Dessa: A Role Model for Everyone
    • FRIDAY, MAY 04, 2018

    • Posted by: Emma Dugas

    Our fearless leader Beyonce said it best: "Who runs the word? Girls!" Sure would be nice if it actually felt that way. There's the pay gap, sexual harassment in the work place...the list goes on and on. But one thing is for sure; women are continuously overlooked, underrepresented, and abused by society.

    One artist who's hellbent on exposing thoughts on gender inequality (as well as her own heartbreak) through fierce rapping and singing is Dessa. And she's not afraid to get emotional about it. In a male dominated, disappointingly sexist industry the founding member of the "Mid-west hip hop collective" Doomtree is a role model for us all.

    In addition to her work with Doomtree (not to mention her contribution to the recent Hamilton Mixtape), Dessa has made her biggest strides as a solo artist. She can count four albums to her name, including her most recent Chime.

    According to The Verge, Dessa pulled much of her inspiration for Chime from science, doing some pretty amazing experiments in the process. Dr. Cherly Olman, a professor and brain imaging expert at the University of Minnesota, assisted in taking imagines of Dessa's brain while thinking of a platonic relationship and then again while thinking of a romantic relationship. She discovered those brain images looked very different. Desperately wanting to get over a toxic romantic relationship, she later met up with psychologist Penijean Gracefire to go through electroencephalography (EEG). Gracefire placed electrodes on Dessa's head and had a look at her brain waves. With a new appreciate for what was going on up there, Dessa said, over time, "It just felt like some of the absolute compulsion and total fixation had been leveled down, and the immediacy of all of those crazy-making feelings had dissipated. I just felt chiller." She didn't go all Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind on us, but used the experiments to change her thinking to be more positive and healthy.

    On Chime, Dessa talks about overcoming this negative relationship in her music, showing strength in her vulnerability. On "Velodrome" she opens with the line, "I don't believe/ my will's quite free/ I'm half machine/ at least half steam." She opens up about her cyclical pattern with her ex, and their on-again off-again relationship. In other songs on the album, she's fierce and in some parts, clearly angry, like on "Fire Drills." Discussing gender inequality, the second verse is so compact with an important message. She's got a softer voice on, almost motherly as she raps, "Stay close, hems low, safe inside,/ That formula works if you can live it/ But it works by putting half the world off limits." She then follows up with a softer piece, "Good Grief." This chorus is so true to anyone who is ever missing someone, "They say there's good grief/ But how can you tell it from the bad?/ Maybe it's only in the fact/ Good grief's the one that's in your past.

    In the 45 second song "Shrimp", Dessa continues with the badass vibe she sets up throughout the album. She kills the game with the ending lines, "I mostly gave more than I got/ Tried not to watch the ticking clock/ Always a bridesmaid/Never an ASTRONAUT!" Not only is she talking about her personal relationship, but she does so with a totally relatable feeling. "Shrimp" is accompanied by a fun schoolyard-like beat.

    Songs like Dessa's are important for everyone. She shows women how strong and powerful we are, and that having emotions doesn't make you weak. Thanks Dessa for being a role model for us all. Your art is empowering and beautiful. We appreciate you in our lives.

    If you want to check out Dessa live, she'll be performing in Brooklyn at Warsaw on 6/29.

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