In the mid–1980s, Brooklyn–native Cheryl "Salt" James met Queens–native Jamaican rapper Sandra "Pepa" Denton, both studying nursing at Queensborough Community College. The pair became close friends and co–workers at Sears. Another co-worker Hurby Luv Bug
was studying record production at the Center of Media Arts and asked Cheryl and Sandra to record for him as a class project. This resulted in the single "The Showstopper"
(an answer record to Doug E. Fresh's The Show
) in late–1985 and reached No. 46 on the Billboard R&B chart. In September 1986, They signed to Next Plateau Records, recruited female high-school student-DJ named "Spinderella" and adopted the stage name Salt 'N' Pepa. Their first album released in December 1986 languished until DJ's began playing "Push It" in 1987, sending it to No. 19 and pushing the record to platinum sales, resulting in their international breakthrough.