DJ Spinderella from Salt-N-Pepa returns to Tulsa to spin the classics
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Deidra “Dee Dee” Roper, AKA DJ Spinderella, is not only one third of Salt-N-Pepa, the group responsible for “Push It,” “Let’s Talk About Sex,” and “Whatta Man”—she’s also the first female DJ to break through the rap industry’s male-dominated barriers and make it big. Spin auditioned for the Salt-N-Pepa DJ spot at the age of 16 and now, at the age of 47, has no plans of stopping.
Spin will return to Tulsa with Salt-N-Pepa May 11 at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino as part of the I Love the 90s Tour. Other acts include Vanilla Ice, Rob Base, and Young MC.
Mary Noble: I read that you play different music depending on what part of the US you’re in. Do you remember what got Tulsa going the last time you were here?
Spinderella: Well, for the show they want the classics, so we do a little rock infused with that hip-hop, and for the most part everyone loves everything, from Michael Jackson to Cindy Lauper, House of Pain. It’s really poppin’, and musically I kind of touch all the classics. Nirvana—it’s wide open.
Noble: What was your favorite find in your crate-digging days?
Spin: I’ve got one of my favorite songs right in front of me—the Bee Gees’ “You Stepped Into My Life.” I like the groovy stuff. I like stuff that’s melodic and groovy. I can’t say I have a favorite, but I have a few. I like The Illmatic Collection, the De La Soul collection, A Tribe Called Quest. These are classic songs that were the samples to your favorite songs. So I got all of this stuff and forgot I had it. I liked to dig. I mean, that was all we did as DJ[s]. We wouldn’t go online and download—we would go to the store, and it was an experience.
Noble: You have a record produced by Pete Rock and Marley Marl with Busta Rhymes on it. You’ve said you don’t plan on releasing it, but has that changed?
Spin: Oh, shit, no, it hasn’t changed. I still have that stuff. I did an album, recorded it back in ‘94, and, you know, it was pretty bomb. I had some good stuff on it. There’s no plan to release it. I’ve played it a couple times in my set and people don’t know who it is.
Noble: Your daughter, Deejayed, performed at Coachella. How does it feel to have her follow in your footsteps?
Spin: Oh my god, there’s nothing greater than that. That’s all I wanted, for her to be able to pick up where I leave off. Even though I’m not leaving off anytime soon, it’s a really great feeling. She’s a bomb DJ, too.
Noble: I read that the two of you fuse your styles—could you elaborate on that?
Spin: Of course she’s [into] more of the modern-day, you know, the younger music—she’s into all that as well as the old school. So sometimes we’ll do a set together, and she’ll play her stuff, I’ll play mine, and we’ll go back and forth sometimes. Kind of that new-school against old-school type of thing. She tells me what’s going on when I’m not knowing what’s happening. She’ll ask me if she’s doing a party that caters to more old-school. She’ll go, “Mom, what was really hot during this time, what was this track?” So, we kind of help each other.
Noble: As someone who loves both old- and new-school, I would love to see a set with the two of you.
Spin: Yeah, we have to make that happen. We’ve even talked about hitting the road with that. Every so often we will come out to each other’s events and rock.
Noble: What are some aspects of the evolution of hip-hop that you’ve enjoyed or maybe grown to accept, and what are some aspects that you may not like so much?
Spin: Well, I have to say, hip-hop has branched off into all different types of directions, and I’m proud to say that—but you know that’s a tough one. Some of the stuff I can’t really do, I’ll be honest with you, but I connect with more the groovy type of hip-hop. I like Travis Scott, Drake, you know, because they make you feel their music. I love how they import that groove. There’s some aspects of it I could do without—the more derogatory, you know, insulting hip-hop.
Noble: You got your start in the rap industry at the age of 16. Who looked out for you most, had your back?
Spin: There’s no question—a manager by the name of J.P. Edmund. When I first started I was so young, and he was Hurby’s partner, so we had Hurby “Luv Bug,” who was our creator, music producer, manager, everything. J.P. had the responsibility of making sure I had a curfew after the shows and that I would be safe in my hotel, away from the chaos of the road. My parents kind of put him onboard to make sure that was the case. Him and Salt was like Mom and Dad on the road. He was responsible for making sure I was good, that I got my diploma with my class, that I followed the rules. Being on the road when you’re young, if you had no one watching over you, you would just be a wild one. Trust me, I wanted to get out so bad, but I had to follow the rules.
Noble: If you could give your 16-year-old self some advice, what would it be?
Spin: Probably enjoy the ride that’s coming, ‘cause it was work for me and there was a lot of things I missed out [on]. A lot of places we visited, I was so homesick. I was so young and didn’t really realize what I was embarking on. Being in a major group, traveling the world, I didn’t take advantage of a lot of things. So if I was able to do something different, I would’ve really let go and enjoyed those moments. We visited everywhere from Japan to Switzerland, Germany. I would say to myself, “Enjoy the ride—each step of it, enjoy it.”
Noble: I’ve seen some social justice posts on your Twitter—how do you stay positive and find peace in such a polarized climate?
Spin: It infuriates me just like it infuriates any human being. I feel like we live in a time when we should be beyond that. We shouldn’t be going backwards. We should be moving ahead. It bothers me every so often. I really feel that pain, literal pain. I cannot say it doesn’t exist with me. I just move ahead, deal with people accordingly. You show respect to me, I show respect to you. You show love to me, I show love to you. If you got a problem with me—and I’ve encountered that, for sure, because of my skin color—then that’s your problem, not mine. I’m not going to let the negative people take me out of who I am. You just have to move in light, regardless of all that.