If you’re wondering where Hurby Azor is now, all you have to do is tune into Lifetime on Saturday, Jan. 23, to see his latest work. The prolific music producer — who recently judged the Haitian talent competition Digicel Star of Stars — is a co-executive producer of the new Lifetime TV biopic Salt-N-Pepa.
And that behind-the-scenes role is only fitting. Hurby “Luv Bug” Azor not only co-wrote the Salt-N-Pepa hit “Push It,” but found a “successful formula of pop-crossover rap production” that made the ’90s hip-hop group into multi-platinum stars, as AllMusic reports.
The TV movie shows how Hurby helped Salt-N-Pepa’s ascent to fame.
“Salt-N-Pepa details the journey of Queensborough Community College students Cheryl ‘Salt’ James and Sandra ‘Pepa’ Denton as they enter the world of rap and hip hop, after recording a song for their friend Hurby Azor,” Lifetime says. “Salt-N-Pepa made a huge impact as one of the first all-female rap groups, changing the look of hip hop and being unafraid to talk about sex and share their thoughts on men. The movie follows the group as they become the first female rap act to go platinum.”
In the film — written by Abdul Williams, the scribe behind The New Edition Story and The Bobby Brown Story — actor Cleveland Berto (Terminator: Dark Fate) plays Hurby, while G.G. Townson (In the Cut) plays Salt, and Laila Odom (Undercover Brother 2) portrays Pepa.
Hurby is the third member of the group, Pepa says.
In a recent interview with The New York Times, Salt and Pepa, who executive-produced the movie, explained why Hurby is such a prominent part of the story.
“The truth is the truth,” Salt told the newspaper. “And Hurby was our guy. He started out being my boyfriend. Being an artist was something that he embodied and transferred over to us. … I didn’t know how to sing. I didn’t play an instrument. When hip-hop came along, it was an opportunity to realize something that I was passionate about — and that was through Hurby.”
Pepa added: “When Hurby felt that I was the one that will be Pepa, I was thrown in the studio. Hurby had his vision. He wanted it said, done — this kind of way and no other way. I had a difficult time in the beginning, jumping on the beat. Finally, I got it.”
Salt went on: “Pep always says, ‘Hurby is our third,’ and the chemistry between the three of us was explosive on so many levels. Pep and Hurby used to fight like cats and dogs. It was just an explosion of creativity, of passion, of drama that resonated into a sound, a music, a movement.”
But perhaps now — in the age of Cardi B and Nicki Minaj — Salt-N-Pepa might have broken through without Hurby’s help.
“We had to come through a Hurby,” Salt explained to The New York Times. “There was a time when you had to be vouched for by a camp — a man camp. That’s starting to change through social media and all the avenues that people have to put themselves out there, without belonging to a Jay-Z or whoever.”
Salt-N-Pepa airs Saturday, Jan. 23, at 8 p.m. EST on Lifetime.