On Wednesday, February 15, 2012, Spinderella – the Grammy Award–winning DJ, producer, rapper and writer – appeared in the Museum's Foster Theater for a live interview and DJ demo performance. Over the course of an hour-long interview with Director of Education Jason Hanley, Spinderella talked about her career, influences and more.
As a true hip-hop pioneer, Spinderella rocked the turntables as a member of Salt-n-Pepa, the iconic female rap group that would sell more than 15 million albums and singles worldwide. Her career started before she even finished high school.
"I didn't set out to be a DJ," said Spinderella, recalling how her first interest in music came from poring over her father's vinyl collection. "I was in high school. I was in the cafeteria, going to lunch, and a young lady just came up to me and was like, 'Would you want to DJ for a girl group?'" At that time, Spinderella aka Dee Dee Roper was still new to DJing, learning a few tricks from her high school boyfriend, who she accompanied on gigs. Soon, she began spinning on her own.
"Everyone had heard about me DJing – and that was a very rare thing back then – there were like four females," said Spinderella. "I had actually never seen a woman DJ before." Her cafeteria exchange led to an audition with Salt-n-Pepa. The classmate that approached her was connected to hip hop producer and Salt-n-Pepa manager Hurby Azor, who was attempting to create a female version of Run D.M.C. Salt-n-Pepa had begun to establish themselves, having recorded "Showstopper," and they were eager to release the debut album they had just recorded with another female DJ at the turntables. Dee Dee arrived at Azor's studio, where he and Salt were there to scrutinize her audition. "[The audition] was very nerve-racking," said Spinderella. "I was working on breaks at that time – I was DJing break beats, that's how I learned. My high school boyfriend had helped me to prepare a set. I just brought some vinyl in a bag, and basically they were like 'Show me what you got. Let me see it.'" And she did. A few hours after her audition, Spinderella got the call: she got the gig.
Still in the eleventh grade and 16 years old, Spinderella hit the road with Salt-n-Pepa, though with her parents' blessing and a promise to take her homework on the road. Two weeks after she joined the group, "Push It" became a hit, and Spinderella appeared in the video. "That's when it really started to hit. Salt-n-Pepa really was starting to grow like wildfire. 'Push It' was the one song that kind of catapulted us."
"Females in rap at that time were rare, and on the level that we were growing to, we were like a phenom," said Spinderella. "We were just going with it. What we did as the group was we just stopped worrying about what people thought and really just kept growing, kept focusing on what we were doing."
In this clip, Spinderella demonstrates one of the earliest routines she developed for Salt-n-Pepa.