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FFF Fest review: Dessa

Staff Writer
Austin 360

By Ramon Ramirez

Editor’s note: This article was originally published November 10, 2013

Dessa is a brilliant and talented rapper, but the Minneapolis-raised spoken word purist is buried by her student dedication to the language of hip-hop—the poetics, specifically. She writes books, punch lines and extended metaphors; she’s the type of artist that teaches classes about rap’s literary parallels. That blogs. The trade off is expressionist charisma that emphasizes being zoned out on cough syrup and honing in on the drive—as opposed to obsessing about the destination. To that end, she fits perfectly with the dead poets on P.O.S.’s Doom Tree label. There’s a punk influence in those frigid recordings and

Sunday at the Blue Stage, Dessa artfully colored inside the lines between “crowd-storming performance art” and “Evanescence.” Her bass guy played an electric stand up bass; her drummer looked like a member of The Hold Steady with a tilted ball cap as a genre passport. But Dessa won me over when the emcee jumped into the crowd, shouted along with her most ardent sympathizers and climbed back onstage over the barriers. “Everybody turn away,” she joked. More importantly, lost in the crowd I identified no less than 12 awkward teenagers singing, rapping along, connecting. That’s where the rubber meets the road.