Salt-n-Pepa Play Greatest Hits On Tour

Pioneering hip-hop trio deliver singles, spunky dance moves and plenty of attitude, but no new music.

LOS ANGELES -- Fans may be wondering why Salt-n-Pepa launched a 40-date

North American tour last month without an album or single to push.

MC Cheryl "Salt" James offered an answer onstage at the House of Blues

here Friday.

"It's very hard to be out on the road missing your family," a pregnant

and gleaming Salt said. "But coming up onstage and seeing you makes it

all worth it. ... Salt-n-Pepa has been in this rap game for 13 years,

but we never would have lasted without you."

The pioneering hip-hop trio's "Greatest Hits" tour finds Salt, fellow

rapper Sandy "Pepa" Denton and DJ Dee Dee "Spindarella" Roper delivering

a string of hit singles along with spunky dance choreography and plenty

of assertive, pro-girl attitude. Often accompanied by four dancers --

two male and two female -- they conjured a feel-good, festive vibe as

they rapped, danced and scratched their way through a crowd-pleasing,

one-hour set.

"I just have one thing to say -- empowering, enlightening, inspiring,"

Nicole Choice, 25, said after the show. Choice said she has been a fan

since Salt-n-Pepa's 1988 breakthrough hit, "Push It," but had not seen

the band live before Friday.

"They kept the crowd pumping," said another fan, Tarfaya Coleman, 25.

"My only [wish] is that they'd play a little longer."

Salt-n-Pepa and their dancers emerged in bright-yellow outfits and kicked off the show

with a crowd-riling version of

HREF="http://www.sonicnet.com/artists/clip.cgi?track=%7Eaa-

XXXXXX%2F0012372_0102_00_0002.ra&x=2&y=3">"Push It" (RealAudio

excerpt). After the last chorus, the music briefly segued into

"Shake Your Thang" (RealAudio excerpt) before giving way to another dance number.

The show hinged on medleys of that sort, though Spindarella's turntable

talents were allowed time in the spotlight, too. While Salt and Pepa

took a mid-set break to change clothes, Spindarella stood behind her two

turntables and rocked the house.

Guest rapper Rufus Blaq, who took a moment during the show to plug his

next album, Redemption, challenged Spindarella to mimic vocal

patterns he made on the mic. She confidently spun them back at him.

Not strictly a spinner, Spindarella came down from her turntables for

the show's second half to sing and dance with her bandmates.

For the hit "Whatta Man" (RealAudio excerpt), they each serenaded a male fan picked from the

crowd. "Ladies, we're gonna treat these men like fish," Salt told the

crowd. "Either we keep them or we throw them back."

"This song is dedicated to all the men out there who have jobs," she

continued as the group moved into the song, which they recorded with R&B

group En Vogue for Salt-n-Pepa's 1993 album, Very Necessary.

Salt-n-Pepa have been on the road since March 9. They're now winding down toward

final dates in Texas, where they'll close things down at the Spy Nightclub in Dallas on

Saturday. They'll pop up again April 30 for a performance at the Music Midtown festival

in Atlanta.

Salt-n-Pepa were one of the first all-female rap crews and the first to have a significant

pop impact. The threesome won the 1995 Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a

Duo or Group for "None of Your Business."

"I've seen them every tour since the one in 1988 with Heavy D. and the Boyz, and they're

still putting on great shows," fan Belinda Thomas said.

"When you watch this show it's just like hit after hit," said Doug Green, 25. "In the greater

scheme of things, Salt-n-Pepa are really a big damn deal, and I think it's cool that they're

willing, after taking a break, to come back and kinda pay tribute to their own past."