Dessa — the rapper, singer, writer, academic, and all-around polymath — who NPR hailed as a “national treasure,” released her first solo full-length album in five years, Bury the Lede, in September on Doomtree Records.
Now, Dessa is on tour with a date in DC at Black Cat on Saturday, Oct. 21.
Bury the Lede is an 11-track project of hard-hitting rap verses, big, catchy pop hooks, and a couple melancholic tracks.
Dessa (an anthropology and psychology-enthusiast whose 2018 album, Chime, was inspired by neuroscience) conceptualized Bury the Lede as an examination of human nature and mortality. Reflecting on the pleasure-seeking and loss-aversion that define us as a species, the album ultimately endorses a Camus-with-a-lime-twist take on life.
“It’s about indulging in a measure of hedonism even as the threat on the horizon mounts … Survival is, at best, indefinite. So maybe get a cocktail with an umbrella in it,” Dessa said.
Watch the official music video for “Hurricane Party” by Dessa on YouTube:
Over a career that’s taken her from DIY basement hip-hop shows to the stage of Minneapolis’s Orchestra Hall and landed her on TED-Talk soundstage in Hong Kong, Dessa’s work has evolved over the years to incorporate more of her personal pop sensibilities, but the pandemic prompted a reconsideration of her process.
“During Covid, I was surprised to learn that not every step of the extra mile I’d been going was actually serving the project — songs sounded just as good with only 95 percent of the micromanagement. And easing up gave the sound a little breathing room,” Dessa said.
Executively produced with longtime collaborators and friends Lazerbeak (Doomtree, Lizzo) and Andy Thompson (Taylor Swift, Dan Wilson), Dessa and company’s indie-rock, soul, and Swedish-pop inflected rap on Bury the Lede create an album that’s hard to imagine hearing from anyone else. And, despite the wide range of influences, it’s also one of Dessa’s most cohesive albums to date.
The new album leans into the light more than past projects — more moments of levity and abandon, more danceable — but it’s still very much a product of Dessa’s lyrical style, writerly and multi-layered, and meticulous.
W/ Arthur Moon
Saturday, Oct. 21
Doors @ 8pm