Last Updated: October 16, 2023
Richest CelebritiesRappers
Net Worth:
$14 Million
Mar 28, 1966 (57 years old)
Singer, Rapper, Actor
United States of America
💰 Compare Cheryl James AKA Salt's Net Worth
Table of ContentsExpand
  1. Early Life
  2. Rap Career
  3. Personal Life

What is Cheryl Renee James's (aka Salt) Net Worth?

Cheryl Renee James, better known as Salt, is an American rapper and songwriter who has a net worth of $14 million. Cheryl James rose to fame as a member of the award-winning female rapper group Salt-N-Pepa.

Formed in the mid-1980s in Queens, New York, Salt-N-Pepa was a trailblazing act. Consisting of Salt (Cheryl James), Pepa (Sandra Denton), and initially DJ Latoya Hanson, who was later replaced by DJ Spinderella (Deidra Roper), the group became synonymous with powerful lyrics, catchy hooks, and a fierce attitude. Their influence went beyond music, as they addressed social issues, particularly those affecting women, embedding empowerment and self-expression into their artistry.

Cheryl James's sharp lyrical skills and distinct voice played a pivotal role in the group's success. Salt-N-Pepa's hits like "Push It," "Shoop," and "Let's Talk About Sex" are not just remembered as chart-toppers but also as anthems that championed female empowerment, sexuality, and identity at a time when these topics were considered taboo. Their bold approach garnered both admiration and criticism, but it undeniably carved a space for women in hip-hop.

Salt-N-Pepa's legacy is not just about their numerous awards or multi-platinum albums, but it's also about their role in reshaping the narrative of what female musicians could achieve in the rap and hip-hop genre.

Early Life

James was born on March 28, 1966 in New York City, New York. Her father worked as a transit worker while her mother worked as a bank manager. She grew up in Brooklyn as the middle child of three total children. She attended Grover Cleveland High School and graduated in 1983. She then enrolled at Queensborough Community College with the intent to study nursing. While attended school, she also worked part-time at Sears.

Rap Career

While in college, James became good friends with Sandra Denton in 1985. James' then boyfriend, Hurby Azor, suggested that the two record a rap to help him with a project in his record production program. Recognizing their potential as artists, the two then decided to form the group Super Nature with Azor as their manager. They added Latoya Hanson to the group, who acted as the group's DJ. They released the single "The Show Stoppa," which was born out of the original class project they did with Azor, in 1985, which became a modest R&B hit. They were signed to Next Plateau Entertainment and adopted the stage name Salt-N-Pepa, with James taking on the persona of Salt. In December of 1986, they released their debut album, "Hot, Cool & Vicious."

In 1987, Hanson left the group and was replaced by Deidra Roper, a.k.a. Spinderella. The group also rebranded themselves as Salt-N-Pepa after a lyric in "The Show Stoppa." Their album was growing steadily more popular, with one of its B-sides's, "Push It" becoming a platinum single in the United States. It also received a Grammy Award nominations.

In 1988, they released their second album, "A Salt with a Deadly Pepa."  The album featured a couple of singles that did moderately well on the charts, as well as "Twist and Shout" which became a major hit in the United Kingdom. The album was certified gold and sold over 800,000 copies around the world.

In 1990, the group released their third album and James took on some producing assignments. The album produced a number of hits including "Expression," which was produced by James. It also featured "Let's Talk About Sex," "You Showed Me," and "I Don't Know." Three years later, in 1993, the group released their fourth album, "Very Necessary." This album featured a number of singles that would go on to be major hits, including "Shoop" and "Whatta Man." The album eventually sold seven million copies worldwide and went five times platinum in the United States. They toured with this album and James also ventured into acting. She co-starred in the 1993 film "Who's the Man?" as one of her first acting projects.

Cheryl Renee James Net Worth

Jemal Countess / Getty Images

In 1995, Salt-N-Pepa made history as the first female rap act to win a Grammy, snagging the ward for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.

Over the next couple of years, the group legally broke away from Azor and signed with Red Ant Records. They released their next album, "Brand New" in 1997, though it did not sell as much as their previous albums due to Red Ant's bankruptcy.  The same year, James was featured in the song "Stomp" by gospel artist Kirk Franklin and his group God's Property. The album the track appeared on became one of the best-selling albums in gospel music history.

Salt-N-Pepa released "The Best of Salt-N-Pepa in 2000. The following year, James decided to quit the group, stating that she had had enough of the music industry. Salt-N-Pepa officially disbanded in 2002.

In November of 2004, James appeared in VH1's inaugural "Hip Hop Honors" program. The following year, she performed with Salt-N-Pepa for the 2005 show. This was the group's first performance since 1999. They next performed at the 2008 BET Hip Hop Awards where they performed "Shoop," "Push It," and "Whatta Man." They group soon after decided to reform in 2007. They also signed a contract with VH1 to have their own show, "The Salt-N-Pepa Show," which primarily chronicled the lives of James and Denton. They have continued performing at events and on tour over the past decade. James also continued performing in the gospel music world and was featured in the 2009 Generation Gospel Exclusive on the 106 & Gospel network.

In 2021, the Lifetime network released an eponymous biopic of the group on which James and Denton served as executive producers.

Personal Life

During the early years of Salt-N-Pepa, James dated Hurby Azor, the manager. They remained together until 1989. In the 1990s, she began dating Gavin Wray and the two married on Christmas Eve in 2000. They had two children together, Corin and Chapele, before they were married and then divorced following a four-year divorce battle.

On a trip to Ethiopia with Oakwood College, James was baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 2001.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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