Salt-n-Pepa Are Back

In less ambiguous news, the veteran rap trio Salt-n-Pepa released a new album this week, the group's first in four years. They have their own label now, and some fresh perspective on their work, they say, which may explain the album's title, "Brand New." Abbie Kearse has the story.

SALT: We're back! Can you believe that Salt-n-Pepa is back again? You just cannot hold these chicks down.

PEPA: The other day somebody was like, "Dag, you been out here so long and you came back with another hot single."

MTV: That hot single is "R U Ready?" the first to be released from Salt-n-Pepa's latest, "Brand New." This album reflects their newfound creative control as they wrote and produced most of the new songs, saying good-bye to their longtime producer, Herby "Luv Bug" Azor.

ABBIE KEARSE: What's different about this time when you are behind the controls?

SALT: Well, I want to encourage women to start producing because I think a lot of women have been producing,

but they don't know what production is. And just because they are not working the drum machine doesn't mean that your not producing your own product.

MTV: It's been four years since the release of Salt-n-Pepa's last album, "Very Necessary," which sold over 3 million copies. Part of the reason for the lag in between albums was due to red tape and legal hassles in changing record labels and obtaining a new distribution deal.

SALT: Salt-n-Pepa have been in a position over the last three years where it looked hopeless to the outside world -- to a point where people thought we were buggin' as far as what we where trying to accomplish as to being with the label that saw our vision, being able to produce our own product in a non-female producing world. Just to tell people that faith can move mountains, all you have to do is hold on and be strong.

PEPA: We kept the faith, boy. We where like, "Nope, nope, nope." (They laugh)

MTV: Salt-n-Pepa have had a steady stream

of hit records over the last ten years, making them pretty much the most successful rap group still together today. Their hard earned experience has made them hip-hop mentors, a job Salt-n-Pepa take seriously.

SALT: When Tupac was in jail, I wrote to him about what I was doing, what I was dealing with, and what God was doing in my life. And I do feel that... I saw Left Eye the other day and she had a little look in her eye that looked a little sad and I gave her my number. If you want to talk about anything, music, whatever. And I think that if artists start doing that more, even Salt-n-Pepa have been doing that more with each other.

SPINDERELLA: We are only human. We go through the same things that any woman would go through, but there is a consciousness evolved, and we listen to that part.

SALT: And a little love and a little compliment and a little hug goes a long way.

SPINDERELLA: That's a good thing to be encouraged.

The "Brand New" album

features guest spots by Sheryl Crow and gospel star Kirk Franklin. Salt-n-Pepa say they'll promote it with a tour in the new year.