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One of the most well-rounded members of the Minneapolis-based collective Doomtree, rapper, singer, writer, and speaker Dessa jumped from poetry slams to hip-hop, releasing her debut album A Badly Broken Code in 2010. An underground favorite, she broke onto the Billboard 200 in 2013 with third set Parts of Speech. The U.S. Top Three album Chime arrived in 2018. In 2023, she released her sixth LP, Bury the Lede. Also known as Dessa Darling, the Minnesota artist born Dessa Margret Wander first made a name for herself in the world of poetry slams. Later, she formed the group Medida, which introduced her to the musical scene that made her a critical and popular darling of the Twin Cities. Developing her skills as a writer and artist as both an undergrad and master's student at the University of Minnesota (she would eventually earn both a B.A. and an M.A. in philosophy), Dessa took her passion for spoken word poetry out into the Minneapolis scene, eventually meeting people (MC Yoni in particular) who would lead her to direct interaction, and eventual membership in, the Doomtree collective. Once she established her skills as an MC in the group, Dessa released a solo EP, False Hopes, in 2005. Widely acclaimed by the local press, the EP made a number of year-end critic lists, and established her as the rising star within Doomtree. Over the next few years, Dessa focused on giving back to Doomtree, appearing on countless solo works as well as the collective's group albums. In 2009, she became the first of the bunch to release a book of her written work, entitled Spiral Bound. This upward movement only increased as 2010 saw the national release of her first solo full-length, A Badly Broken Code. The album, having already created a buzz before its release, won an avalanche of critical acclaim and was a brisk seller in her hometown. The rest of 2010 would find Dessa embarking on a 40-city tour with P.O.S. (also of Doomtree) to support the record. She has appeared at a number of local literary events in the Twin Cities and worked with the all-female a cappella group the Boy Sopranos. In 2013, she issued Parts of Speech, which peaked within the Top 100 on the Billboard 200. A remix EP, Parts of Speech, Re-Edited, was issued the following year. In 2016, she contributed the song "Congratulations" to the chart-topping The Hamilton Mixtape. She issued her fourth LP, Chime, in early 2018. Dessa's next project was a unique live album called Sound the Bells which was recorded at Orchestra Hall and featured backing by the Minnesota Orchestra. In 2021, she released a pair of EPs (I Already Like You and Ides), continuing with singles "Blush" in 2022 and "Hurricane Party/Chopper" in 2023. That same year, she released her sixth full-length, Bury the Lede.
© Chris True /TiVo


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