Although most artists use the holidays to relax, Salt of rap trio Salt-n-Pepa kept busy, putting the finishing touches on her solo debut and tying the knot on Christmas Eve.
Salt of the Earth is the first new material from any member of Salt-n-Pepa since the group recorded four new tracks in 1999 for a U.K. best-of album. The disc is also the first release for the GavFam imprint, run by Salt and her husband, which will issue the record in April or May as a joint venture with Houston's Rap-a-Lot Records. It will be distributed by Virgin.
Produced by East Coast knob-twiddler Rockwilder (Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes), Salt of the Earth features guests Carl Thomas, Ideal, Jamaican dancehall artist Sean Paul and Angie Stone, who sings on the track "Where's the Love?" Other songs include "Sorry," "Let 'Em In," "Strobe Light" and "Letter to Pep."
According to Salt (born Cheryl James), the flavor of her solo debut might come as a shock to some Salt-n-Pepa fans. "It's not very Salt-n-Pepa-y," she said. "I guess it's more mature, more mellow. There's a lot of party songs on it, though, and a lot of relationship-oriented songs."
The rapper with a 14-year-old string of rhymes in her wake is quick to deflect presumptions that the album might sound dated. "It's hot, and everybody's surprised," she said. "They keep telling me that my flow's up to date, you know. I guess they thought I was gonna come back sounding ... old."
The future of Salt-n-Pepa remains uncertain, as bandmates Sandy "Pepa" Denton and De De "Spinderella" Roper are each exploring other avenues, including acting and possible solo projects of their own.
"I'm not even thinking that far," Salt said of another Salt-n-Pepa album. "I'm not even gonna stress my brain to think that far. If the opportunity comes about that's right and it can be a smooth thing, yeah sure. But for the moment, I'm concentrating on my own stuff."
And part of that, no doubt, includes focusing on her new state of matrimony. On December 24, Salt and longtime boyfriend Gavin Wray were wed at the couple's home in Melville, New York. Salt said the ceremony was so beautiful that "even [the groom's] hardcore friends cried."
The two, who have been romantically linked for more than a decade, have a 10-year-old daughter and an 18-month-old son together.