At a time when hip-hop music was shunned by mainstream radio, Salt-n-Pepa broke through in 1986 with their multi-platinum crossover debut, Hot, Cool and Vicious. Along with Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys, Salt-n-Pepa were among the first hip-hop groups to be heard on a wide scale outside American urban centers during the mid-1980s. The Queens, New York-based Salt-n-Pepa also were the first all-female hip-hop group to gain commercial success in a genre dominated by men, opening doors for such female hip-hop artists like MC Lyte, Yo-Yo, Foxy Brown, Lil' Kim, Lauryn Hill, Lady of Rage, Missy Elliot, Queen Latifah, Bahamadia, Heather B, and others. Further, in a genre where the life of a hip-hop career is about one year, Salt-n-Pepa persevered, continued to have hits, and were still active well into the late 1990s.
Formed in 1985 under the name Super Nature, Cheryl "Salt" James, Sandy "Pepa" Denton, and their Sears department store coworker turned producer Hurby "Luv Bug" Azor released a minor hit called "The Show Stoppa," an answer record to the Doug E. Fresh hit, "The Show." Super Nature's song reached number 46 on the Billboard R&B singles chart, making enough of a name for the group to perform in local New York clubs. The women changed the group's name to Salt-n-Pepa and added a DJ named Spinderella (Pamela Greene, who was later replaced by Deidre "Dee Dee" Roper). Salt-n-Pepa signed to the independent hip-hop label Next Plateau and released Hot, Cool and Vicious in 1986. The album sold successfully with a number of singles doing well on the R&B charts, but it was not until a remix of "Push It" was released in 1988 that Salt-n-Pepa were launched into the mainstream of pop music.