Guys, I have a confession to make. I am more than a little bit obsessed with the artist I’m currently writing about. Some have called it a Level 3 girl-crush…Whatever. Basically, THIS is the blog post that I’ve been waiting for. Friends, WUD-ians, countrymen, lend me your ears. I’m going to tell you a tale. A tale that begins far, far away in the land of Minneapolis.
Dessa’s unique combination of musical talent and smart, biting lyricism first arose from participating in slam poetry competitions in college at the U of M. While living and working in Minneapolis after graduation, she befriended members of the Doomtree rap collective, and when they discovered her incredible talent for writing, they asked her to join the group. She has since gone on to basically conquer the world, releasing four albums with Doomtree, writing and publishing a book, developing her own lipstick color with The Elixery in Minneapolis, and releasing two solo albums with one more, Parts of Speech, on the way on June 25th. Parts of Speech is being hailed as Dessa’s best work yet, with a wealth of different genres, beats, and instruments weaving together into a beautifully cohesive album that has critics falling over with pure excitement. The first single, Warsaw, was described by one reviewer like this: “The track boasts a beat like Azealia Banks playing Pacman, which provides a background for our emcee’s confident, hypnotic flow.” Couldn’t have said it better myself. You can listen to that here.
Dessa’s style is truly exceptional. It’s rare to encounter a rapper who makes amazing music without conforming to the genre’s stereotypes, but she accomplishes it, refusing to be put exclusively into the box of “singer,” “rapper,” or “writer.” She’s not shy about calling out the sexism and hypocrisy present in the world of hip-hop, with lyrics like “I found your steel ladder/Now your ceilings don’t matter/Check me out now I got glass floors.” Dessa will make you think. She will grab you by the collar and make you listen to her lyrics. She will change how you think of women in rap music.
She is what I listen to when I’m blissfully happy, and what I listen to when I’m so angry that I want to punt strangers through the Camp Randall goalposts. Dessa is an incredible artist, and a role model for women everywhere. Not just those in the music industry, but all the women who deal with sexism and stereotyping in their lives and work.
Of course, this night would not be complete without the incredible talent of an all-female group of First Wave performers, in honor of this event’s co-sponsorship with the Campus Women’s Center. For those who don’t know, First Wave is a multicultural coalition of artists who are also students here on campus. They perform spoken word and hip-hop, polishing their skills and showcasing their talents all across campus, the city, and the country. Anyone who has seen First Wave in action before knows that they consistently put on an energetic and passionate show, and will be the perfect intro to a night full of strong women with mad talent.
And as a final quick plug, the Campus Women’s Center does amazing work on this campus, and we are very proud to be working with them to put on an incredible show that honors and promotes female artists and their accomplishments. This show is going to be ridiculously awesome. Get there.
Friday 4/19, The Sett, 9:00 PM
Here’s some videos, to get you pumped.