Salt-N-Pepa

Very Necessary

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Salt-N-Pepa exhibited a lot of growth on Blacks' Magic (1990), their third album and, by far, best to date. For their follow-up, Very Necessary, released a long three and a half years later, in 1993, the ladies delivered a fairly similar album. Like its predecessor, Very Necessary boasts a pair of major hits ("Whatta Man," "Shoop") and a lot of fine album tracks. Also like Blacks' Magic, Very Necessary is filled with strong, prideful rhetoric: femininity, sex, relationships, romance, respect, love -- these are the key topics, and they're a world apart from those of the gangsta rap that was so popular circa 1993. And as always, the productions are dance-oriented, with a contemporary R&B edge. Most tracks were produced by Hurby "Luvbug" Azor, though Salt is credited on a few, chief among them "Shoop." Very Necessary is just as impressive as Blacks' Magic, if not more so. The key difference is, Blacks' Magic was a striking leap forward for Salt-N-Pepa, who were somewhat of a novelty act up to that point, whereas Very Necessary is a consolidation of everything that had worked so well for the duo previously. Hence the lack of surprises here. Still, the raised expectations don't change the fact that Very Necessary is one of the standout -- and, for sure, one of the most refreshingly unique -- rap albums of its era.

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