A few years ago, this trio of female rappers cracked the pop charts with hits like ''Let's Talk About Sex,'' an articulate, funny, and danceable primer on sex and the single flygirl that hit male-dominated hip-hop where it hurt. Their raps had the delicious honesty of conversations one might overhear in a women's room. To SNP, self-esteem and sexual independence weren't everything, they were the only thing.
On their fourth album, Very Necessary (Next Plateau/London/PLG, SNP continues working the same ground, spinning tales of life on the front lines of the sexual battlefield with old-fashioned, take-that-sucker deejay-style vocals laid over funk rhythms. As usual, the results are fast, funny, and deftly delivered. ''I wrote a number and I know you thought you'd get humped/But it was Dial-a-Date 1-900-CHUMP,'' raps Pepa in ''Somebody's Getting on My Nerves.'' These days, what with every Janet Jackson, En Vogue, and SWV getting as nasty as they wanna be, SNP's straight talk could sound as boring and predictable as a public-service announcement. What saves them is legit street credsomething those upscale girls would kill to have a shred of.