Salt-N-Pepa Talks 'Nostalgia' of I Love the '90s Tour and Legacy: 'Our Songs Are Here to Stay'

Salt N' Pepa perform at the Keep a Child Alive Black Ball at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City on Oct. 19, 2016.
Rebecca Smeyne/Getty Images

Salt N' Pepa perform at the Keep a Child Alive Black Ball at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City on Oct. 19, 2016.

Thirty years after debuting on Billboard’s charts, the iconic hip-hop trio of Salt-N-Pepa is still going strong, headlining the successful multi-artist I Love the ‘90s tour. But what has made the show so appealing to fans?

“The ‘90s itself,” the act’s DJ Spinderella (Deidra “Dee Dee” Roper) tells Billboard. “When you say ‘the ‘90s,’ it’s just nostalgia. The ‘90s was an incredible era for music, hip-hop, pop culture — just everything. People want to go back. And Salt-N-Pepa — we were literally in our prime.”

Indeed, while the Grammy Award-winning group — Cheryl (Salt) James, Sandra (Pepa) Denton and Spinderella — broke onto the charts in 1987 and scored hits in the late ‘80s, including the iconic “Push It,” they exploded into the pop mainstream in the 1990s. The act landed a string of top 40-charting hits on the Billboard Hot 100 that decade with songs like “Shoop,” “Whatta Man” (featuring En Vogue), “Let’s Talk About Sex,” “Expression,” “Do You Want Me” and “None Of Your Business.”

Billboard caught up with two-thirds of the act (Pepa and Spinderella) before they hit the stage at the Microsoft Theater on March 10 for the I Love the ‘90s show.  At this particular engagement, the lineup featured Salt-N-Pepa, along with Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray, Coolio, Snap! and Freedom Williams. The artists playing at each date throughout the tour (which will extend to 2018, says Pepa) changes frequently and is ever-evolving. After more than 100 shows in 2016, the trek will continue in 2017 throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia and England.

When asked if the ladies ever have their own moment of nostalgia on the tour while watching the other acts perform, Spinderella gestures to Pepa. “This one.” Pepa laughs, “Yeah, I always watch the show. I do love watching the show. It’s fun! And I watch the audience, and I see the joy and the happiness — they’re really into it. A lot of times they'll even come dressed as the '90s.” (Cue visions of colorful jackets, overalls, baggy jeans and grunge-era plaid shirts.)

Pepa also says that it feels great to know that their music has been embraced by fans across generations — from “Shoop"s' use in Deadpool and the act’s star turn in a “Push It”-soundtracked Geico commercial, to even Beyoncé and her family dressing up as Salt-N-Pepa for Halloween. “A lot of our fans, they always say Salt-N-Pepa and Spinderella was the soundtrack to their lives… We’re just not going anywhere. Our songs are here to stay.”