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DJ Spinderella airs two decades of grievances in Salt-N-Pepa lawsuit

By | Published on Monday 15 July 2019

Spinderella litigate one time! Does that work? No, not really. But, you see, Salt-N-Pepa’s long-time DJ Spinderella last week sued her former bandmates in a lawsuit that follows her sacking at the start of the year, but which includes grievances dating back two decades.

According to allegations contained in the legal papers that were filed in a Texas court, Salt (aka Cheryl James-Wray) and Pepa (aka Sandra Denton) have exploited and under-paid their DJ – real name Deidra Roper – ever since the end of the 1990s. So, in the years immediately before and ever since the outfit’s hiatus in the early 2000s.

The grievances referenced in the lawsuit begin with the group’s 1999 greatest hits album which, it states, Roper was not consulted on or properly paid for. She then complains that she was only ever invited onto VH1’s ‘Salt-N-Pepa Show’ – which aired in 2007 and 2008 – as a low-paid guest. And for live performances in more recent years, she alleges, she was either not paid, underpaid or didn’t receive payments she was originally promised.

Roper took part in Salt-N-Pepa’s Las Vegas residency last year, but says she was forced to lower her fee by 50% half way through the venture. She agreed to lower that fee, she says, because of the promise of a higher rate being paid on future shows. But then, shortly after that, she received a letter from Salt-N-Pepa’s lawyer sacking her from the outfit.

That meant Roper wouldn’t participate in a planned US tour with New Kids On The Block. The DJ herself announced this to fans as that ‘Mixtape’ tour got underway in May, writing on Instagram: “I’m deeply saddened to share with all the #SaltnPepa and #Spinderella fans that I will not be performing on the #NKOTB Mixtape Tour”.

She added: “Despite my participation in promoting the tour and being highly publicised as one of the acts, in January 2019 I received a ‘termination’ email from #SaltnPepa excluding me from performances with the group. It was my expectation, after making that decision, that they would also take responsibility for sharing the news with the public and other affected parties. It has been months now with no mention”.

In her lawsuit, Roper says that by continuing to use her image in promotional materials for the shows that she was excluded from, Salt-N-Pepa’s company S&C Productions Inc is liable for trademark infringement and the misappropriation of her persona and identity.

According to Law 360, the lawsuit says that, after sending Roper’s termination notice, “S&C Productions Inc … continued to commercially exploit the identity, persona and brand of Roper without her permission or any compensation … resulting in a massive public hoax and scam … The defendants’ fraudulent activity has continued throughout 2019 to the present, and throughout the currently ongoing nationwide Mixtape Tour”.

On top of all that, there is one final dispute over royalties collected by US society SoundExchange for the use of Salt-N-Pepa recordings by American satellite and online radio services. Roper alleges that her former bandmates have been collecting all the artist royalties that SoundExchange administers, even though – she claims – that money should have been shared with here. That, she alleges, has deprived her of more than $600,000.

The lawsuit goes on: “Roper has performed on numerous SNP audio and audio-visual recordings, including ‘Whatta Man’ and ‘Let’s Talk About Sex’, as a member of the legendary SNP group. As a result of Roper’s extensive recording activities with SNP, Roper was entitled to an equitable share of the featured performer digital royalties collected by SoundExchange as authorised under federal law”.

Legal reps for James-Wray, Denton and S&C Productions Inc are yet to respond.