"Every arena, place, or venue I've played, they will stare for the first couple of minutes," Deidra "Spinderella" Jones explained via phone from Los Angeles where she tapes her syndicated old school rap radio show The BackSpin. "Before, it used to be intimidating, but after a while I was like, 'go ahead and stare, but you'll see by the end of the night, you'll be sweating it out.'"
That's about as bold as the hiphop veteran of 20 years gets. She's uncharacteristically humble in light of her membership in the iconic rap group Salt-n-Pepa, whose relevance has possibly been overshadowed by Cheryl "Salt" Wray and Sandra "Pepa" Denton's recent reality TV appearances. Slighted by her cohorts' reintroduction of Salt-n-Pepa as a duo 11 years after their last release, she's surprisingly bile-free and intimates that a reunion album and tour might just be in the works.
Jones joined Salt-n-Pepa as an 11th grader, having learned the basics of DJ'ing from her high school boyfriend. Smitten, she toted his records, but one day made an impression playing around on his decks. When a classmate recommended she audition for an unnamed girl group, she jumped, and two rounds later emerged as the DJ for two Queens-bred Sears-shopgirls-turned-emcees. Their fun, feminist material was never a showcase for turntable wizardry, à la DJ Premier; rather, Jones occasionally wrested the mic from her sisters in stonewash and asymmetrical haircuts and rocked crowds globally as the trio's stock continually rose, influencing a sea of would-be woman rappers and DJs.
"I wasn't the first female DJ, but I didn't see any other female DJ," Jones recalled. "Most girls would be out, getting cute, getting a drink, talking to guys; I'd be at the DJ booth." Thanks to mentors like Jazzy Jeff and EPMD's DJ Scratch, Jones confidently swiped at any challenges to her ability. "At first people thought it was a novelty, like: 'She's cute, but can she really DJ?'" Turntablist she's admittedly not, but she's got a deep love for break beats and aims to please B-boy and B-girls as much as anyone else.
In the long shadow of Salt-n-Pepa's '80s and '90s success, Jones has found a niche as a radio personality and club DJ, escorting young and old through vintage hiphop records. Capturing the exuberance of her heyday is her aim, even if she underplays it at gigs. She is a shy personality who attempts to hit fans hard with her song selection as opposed to her antics. "Somebody told me that—I can't even say the word, it's a dirty word—I kind of fuck the crowd with the music. For me, it feels like it's a build, a climax." Now that's an entirely new way to talk about sex, but if it is as compelling as her group's previous attempts, it should be at least as stimulating.