. Their debut album came and went to little notice and they broke up. However, the "ahh, push it" sample from their song still lives on with Salt-N-Pepa's hit.


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