Over the years, hip-hop has proven itself to be a music genre that's both layered and legitimate. The groundbreaking sound provided a voice to underserved communities that were—and still are—often ignored, while simultaneously keeping women on the sidelines. At least, until female rappers like Salt-N-Pepa carved out a space for themselves in the boys' club. As one of the earliest and most successful hip-hop groups, Salt-N-Pepa, comprised of Cheryl "Salt" James, Sandra "Pepa" Denton and Deidra "DJ Spinderella" Roper, influenced the rap game for generations.

From Lil' Kim and Queen Latifah to Nicki Minaj and Missy Elliott, some of the biggest names in hip-hop owe a debt to the GRAMMY Award-winning group Salt-N-Pepa for breaking barriers.

Salt-N-Pepa worked at Sears with Kid 'n Play and Martin Lawrence

Before becoming Salt-N-Pepa, James and Denton were two college students who met at Queensborough Community College. While there, James invited Denton to start a new job making sales calls at a local Sears. Oddly enough, the pair weren't the only stars in the making who worked there.

Future hip-hop duo Kid 'n Play also worked in the call center, along with aspiring comedian Martin Lawrence. With cubicles right next to one another, all of them had big dreams which would eventually become realities. And although James was less than impressed with Lawrence's jokes in the office, she and Denton made a pact with the budding comedian, saying "whoever gets put on first will put the other on." Salt-N-Pepa stayed true to their word, eventually having Lawrence open for them at the Manhattan club, Inferno.

Salt-N-Pepa's first time rapping was a response to 'The Show' by Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick

In 1985, while in college, James dated fellow student Hurby "Luv Bug" Azor. Azor studied audio production and asked James and Denton if they could rap for a project he wanted to work on. They were hesitant, but agreed to work on a track that Azor wrote and produced. The song, "The Show Stopper" was meant to be a diss track responding to Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick's "The Show."

Not long after recording the track, the duo heard the song on the radio and couldn't believe it. Denton, who was driving at the time, pulled over to yell "They're playing my song! That's me! That's me on the radio!" With Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick being established rappers, James and Denton waited on a response with bated breath, but they never got a lyrical rebuttal from the rap legends.

Before they were Salt-N-Pepa, they called themselves 'Super Nature'

In their breakout song, "The Show Stopper," the two were called "Super Nature" by Azor. However, the track featured a line that said "We the salt and pepper" that resonated with hip-hop heads around New York City. Radio listeners called in repeatedly, requesting the "That salt and pepper song." After that, they ditched Super Nature and rode the wave when audiences dubbed them Salt-N-Pepa. And the rest is history.

There were two Spinderellas

One vital member of the hip-hop group Salt-N-Pepa was their DJ Spinderella. Introduced via manager Azor, the role of Spinderella was originally filled by Latoya Hanson. And although she was featured on the cover of Salt-N-Pepa's debut album Hot, Cool & Vicious, she was replaced before she had a chance to appear in any videos alongside the duo.

Due to "clashing personalities," Hanson was replaced with Deidra Roper in 1987, a high school student who was also introduced through Azor and kept the moniker Spinderella. She would travel and perform for years with Salt-N-Pepa, and is popularly recognized as Spinderella.

Singles 'Expression' and 'Shoop' were the start of creative independence for Salt-N-Pepa

Since their conception, Salt-N-Pepa's lyrics, production and brand was controlled by Azor. It wasn't until their third album Blacks' Magic that the duo began to break away from him. After the success of their first two albums, James understood all the ins and outs of making a hit track. And as her personal and professional relationship with Azor deteriorated, her desire to mature as an artist grew.

"[It was] not only [about] creative independence, I was looking for personal independence from being Hurby's girlfriend," James told Rock the Bells. She found that independence with the platinum single "Expression," the first song James wrote on her own.

Denton also found her voice on their next album Very Necessary. She co-wrote and co-produced the smash single "Shoop," which their label was hesitant to promote as a lead single from the album, since they'd usually worked with Azor. However, with the backing of James, the single was released and became another platinum-selling smash for the group.

Salt-N-Pepa boycotted the GRAMMYs with their first ever nomination for 'Push It'

Salt-N-Pepa were breaking records with their hit single "Push It" when they decided to make a move that could've gotten them blackballed in the music industry.

While news of the award was exciting, once it was revealed that the category wouldn't be televised the nominees took offense. Def Jam, who represented LL Cool J and DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, led the charge in boycotting the lack of visibility for rappers at the GRAMMYs that year.

Salt-N-Pepa agreed to join the boycott, standing in solidarity against the GRAMMYs. The group would ultimately lose the award to DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince that year but went on to win their first GRAMMY for "None of Your Business" in 1994.