“Put your hands in the air, wave them like you just don’t care” is the refrain uttered at every hip-hop concert you’ve ever attended, right?
Salt-N-Pepa repeated that bromide several times Wednesday in front of the most hand-wavingest, most smilingest crowd ever seen at the Minnesota Zoo’s Weesner Family Amphitheater.
For a too-brief one hour, these old-school rappers turned the zoo’s amphitheater into a giant dance party – like something these fans might have witnessed at college or a bat mitzvah back in the ‘80s or ‘90s when Salt-N-Pepa seasoned the airwaves.
Who knew that old-school hip-hop would be such a hit at the zoo?
The full house of men and women – actually mostly women – sang along so vociferously that DJ Spinderella (Deidra Roper) didn’t even need to spin the discs with the backup vocals. The crowd was hyped but so were Salt (Cheryl James) and Pepa (Sandra Denton).
These girls just know how to have fun, whether doing goofy and delightfully dated skits, dancing together and with two male dancers, and bringing fans onstage to party with them. These rappers were so unpretentious and eager to entertain that they even had DJ Spinderella add snippets of such rock classics as Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child o’ Mine” (which became a massive sing-along), Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” (with Salt doing the perfect 1990s long-hair swing), a couple of Michael Jackson tunes, Mark Ronson's current oldies-influenced “Uptown Funk” and, of course, Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”
Salt-N-Pepa even covered TLC’s “No Scrubs” and DMX’s “Party Up,” among other tunes. While those numbers were fun, theydidn’t disguise the fact that Salt-N-Pepa have a limited repertoire.
But you couldn’t argue with the musical minimalism and liquid bass lines of such smashes as “Let’s Talk About Sex” and “Whatta Man” (with male fans dancing onstage) and the one-two knockout punch of the closing “Shoop” (which mentions Prince) and “Push It,” for which the duo donned their signature jackets featured in the current Geico commercial.
When there was no encore, some of the fans booed briefly. But how can you complain about one of the most riotously entertaining hip-hop shows seen in years?