Dessa - Crescent Ballroom - July 11Last month was an absolute juggernaut for hip-hop releases, with new records out from Kanye, Mac Miller, J. Cole, and Quasimoto, among others. The downside to the flood was the world-class work of Dessa getting overlooked in the wave of hype. 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 between the roles of regretful softy, wise narrator who glides over human scenery and cocksure fire-starter who is ready for a confrontation if you really want to go there. 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 no one imposing enough to follow closely on Parts--but her potency has always come from projecting that three-dimensional, chameleonic character.
She also happens to be the smartest and most affecting vocalist in Doomtree, her close-knit clique who are a crown jewel in Minneapolis' thriving indie hip-hop scene. Considering just how stacked with talent Doomtree are, that's quite the testament to this perennial underdog. --Reyan Ali