“Shoop” by Salt-N-Pepa
It can likely be argued that Salt-N-Pepa were the first popular feminist rappers. They were pioneers not only in terms of being some of the first female hip-hoppers to embrace racy clothing but also dropping songs that were overtly and mainly about sex. And along with the likes of “Push It” (1987) and Let’s Talk About Sex (1991), “Shoop” is amongst said tracks.
In facts as far as ‘shooping’ goes, the vocalists are quite the aggressors in terms of getting what they want. For instance, in the first verse, while chillin’ with her niece and seeing a happening dude pass by, Pepa actually steps to him herself and “(asks) for the digits”, i.e. his phone number.
And she knows that, especially considering the era in which this track was dropped, that making such a move is not standard female behavior. So the rapper clarifies that doing so ‘does not make her a ho’, i.e. an overly-promiscuous or sexually-careless woman.
Rather, she has sexual desires just like the rest of us. Indeed she gets carried away fantasizing about doing it with this guy before coming back to her senses. And the idea the whole passage is meant to boil down to is that she finds him very attractive. And being that she is a mature, free-minded woman, that also means that she wouldn’t mind ‘shooping’ him.
And Salt continues along the established theme. In fact by the time she settles into her verse, it becomes pretty obvious that this song is primarily about admiring male bodies. She is a lot more overt in that regard than her bandmate, enjoying the fullness of the apple of her eye’s buttocks for instance.
And on top of biggin’ up his attractiveness she seems to be also, simply put, inviting him to bed. So like her music partner, she is not afraid to go after who she wants.
Pepa then interjects with a shorter third verse, explaining to the addressee that she is interested in sex, not love. And this is what we mean by Salt-N-Pepa being these sort of feminist pioneers. This is because even if an early-1990s female musician were to come and flat-out say she wanted a dude, expressing a desire to just have intercourse with him is on another level. It’s almost as if the pair were decades ahead their time.
Salt takes over again
Salt is then given her own additional, terse passage. Instead of focusing on one dude per se, this time around she points out different types of men she finds appealing, from the ones wearing “three-piece suit(s)” to the B-boys that like rockin’ “big jeans”.
Big Twan steps in
And a bit later on one such individual, portrayed by rapper Big Twan, adds his own two cents to the narrative. And what he does, in addition to bragging about the length of his manhood, is guarantee Salt-N-Pepa that if they want to take it there with him, he will grant them a good time.
So he is like their male counterpart in this equation – someone who also enjoys casual bedroom fun with women he finds attractive. His verse also serves the purpose of driving home the fact that this song is in fact sexual in nature, transcending the realm of mere physical attraction.
But that said, this being an early ‘90s female-led tune, their still aren’t any blunt references to sex organs or even sex acts per se, unlike similarly-themed tracks that ladies are dropping during the 2020s.
And before closing we would also like to point out that, according to Pepa, the verb “shoop” does not mean having sex per se. Rather it is “whatever you want to do”. So such a notion adds to the theory of this being a sort of empowerment song.
But as far as what the vocalists, male and female alike, want to do therein, that we already know. And when they refer to ‘shooping’, it is synonymous with their desire to have sex with someone they find appealing in that regard.
This track’s music video, as directed by Scott Kalvert (1964-2014), was filmed at Brooklyn’s Coney Island.
Facts about “Shoop”
This song is from what proved to be Salt-N-Pepa’s most-successful full-length, their fourth studio album, “Very Necessary” (1993). That project managed to go quintuple-platinum, and “Shoop”, its lead single, was a big part of that success.
For instance, the song charted in almost 20 nations, reaching number 13 on the UK Singles Chart and number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. And it topped Billboard’s Hot Rap Songs and Rhythmic listings, in addition to going gold in the US.
This tune was written by Salt (aka Cheryl James, the short one) and Mark Sparks. And they also co-wrote the song with Pepa (Sandra Denton) and Big Twan. Big Twan, a rapper from Harlem, is the male vocalist on the song, who we haven’t really heard from before or since.
There are three other tracks sampled onto this one. Foremost would reported by “I’m Blue” (1961) by The Ikettes. Then there’s a 1975 piece by an outfit called Tom Scott and The L.A. Express, an instrumental actually, entitled “Sneakin’ in the Back”. And lastly, some dude name Captain Sky dropped a track in 1978 entitled “Super Sporm” which the girls utilized.
Prior to this track Hurby Luv Bug, a classic producer from back in the day, regularly handled the production responsibilities for Salt-N-Pepa’s hits, such as “Push It” and “Shake Your Thang” (1988). However, he was not involved in the creation of “Shoop”. And it is speculated that such is why he was not fond of the song, reportedly even trying to block it from being the lead single from the aforementioned album.
The label behind this track is Next Plateau Entertainment, who at a time was a notable player in the world of hip-hop. And they released “Shoop” on the date of 21 September 1993.