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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Hip Hop Artist Dessa Doesn’t Fit The Mold

(Courtesy of Kelly)

Thirty year-old Dessa has been making waves, both as a solo artist and as a member of the Minnesota hip-hop collective Doomtree.

Her 2010 CD “A Badly Broken Code” was critically acclaimed and she just released her latest release “Castor The Twin.”

Dessa doesn’t fit the typical mold of a rap artist- she’s white, female and from Minnesota.

“At the beginning of my career I worried about it a lot. I wanted to make sure that I seemed credible… that I was paying the respect that’s due to the music that was largely innovated by another culture set.  And then, ten years in, you worry about, ‘is this song good.,” Dessa told Here & Now’s Robin Young.

Dessa also says that female hip-hop tends to either try to outdo male hip-hop in misogyny or puts women on a pedestal, and that neither of those alternatives appeal to her.

She says she doesn’t want to confine herself to rap, she sings on both of her CDs. A former student of philosophy at the University of Minnesota, Dessa finds that music gives her a wider audience than academia.


  • Dessa, born Maggie Wander, music artist

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  • Apdpalmer

    She sounds very similar to Ani DeFranco. As a 30something on the end of that decade, I really like this music. Thanks for sharing!

  • Schuber07

    Can’t say that I agree with the comparison to Ani DeFranco. I think Dessa is coming from a different place with her lyrics. Ani’s music has a harshness that I can’t find in the songs I have listened to by Dessa. 

  • KerMuhDzhun

         Wow! I’ve been epistemologically quandrilized! I don’t expect you to “pedestalize” me for it.
         Really?! So tired of hearing privileged people with higher educations muddle English with unnecessary “-isticalisms” so rampant among the young.  (Yes, if you get to go to university, you are privileged, but if one works really hard, one can make oneself sound even more ignorant than the formally uneducated.) So sad, especially since one didn’t used to hear such things on public radio. To be fair, Miss Wander isn’t the first or the last. Having written that, I must compliment Robin Young for being more gracious than I. (Living language, youth, et.al., forgive me, please.)
         The show’s host was correct. Dessa does have a lovely voice, it may even be beautiful when singing, but her rap sounds like all the rest, which is only boring. You may not believe this, but I might buy her music if she was singing, but I know I never will as long as she prefers to be only a rapper. Simply put, the two ‘artal’ forms are not ‘comparablistic’ at all. Oh well, perhaps she will grow into standing in her full voice as opposed to sitting in it. (My impression of that rap sound currently so popular.) Something to look forward to should I be so lucky as to live so long.

    • Feedback28

      I’d disagree with her rap sounding like ‘all the rest’ and I’d challenge anyone to call out specific songs on her albums as only rap vs only singing.  Oh, and if she identified as only a singer, I likely would have never given her a listen. 

    • Beez

      I guess I can’t disect your dribble to understand if you’re trying to discredit rap as an artform and emcees as artists. If you are…you are out of your mind. Many rappers are modern day geniuses. But people who don’t give it the respect it deserves would never know that because they have no idea who people like Black Thought are

    • untitleddraft

      Wow, you’re an angry curmudgeon. Ha.

    • Justin

      Dessa’s rap style is about as far from “like all the rest” as I have ever heard.  Her intelligence, thoughtfulness, and wit shines through in every word she speaks.  People would be much happier on this earth if they learn to appreciate something different every now and then.

  • Cambridge_Gent

    Great show, wonderful artist…continuing WBUR/H&N’s tradition of introducing fantastic music to listeners. 

  • SD

    I just bought a song by Dessa, my first one.  It is representative of how much I like Dessa’s music and her person.  What a thoughtful, smart and grounded woman you are Dessa.  Thanks Robin for bringing her on.

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