Spinderella Dishes on Diabetes, DJing, and Defying the Hip-Hop Odds

DJ Spinderella has been active in the world of Hip-Hop for over 25 years as a pioneer of female DJs and as a member of the iconic group Salt N Pepa. The all-female group served as an inspiration and helped to open doors for more women to pick up a microphone or get behind the […]

DJ Spinderella has been active in the world of Hip-Hop for over 25 years as a pioneer of female DJs and as a member of the iconic group Salt N Pepa. The all-female group served as an inspiration and helped to open doors for more women to pick up a microphone or get behind the turntables.

Although she’s not a member of Salt N Pepa at this time, DJ Spinderella is looking to inspire once again, and her goal this time involves health awareness. In the last week alone, we’ve seen artists suffer mild strokes and seizures, so there’s a lot of importance to what Spinderella has to say. Now a spokesperson for the American Diabetes Association, Spin (as she likes to call herself) took the time to talk about diabetes awareness and why it’s such a personal issue with her. It doesn’t stop there. We also discuss music and her current situation with former group members:

AllHipHop.com: Spin, you’ve involved yourself with the American Diabetes Association lately. Please tell us about that.

DJ Spinderella: Diabetes has become an epidemic that affects us all – whether it’s ourselves or someone that we know. Over 25 million people are affected by it, including my family. I have lost family members due to diabetes, and most recently, my mother who died a few months ago from complications of it. My goal is to get helpful information and to pass that on to people. I used to be oblivious to the resources available, and I was unable to help my mother – that’s the biggest reason why I’m now doing this. I was helpless when my mother was diagnosed with it. I told her the usual stuff like watching the things that you eat and to exercise more, but there’s so much more attention that needs to be paid attention to. I wish I would’ve had those resources then that I have now.

The American Diabetes Association brought me on as a spokesperson. I don’t have it myself, but it is hereditary, and it is in my family. The resources are available on the American Diabetes Association website. They cover everything from the current healthcare situation to maintaining a healthy diet and even controlling your glucose levels. The website is www.diabetes.org, and there is so much information there. This site covers everything from the latest in treatment and care to maintaining a healthy diet and even controlling your glucose levels.

AllHipHop.com: That’s definitely a worthy cause.

DJ Spinderella: It is a worthy cause, and the day that I mentioned it on my Twitter, I received so many replies about it. People were telling me that they didn’t have anybody to go to about it or didn’t know where to look. That’s the main problem. A lot of people are in denial when they are diagnosed with diabetes. That stage of denial is important because if you are not proactive, complications will begin to kick in. This can result in kidney disease to amputations – and you don’t want to get that. You need to be proactive. There are also a lot of people that have diabetes and don’t even know it right now. Some people think that it’s terminal. It can be terminal. You can also have a long life, if you take care of yourself and maintain it. (According to the ADA diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, and as of January 2011, there are 7 million people currently undiagnosed).

AllHipHop.com: Why do you think there is such a denial about it?

DJ Spinderella: You are young, out and about, having fun – and then you hear this news. Denial kicks in and there’s depression. There are so many different things that need to be addressed when you are diagnosed. A lot of people are worried about healthcare, and if they can afford treatment. You can find organizations in your area that can help you by searching on the diabetes website.

My brother is currently at Stage 4 kidney failure. His son has diabetes, and he’s only 12. So I’m not just telling people to seek information. I’m doing it for myself and for my family too.

AllHipHop.com: With this disease being a part of your family history, what are you doing for yourself to prevent it?

DJ Spinderella: The website has been beneficial to me because as a DJ, I’m on the road a lot, so I have to really watch what I eat. I’m changing my diet and substituting the things that I love for things that aren’t as flavorful, but I’m finding that they are just as good. I have more energy now. I’m working out. People think that it costs to work out but you can go run the track or get on a bike. You don’t have to have a trainer to work out. Everything is not about cost, but even if it does cost, it’s worth it. What you feed your body is important.

AllHipHop.com: More young people are being diagnosed with diabetes. A lot of young people think that it’s a disease that affects older people only.

DJ Spinderella: I’ve spoken to some of my DJ friends who are diabetic, and they’ve let me know that handling it is a project in their life. Outside of DJ’ing and producing, they have a life beyond that, where they have to go home at the end of the day and maintain their glucose levels by taking insulin. That’s number one in their lives. It’s important for the Hip-Hop generation to maintain their health, and I am seeing that more and more. It’s not as frivolous as it used to be. For those that are on the road consistently, all I’m suggesting is for them to substitute all of that fattening food. If you’re eating out all of the time, go to the healthier side of the menu. A lot more restaurants are offering healthier items.

AllHipHop.com: Being on the road has got to be tough. You are out and hungry and then you pass by a McDonald’s.

DJ Spinderella: Yeah. [laughter] That’s what’s crazy about it, because sometimes you aren’t afforded that time to make a meal. Wherever you go, it’s important to see the other side of the menu. It definitely works. You can cut off hundreds of calories by using a different part of the menu. I’m thankful that’s possible now. I remember back in the day, we lived in the waffle houses that didn’t have healthier parts of the menu. More restaurants are offering that – and that can help extend your life.

AllHipHop.com: I know a lot of people don’t want to hear it, but excessive alcohol can contribute to diabetes too.

DJ Spinderella: That is a major problem, because alcohol can break down and raise your sugar levels.  As a DJ, that’s always around. You just have to be disciplined. I’m not perfect. It’s really hard when you are used to having dessert or something else that you really want or desire. I don’t have diabetes, but I act as if I do have it. Treating your body like that can help you move in the right direction to prevent it. The alcohol and buffets are always in my face, but I have to have that discipline. (www.diabetes.org has information about alcohol consumption and limitations for diabetics.)

AllHipHop.com: I heard that you are doing a diabetes charity walk to help raise money.

DJ Spinderella: The walk is on November 5 in Dallas, TX. I live in Dallas now. It’s to help raise money for research on a cure and to increase awareness. I have a team put together. More people are joining my team, which is great. They are holding walks all around the country in different cities. You can go to the website to find out about a charity walk in your city.

AllHipHop.com: Let’s talk about your career. You’re still an active DJ on the road?

DJ Spinderella: I still DJ. That’s the first love, and I love it more today than ever before. It’s kept me sane. I thank my dad for introducing me to it. My dad was a DJ, and he had all of the vinyl records. I’m still doing DJ gigs, although I’m no longer with Salt N Pepa.

AllHipHop.com: What’s up with that, by the way?

DJ Spinderella: Yeah, honey, here it goes. [laughter] We basically decided to part ways because, to be honest, I don’t believe that there is a lot of respect for the DJ within that situation. I felt like I needed to be away from that in order for us to maintain any kind of relationship. I do wish them well. They are doing them, and I’m doing me right now.

AllHipHop.com: It doesn’t seem like it would be the same. You’ve been such a big part of the group’s identity.

DJ Spinderella: I don’t know if you’ve seen their reality show. It kind of touched on that a little bit. They just basically treated me as if I was irrelevant to a certain degree. They didn’t see the worth in me. I wish it was different, and I know that the fans are the ones that are hurt the most by it – the ones that want to see the three of us together. I would love more than anything for us to come together, but there needs to be a level of respect when working with anybody. If you don’t have that respect, then you don’t have anything. I wish them well and until we can work those issues out, I’m going to keep doing what I do.

AllHipHop.com: That’s kind of sad.

DJ Spinderella: Yeah, it is sad. Trust me, it’s on my mind a lot, but I thank God for what he established with us, and all I can do is keep moving. If I dwell on it, I will get very hurt and angry. I’ve done that part already.

AllHipHop.com: Where do you think that lack of respect comes from?

DJ Spinderella: I don’t know. You would have to ask them. I will say that when Hip-Hop originated, there was the DJ and then the MC. It all started with the DJ. I was brought into the scene by Herbie Luv Bug. The group helped to raise me, and I depended on them for that. They were literally like my mother and sister figures. I felt very let down and disappointed at the outcome of things – when you speak of a sisterhood that’s lasted 25 years and can’t explain why you’re now performing with a male DJ. The group was seen as three females.

AllHipHop.com: In my eyes, the group was like a female version of Run-DMC in a sense. Salt and Pepa were like Run and DMC, with you having the Jam Master Jay role.

DJ Spinderella: Right. That’s how I see it, and that’s how a lot of people see it  – but Salt and Pepa need to see that too. I don’t think that there’s anything that intense in our relationship that can’t be worked out. On their show, they addressed each other and worked through their issues, but they have not chosen to do that with me. My door is open, but it won’t stay open. I’m not going to sit here forever waiting on that. We have to do what we say and mean what we say. Actions speak louder than words. When you speak of a sisterhood and talk about unity but don’t practice that within your own group – that’s a contradiction.

AllHipHop.com: Let’s talk about music. We love to ask to ask the people that we interview for their Top 5 Rappers Dead or Alive. I’m curious to know yours.

DJ Spinderella: I was just talking about this on DJ Scratch’s site. I have many, but I will throw these   five out there: Big Daddy Kane, Rakim, Biggie, Jay-Z, and Nas. That’s in no particular order, because I love them all for their different reasons. Then I love KRS-One, Ghostface, and Mos Def.

AllHipHop.com: Here come all of the honorable mentions.

DJ Spinderella: Yes, all of the honorable mentions. I love Tha Pharcyde, A Tribe Called Quest, and De La Soul. I have so many.

AllHipHop.com: If you could pick a top number one, who would it be?

DJ Spinderella: That’s so hard. Like I said before, I love the ones that I named for different reasons.  At this point today, I love Jay-Z. He’s the frontrunner today, but you can’t take away what Big Daddy Kane did or even Nas.

AllHipHop.com: No women on your list?

DJ Spinderella: I love Lauryn Hill. I would also say Salt N Pepa, but mostly the early days. I love the early Salt N Pepa. MC Lyte is a permanent fixture. I’m a big fan of Lil Kim. If I had to choose between Lil Kim and Nicki Minaj, it would be Lil Kim. I love Nicki, too – she brings her own flavor. There’s also a lot of female MCs that haven’t received their just due, like Jean Grae and a girl out here in Dallas named Ni Taylor.

AllHipHop.com: What’s changed in Hip-Hop since you first started DJ’ing?

DJ Spinderella: I’ve noticed that it’s getting more crowded – especially in the DJ’ing world. I love the fact that I’ve inspired a lot of women to become DJs.

AllHipHop.com: Over the past several years, I have seen a rise in female DJs.

DJ Spinderella: Yeah, that’s not even a question now. There are a lot of females that are nicer than the dudes. I love that. I am proud to see that growth. Digital DJs – that’s all great but you definitely want to go back to the roots of it and learn the basics and the beginnings of it all. Learn how to DJ on vinyl. Learn about the original DJs and what they did. Having software doesn’t make you a DJ. Anybody can choose music. A five-year-old can do that! There’s more to choosing a playlist of great music. In order to keep the integrity in the art of DJ’ing, I really stress one to learn from the beginning with turntables. I am putting together a course on DJ’ing. I’m still working on the name of it, though. A lot of people want to learn how to DJ, and I’ve got some success stories.

AllHipHop.com: I interviewed a female Hip-Hop producer recently, and I was curious as to why we don’t see more women becoming involved in that. Your thoughts?

DJ Spinderella: It would seem like the smart thing to do. Women know what other women like. The industry definitely caters to women when it comes to getting them to go to clubs and parties. Women love to dance to the music, and the men follow along to them. As a DJ, that’s what I play for – I play for the women. It would be only right for women to get more involved in that field. There have been women who have produced before, but it’s not their main forte. I know for myself that wasn’t something I wanted to do. I have to be passionate in the things that I do. The door is open, though. It’s wonderful to see a women do what is considered a man’s job. I love it.

Whether you are a man or a woman, if you find what you’re passionate about, it will carry you through your life. If you haven’t found something that you love, find it. It will carry you through the bad times and all of the difficulties that will come your way. Do what you love.