If there’s one thing that comes to mind right away when listening to Dessa, it’s a comparison to Lauryn Hill.
The Minnesotan Doomtree artist is a renaissance woman. Coming from a collective known for its alternative hip-hop predilection by way of founder P.O.S., Dessa adds another stratum to what could otherwise quickly be labeled as self-absorbent heartland heartache.
The emcee was spawned out of the spoken word and slam poetry world.
A Badly Broken Code
Dive verdict: 3.5 of 5 stars
And while prose still has a tendency to pour out of Dessa, it’s her rich alto that sets her apart. She’s not forcing the soul into her voice. The girl’s just got some pipes.
Songs such as “Dixon’s Girl,” a tale told through the eyes of a scorned girlfriend, are more like Billie Holiday than a white girl from the Midwest.
Her rhymes, while not as stellar, are formidable and overall entertaining.
As catchy as they are regional, Dessa’s rap influences point toward her former beau P.O.S. and fellow North Star State native Atmosphere. The production on “Matches to Paper Dolls” sounds like a B-side from an Atmosphere record.
And Dessa’s inflection takes a page right out of that group’s guide book. Even the trailer park blues appeal of “Dutch” is reminiscent of early Kid Rock or Everlast. Don’t worry, it’s in a good way.
A Badly Broken Code is stereotypical Minnesota hip-hop in the absolute best way, but it’s also uniquely Dessa.
And that’s what Doomtree breeds: its own strain of distinctive artists.
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