1990, Music

Blacks’ Magic (1990) by Salt n Pepa

Contrary to what I thought, Salt n Pepa are a manufactured group, just TLC is (which I didn’t know either, at the time). They’re like proto TLC albeit with their own DJ. (That’s a joke.) Not knowing much about the state of Hip Hop in 1990, it still feels to me more authentic than “manufactured” implies. Some of that could be just my familiarity with the group’s hits from when I was kid, but some of that is just to their credit.

For some reason I have a hard time getting over the idea that some rappers’ lyrics are written for them. I’ve encountered this at least a few times now, but it still kind of blows my mind. I don’t know why I find it completely normal for a singer to sing someone else’s words but, when it comes to rap, I can’t get over it. It must have to do with how personal rap lyrics feel. It’s hard to believe they’re not written by the rapper. (And they usually are.)  I think of “Swift” and I think “How did she not write this?” It’s an impressive performance and when they’re delivered as well as they are here (to the best of my knowledge) I just can’t get over that the producer wrote them.
That sort of embodies my whole feeling about this album: so much of this is at least credited to Fingerprints but he and they have done a good job of selling its as the trio’s work.

And that’s why I can’t hate this as much as so many people seem to. I think they do a good job of selling it. If I didn’t know better (and have access to the album credits) I would have thought this was mostly made by the trio with some guest appearances and dialogue from some guys.

It’s dated pretty horribly – it seems to have been made just before some of these ’80s production cliches were dropped for new sounds – but at least the rapping feels more recent than a lot of hip hop albums from the ’80s. But it feels authentic enough that I can’t claim it’s bad.


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