Salt-N-Pepa‘s Cheryl James and Sandra Denton had sounded optimistic when they spoke to Billboard in December about a reunion with DJ Spinderella despite the latter’s 2019 lawsuit against the two. But though James said “time heals all wounds,” if you ask Deidra Roper — the woman behind the turntables — it’s going to take a little more than time to get the group back together.
“The relationship is over,” Roper tells Billboard‘s Jordyn Rolling in a new interview, noting that she’s hurt by how she feels James and Denton — whom she considered sisters — treated her. And as far as she’s concerned, a reunion — no matter how much fans might want it — isn’t going to become reality without a big gesture. “The only way something like that would happen is if we get this business handled and that they offer an apology to me.”
She adds: “When you have a legacy, you want to make sure that would outweigh this stuff. So I’m not, you know, I’m not closed off to that, but I will be respected. I will be treated fairly. … I will never be in a group that does not want to be with me.”
Roper sued her bandmates in July 2019, a few months after she says she learned of her termination via email. The DJ, who joined the Grammy-winning hip-hop group in 1987, claimed in her lawsuit that the duo owed her hundreds of thousands in royalties, and that they breached her contract, among other allegations. The three eventually reached a confidential settlement, though Roper tells Billboard there are “still some remnants” of the legal issue ongoing.
The DJ also shares what she feels Salt-N-Pepa’s legacy is: “It’s always what it’s been: to uplift women.” But nowadays, she feels that’s not happening within the former trio itself. “How are we going to uplift women if we can’t uplift each other?” she asks. “How does that make me feel, that you make me feel that I’m not needed. … That’s not uplifting.”
Also not uplifting, according to Roper, is how Denton and James didn’t involve her in the making of Lifetime’s movie about Salt-N-Pepa, which aired Jan. 23. “This biopic was more … I think it was just more insulting to me,” she shares, though she notes she hadn’t watched it despite being depicted in the film.
In an interview with The Real Feb. 2, James and Denton said that they did reach out to Roper to consult with her about the biopic, but noted that the focus of the film was on James and Denton’s friendship. Added James of their relationship: “We’ve come to a crossroads where we have decided to agree to disagree. … There’s six sides to every story. We just hope that we can come to some sort of resolution in the future.”
While things with her former band members may not be rosy, Roper says she does feel “blessed.” After all, she tells Billboard, she survived contracting the coronavirus. “I actually did have COVID,” she shares. “I feel like I may have had it, like, when it first dropped on us. But I had COVID over the holiday — Thanksgiving — and it was rough, but thank God I made it through.”
As for the future, Roper says she’s “hopeful” thanks to some “beautiful things” happening. The 50-year-old is now a grandmother, and is getting married this year. In addition, she’s working on a memoir she’s tentatively calling Queen on Deck that she’s hoping to release by the end of 2021 — and it will include her time with Salt-N-Pepa.
“I get to share who I am, ’cause I’ve kind of been in the background, with my former group for the most part,” Roper explains. “So coming out and doing this is really important to me to express me now.”
For more on Billboard‘s interview with Salt-N-Pepa’s DJ Spinderella, watch the video above.