David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Day 327: Salt-N-Pepa (None Of Your Business)

February 17, 2024

I stopped watching the Grammy Awards years ago.  Too many awards given to the safe artists and not enough to the edgy artists. That doesn't mean I don't get sucked in by some of the post-show clips and stories, especially since social media and news outlets will flood my feed with lures. The 2024 Grammys appeared to be a referendum on female pop if I go by the clips I have seen: Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Tracy Chapman (what decade am I in?) all showcased, with even Jay-Z using his moment in the spotlight to rant about the industry's snubs toward his wife, Beyoncé.

It seems an interesting, direct or indirect, commentary for a society where women, post the reversal of Roe v. Wade, seem more under attack than ever. Are pro-feminist anthems all the rage?  I have heard Cyrus's "Flowers" once or twice and would say it owes more to Gloria Gaynor than Gloria Steinem. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but a little further down the Feminism scale.

It just feels like women in the music business should take advantage of their global stage. We need some female artist to cover and release her version of Salt-N-Pepa's "None Of Your Business." Can't you hear (and see) that song being done by Miley Cyrus? Talk about bringing the anger back. 

Or, maybe what we need is a superstar lineup so that "none of your business" is being shouted by Miley, Taylor, and Beyoncé, Taylor playing the role of Salt, Miley playing the role of Pepa, and Beyoncé, confirming Jay-Z's perception that she is underappreciated, playing the role of Spinderella. Can't Taylor breathe even more venom into Salt's proclamation to "hold your tongue tightly/wish you could be like me" (sung from the suite at the Super Bowl)? Wouldn't Miley really nail Pepa's line "'cause I refuse to be played like a penny cent trick deck of cards?" while pushing Liam Hemsworth away with her tattooed-covered arm? (I hate that I know so much about these celebrities!) Then we'd have Beyoncé spinning Spinderella's "I know exactly what you say when I turn and walk away/but that's o.k. 'cause I don't let it get to me," before Jay-Z jumps in for her defense.

We just need more of that girl-chorus collective scream of "none of your business!" We just need some iconic lines in the public psyche again. "How many rules am I to break/before you understand/that your double-standards/don't mean nothing to me?" is as anthemic as a line can be. The time-true observation that "opinions are like a@@holes/everybody's got one" is even more apt in 2024.

The beauty of the lyrics overall is that they go after both men and women for the judgement calls. It is in Pepa's section that she goes most after the catty women, the "Miss Thing" with a touch of materialism ("if you don't like him or his friends/what about that Benz"), the women who have "humped and dumped." And between you and me, Pepa, out of the three women in Salt-N-Pepa, is the one I'd least want mad at me. Wouldn't you say the same thing about Miley? Those lyrics seem especially accurate spewing equally from hers and Pepa's mouths. 

All of this goes into why a retrospective look 20-years later at the song said, "what makes Salt-N-Pepa so bold is that they independently chose to flip the script. They behaved like they were as empowered as the male rappers."1 

I passionately believe what I write here, and then I discover that "None Of Your Business" was written entirely by a man, Cheryl (Salt) James' boyfriend, and Salt-N-Pepa's producer at the time, Hurby "Luvbug" Azor. (You got to love Hip Hop names: "Luvbug?" Of course, when Wikipedia claims he also goes by "Fingerprints," "Luvbug" should be preferred.) Should I allow this knowledge to disappoint me so? Part of me liked "None Of Your Business" because the all-female band threw around the very derogatory terms men use about women: Hos, tramps, bitches, freaks. But, damn, did these three smart women not feel empowered enough to write these lyrics, or something similar? At least Helen Reddy got co-writing credits for "I Am Woman."

Lovebug as writer, not Salt, or Pepa, or Spinderella is just depressing, and not just because that sentence sounds like a reference to a Pixar movie. Nevertheless, by mentioning my disappointment, I suppose I would deserve their feverish response of "none of your business!" I will quietly go away.

Salt-N-Pepa. "None Of Your Business." Very Necessary. London, 1993. Link here.

Wikipedia footnote. Sarah Oakes. "Why Salt-N-Pepa Were 20 Years Ahead Of Their Time."  Dailylife.com (April 6, 2015). Original link dead. Wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/None_of_Your_Business#cite_note-8  Retrieved 2.15.24

Day 326: Squeeze "Cool For Cats"

Day 328: Jona Lewie "Stop The Cavalry"

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