Salt-N-Pepa are set to perform with En Vogue at the Billboard Music Awards Sunday (May 20) to commemorate the 30th anniversary of them becoming the first female rap artists to hit the top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100. During Saturday dress rehearsals, Cheryl “Salt” James and Sandra “Pepa” Denton spoke with Billboard to reminisce about the very first time they saw themselves listed on the Hot 100 chart.
James, Denton and DJ Spinderella first debuted on the chart in 1987. The following year, their song “Push It” became the first rap song by a female act to hit the top 40 of the Hot 100, and it eventually climbed its way up to No. 19.
“I remember the record company calling us — I don’t remember where I was — but calling us and telling us to look in Billboard and see that we made the Billboard charts,” says James. “And we were like, ‘Wow!’ cause that was a big, big — and still is — a very big deal.”
“To be the first female rappers to hit top 20 is insane,” she continues.
Denton says of the time “Push It” broke the top 40, “In that time, in that moment… to be recognized, it does feel good… Billboard has reached out to us a few times and this is truly an honor again.”
“And to be closing [the show], that’s really huge,” adds James.
Make sure to watch the 2018 Billboard Music Awards this Sunday, May 20, at 8 p.m. ET live on NBC.