Pepa (rapper)

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Pepa performing with Salt-N-Pepa at the Canberra Theatre, Australia, 2013
Sandra Jacqueline Denton

9 November 1964 or 1969
Other names
  • Pepa
  • Sandy Denton
  • Pep
  • Sandi[1]
  • Rapper
  • singer
  • actress
Years active1985–present
(m. 1999; div. 2001)
Musical career
OriginQueens, New York, U.S.

Sandra Jacqueline Denton (born 9 November 1964[3][4] or 1969[5][6][7]), better known by her stage name Pepa or Pep, is a Jamaican-American rapper, best known for her work as a member of the female rap trio Salt-N-Pepa. Denton starred in The Salt-N-Pepa Show, a reality TV series focusing on reforming the group which aired on the VH1 network in 2008. Since January 2016, Denton has appeared as a supporting cast member on the music reality television show Growing Up Hip Hop which airs on We TV.[8][9]

Early life[edit]

Sandra Jacqueline Denton[10][11] was born in Kingston, Jamaica to Charles and Enid Denton (née Hyacinth),[12][13] the youngest of eight children. Denton lived on a farm in Jamaica with her grandmother until she was six years old.[14] Denton's family moved to Queens, New York, when she was three; and she later joined them. Denton has been a performer since childhood. Denton was molested as a child. Denton released a book about her life in 2008 entitled Let's Talk About Pep in which she talked about being molested, her many abusive relationships, and how Salt-N-Pepa formed.[citation needed]

In 1979, 15-year-old[15] Denton was sent to live with her elder sister Patsy in Logan, Utah, when her family home in Queens caught fire and so she could have a better life.[16][15] According to Denton, she was the only Black student attending Logan High School during that time. Denton became inspired by rock music; citing AC/DC and Led Zeppelin as her inspirations during her time in Utah. After a year in Utah, Denton returned to New York, later graduating from Springfield Gardens High School.

Denton worked as telephone solicitors at a Sears in College Point.[17] She met Cheryl James in the Sears lunchroom.[17] They both were also enrolled as nursing students at Queensborough Community College.[17][18]


With the production by Hurby "Luv Bug" Azor whom she and James met while working as customer service representatives at Sears, James and Denton released a single called "The Showstopper" which became a moderate R&B hit in late 1985.[19][20] They were joined with Latoya Hanson who was the original DJ of the group. Shortly after in 1986, Deidra "Spinderella" Roper joined as the group's DJ as a full-length debut album, Hot, Cool & Vicious, was being released. The trio released a total of five studio albums: Hot, Cool, and Vicious (1986), A Salt with a Deadly Pepa (1988), Blacks' Magic (1990), Very Necessary (1993), and Brand New (1997), plus several greatest hits albums. Salt-N-Pepa disbanded in 2002, several months after their Brand New album was released on Red Ant Records. Denton's co-group member Cheryl James had stated she was ready to leave the music industry. The trio reunited for a performance on VH1's Hip Hop Honors program on 22 September 2005. In 2005, Denton was a cast member of VH1's The Surreal Life (season 5).[citation needed]

Denton's acting credits also include the motion picture Joe's Apartment, an appearance in the HBO movie First Time Felon, and a stint as Officer Andrea Phelan on the HBO drama, Oz. She starred on The Surreal Life: Fame Games. Salt-N-Pepa reformed in 2008, and are still[when?] in the process of releasing an album since reforming as they work out past issues.[citation needed] Denton teamed up with James for VH1's The Salt-N-Pepa Show. She starred in her own reality show on the network entitled Let's Talk About Pep, word-play on the group's hit song "Let's Talk About Sex". She can be heard speaking Jamaican Patois in the song "Need U Bad" by Jazmine Sullivan. In August 2008, Denton released her autobiography, which was also entitled Let's Talk About Pep. It was co-written by Karen Hunter, and it offered a look behind the fame, family, failures, and successes of her life in one of hip-hop's most successful groups. It features an introduction by Queen Latifah, and an epilogue by Missy Elliott. To accommodate the book, Pepa launched her own social network for her fans. On 23 October 2008, Salt-N-Pepa performed at the BET Hip Hop Awards. In January 2011, Denton appeared in an episode of the TBS sitcom Are We There Yet? as Tammy, a woman who falls for the Terry Crews character of Nick. Denton joined the reality television show Growing Up Hip Hop as a supporting cast member in January 2016 along with her daughter Egypt (a main cast member) and niece Tahira Francis.[21][22]

Personal life[edit]

Denton once dated and was engaged to rapper Prince Markie Dee sometime during the mid-1980s.[23] She also briefly dated actor Will Smith.[24] On 6 July 1990, Denton gave birth to her first child, a son she had with New York rapper Tyran "Tah-Tah" Moore[25][26] whom she named Tyran Denton Jr. She made a guest appearance on Ricki Lake in 1994, teaching teenage girls the responsibilities of being a mother. Denton was the owner of HollyHood, a retail clothing store in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, Georgia, which opened in November 1995.[27][28][29] On 2 April 1999, Denton married Treach (whose real name is Anthony Criss) of the rap group Naughty by Nature at a Kansas City tattoo parlor after dating on and off for seven years.[30][31] Their wedding ceremony was held at their home in Morristown, New Jersey, on 24 July 1999.[32] Denton and Treach had one daughter, Egypt Jahnari Criss (born 2 September 1998). After allegations of physical abuse inflicted by Treach, they divorced in 2001.[33][34]


Studio albums


Year Title Role Notes
1992 Stay Tuned Herself (with Salt-N-Pepa)
1993 Who's the Man? Sherise
1994 Jason's Lyric Sandy
1996 Joe's Apartment Blank
1997 First Time Felon Laverne
1997 Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child Little Kitten (Voice) Episode: Mother Goose
2000 Linc's Herself Episode: "The Music In Me"
2000–2003 Oz Officer Andrea Phelan 6 episodes
2001 3 A.M. Ellen
2002 Love and a Bullet Female with cue stick
2002 Book of Love Herself
2007 The Perfect Holiday V-Jay
2010 Let's Talk About Pep Herself 8 episodes
2011 Are We There Yet? Tammy Episode: "The Oh No She Di-in't Episode"
2011 Queen of Media Herself
2014 Sharknado 2: The Second One Polly
2015 Family Time Herself Episode: "Salt N' Spice N' Pepa"
2015 Cookin' with Salt-N-Pepa Herself 7 episodes
2015 Lip Sync Battle Herself Episode: "Sandra Denton vs. Cheryl James"
2017 Sandy Wexler Testimonial


  1. ^ "Salt N' Pepa: Take Control Of Their Careers With New Business Ventures". JET Magazine. Johnson Publishing Company. 3 April 1995. Retrieved 17 December 2017 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ Company, Johnson Publishing (3 May 1999). "Jet". Johnson Publishing Company – via Google Books.
  3. ^ Hess, Mickey (2009). Hip Hop in America: A Regional Guide. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-313-34321-6.
  4. ^ Hicks, Jonathan P. (9 November 2013). "This Day in Black History: Nov. 9, 1964". Archived from the original on 22 January 2014.
  5. ^ Worldcat – Denton, Sandra 1969 -
  6. ^ Price, Emmett George; Iber, Jorge (2006). Hip Hop Culture. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-1-85109-867-5.
  7. ^ Betts, Graham (2006). Complete UK Hit Singles 1952-2006. Collins. ISBN 978-0-00-720077-1.
  8. ^ "Salt-N-Pepa Makes a Cameo in Sneak Peek of 'Growing Up Hip Hop' Season Three" (video). Entertainment Tonight. 19 July 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  9. ^ "Master P Gets Flirty With Sandy 'Pepa' Denton on 'Growing Up Hip Hop'". Entertainment Tonight. 27 July 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  10. ^ Bynoe, Yvonne (2006). Encyclopedia of Rap and Hip-hop Culture. Greenwood Press. ISBN 978-0-313-33058-2. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  11. ^ Magazine, Vibe (2001). Hip-Hop Divas. Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0-609-80836-8. Retrieved 16 October 2017.
  12. ^ Magazine, Vibe (2001). Hip-Hop Divas. Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0-609-80836-8. Retrieved 22 November 2017.
  13. ^ "Wedding Of The Decade (Pepa & Treach Wed In Star Studded Ceremony)". Ebony Magazine. Johnson Publishing Company. October 1999 – via Google Books.
  14. ^ "Sandra "Pepa" Denton". Biography. 25 January 2021.
  15. ^ a b "Behind The Music – Salt 'n' Pepa: Behind the Music #145 – VH1". VH1. Archived from the original on 31 July 2017.
  16. ^ Denton, Sandy (26 August 2008). Let's Talk About Pep. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4391-2660-8.
  17. ^ a b c Bonfante, Lisa; Resnick, Jill; Scolavine, Vanessa; Sullivan, Matthew (January 13, 1990). "'Queens from Queens' rap about life". Kennebec Journal (Augusta, Maine). p. B-8.
  18. ^ Dickie, George (January 17, 2021). "Lifetime spotlights a pioneering rap act in 'Salt-N-Pepa'". The Sacramento Bee. p. T27.
  19. ^ Hook, Sue Vander (6 February 2018). Hip-Hop Fashion. Capstone. ISBN 978-1-4296-4017-6 – via Google Books.
  20. ^ Hess, Mickey (2007). Icons of Hip Hop: An Encyclopedia of the Movement, Music, and Culture. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0-313-33902-8 – via Google Books.
  21. ^ "Growing Up Hip-Hop: Meet The Cast". WE tv. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  22. ^ "IS PEPA'S NEW HOUSE HAUNTED? SEASON 3, EPISODE 2". WE tv. 27 July 2017. Retrieved 17 December 2017.
  23. ^ "Salt 'n Pepa Shake It Up, Laying a Cold Rap on Men".
  24. ^ Bell, Sadie (28 December 2023). "Will Smith Says 'Most Terrified' He's Ever Been Was on His 'One and Only Date' with Pepa of Salt-N-Pepa". Peoplemag. Retrieved 20 March 2024.
  25. ^ Pepa D, Sandra. "Wishing my son, my first born a HAPPY BIRTHDAY! I can't wait until your back back in LA and we celebrate! As Mama Says All the Best! Love you Ty ! @tysensei07". Archived from the original on 24 December 2021. Retrieved 9 July 2018.
  26. ^ "Rapper's life story, Pepa'd with violence". New York Daily News.
  27. ^ "Pepa's Hollyhood". Vibe Magazine. 1 March 1996. Retrieved 17 December 2017 – via Google Books.
  28. ^ "Strictly Business: Rappers Get Entrepreneurial Itch". Vibe Magazine. 1 November 1996. Retrieved 17 December 2017 – via Google Books.
  29. ^ "Signing In". JET Magazine. Johnson Publishing Company. 18 December 1995. Retrieved 17 December 2017 – via Google Books.
  30. ^ "Lovers". Vibe Magazine. Vibe Media. December 1996 – January 1997. p. 115. Retrieved 28 November 2017 – via Internet Archive. Pepa and treach.
  31. ^ Icons of Hip Hop: 1. ABC-CLIO. 2007. ISBN 978-0-313-33902-8. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  32. ^ Brady, Lois (1 August 1999). "VOWS; Sandra Denton and Anthony Criss". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  33. ^ "Sandy "Pepa" Denton: Pep Talk". Essence. Retrieved 28 April 2016.
  34. ^ "Sandy 'Pepa' Denton Keeps an Open Dialogue with Kids".

External links[edit]