Dessa @ Crescent Ballroom
June was an incredible month for hip-hop releases, with new records by Kanye West, Mac Miller, J. Cole, and Quasimoto, among others, hitting the market. The downside to the deluge of hype was the failure to acknowledge the world-class work of Dessa. The Minneapolis-based MC (and slam poet and author), born Margret Wander, issued Parts of Speech, her third record, on June 25. Like A Badly Broken Code, her stunner of a debut, Parts is heavy on the range: Dessa uses the album to alternate among the roles of regretful softy, wise narrator who glides over human scenery, and cocksure fire-starter who is ready for a confrontation if necessary. Beats crackle, weep, whir, sway, levitate, and wink. Dessa's overarching thesis statement is that she doesn't have a thesis statement — or at least none imposing enough to follow closely on Parts —but her potency has always come from projecting a chameleonic, three-dimensional character. She also happens to be the smartest and most affecting vocalist in Doomtree, a close-knit clique that constitutes the crown jewel in Minneapolis' thriving indie hip-hop scene. Considering just how stacked with talent Doomtree is, that's quite the testament to this perennial underdog.
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