Sandra “Pepa” Denton: Still ‘Pushing It’ 30 Years Later

Born in Kingston, Jamaica and growing up in Queens, New York, Sandra “Pepa” Denton came up in humble beginnings but knew she destined to be better. As a college student, she teamed up with her friend Cheryl James to form the legendary hip-hop/rap duo Salt-N-Pepa. Accompanied by DJ Deidra Roper aka Spinderella, Salt-N-Pepa became one of the most successful hip-hop groups of the late 1980s and 1990s, releasing crossover hits like “Let’s Talk About Sex” and “Shoop.”

Hot, Cool, & Vicious is the 1986 debut album by American rap group Salt-n-Pepa. It was one of the first albums to be released by an all-female rap group. It featured the iconic song “Push It” which is still gets the crowd jumping in the clubs and is even being featured in commercials. But that song and their album deal was something neither had imagined. They had to push past what people thought a hip-hop group was in a male-dominated industry. And they had to push past what they thought a hit song was (the group didn’t even like “Push It” but it became one of their biggest hits). Now, 30 years later Pepa shares how she’s still pushing past boundaries.

In her book, “Let’s Talk About Pep,” Denton speaks honestly about her rise from poverty, her fiery temper and her string of bad relationships.

Her deepest scars came from a decade-long romance with a man she calls “Brad.”

During one of their apocalyptic fights, she writes, “I had the hot iron in my hand and he had a handful of my hair. He grabbed the hand with the iron in it and was pushing [it] toward my face. … He ended up pressing that hot iron against my other arm. I heard my flesh sizzling, and the smell was sickening. I started screaming from the pain. He dropped the iron and I turned to run, and his nail swiped across my eyeball and shredded my cornea.” The incident left her with deep scars and an eye patch.

The couple had another brawl at actor Omar Epps’ house, where, she says, “Brad” threw her through a glass coffee table and tried to push her down the stairs.

On Being Cool
“We had fashion errors that became hits,” explains Denton. “We were bold with our colors and tights and being very sexy and the asymmetrical hairstyle. That was an accident that happened — my hair got shaved off on one side. I got a bad perm and had to shave it off on one side. And that became a big hit to this day, with a lot of people — Rihanna, Cassie, etc.. People always say that’s the Salt-N-Pepa look.” Now, that was cool and still cool today.

On Being Hot:

Now, at age 52, Pepa still gets men half her age trying to talk to her. But she’s much wiser with how and who she dates.

“I listen carefully,” explains Pep. “When you keep ignoring these little signs. .. signs are important. They’ll bite you down the line, if you’re like ‘Hey, I’m having a fun date and I just kind of played it off.’ That introduction is very important. Listen to the conversation, and if you see any flags go up. If I’m on a date now, anything that makes me go ‘hmm, I’m not sure,’ I’m going to question it and say ‘Well, what do you mean by that?’ I’m not just going to laugh it off.”

No matter which red carpet you see her on, Pepa is looking incredible nowadays.  She lost the extra pounds she gained after the height of her fame and her skin is flawless. She describes how she keeps it all looking hot. “I’m on a diet now, but I love vanilla ice cream, hot fudge with the nuts on top. That’s my downfall. I’m trying to create a…