Dessa: Hip-Hop Word Warrior


Dessa performs at KEXP.

hide captionDessa performs at KEXP.

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Her eyes half-closed, Minneapolis MC Dessa flowed through the rhymes off her latest album, A Badly Broken Code. Her hands moved with the rhythm, and her voice was pitch-perfect. And suddenly, the backing CD started skipping.

We laughed, and she handled the technical glitch with remarkable grace. That gave me a chance to learn more about this impressive young artist, a longtime member of the Doomtree Collective, a hip-hop crew of rappers, producers, turntablists and musicians.

Listening to A Badly Broken Code, I was struck by the depth and beauty of Dessa's lyrics. I wasn't surprised at all to learn that she was active in the Twin Cities spoken-word scene, started out doing poetry slams and last year published a book of her poetry and short stories. She answered my questions with an eloquent intelligence, and had everyone transfixed with what she had to say about writing, teaching, collaboration and being a woman in the music industry.

Before she went on the air, Dessa confided to my assistant that when fellow Doomtree member/tourmate P.O.S. dropped her off at the KEXP station, he turned to her and said, "Do good." He needn't have worried, because she did great.

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