Artist of the year runner-up: Dessa

  • Updated: December 25, 2010 - 12:32 PM

She put out one of this year's most critically heralded and artfully envisioned local albums.

Dessa

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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DESSA

She put out one of this year's most critically heralded and artfully envisioned local albums, one that would have made her an artist of the year contender even if that's all she did in 2010. But she accomplished that in January.

It's staggering to recount everywhere Dessa, 29, landed this year. Best known as the lone female rapper in Minnesota's second-best-known hip-hop crew, Doomtree, she took her act on the road with P.O.S. in the spring and the entire gang this fall, playing to roomfuls of kids who had never seen a woman rap.

Locally, the Minneapolis native born Maggie Wander broke new ground at the Guthrie, curating and hosting the theater's well-received Cadence Hip-Hop Series with her new, jazz-spiked live band. She also signed on as the Artist in Residency at McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, where her lectures were part performance and part kicks in the rear. One lesson she hammered on was the modern art of self-promotion, which she applied to other Doomtree projects. She also lent her vocal talents to records by Paper Tiger and Gayngs.

Her own album was still her biggest feat, though. Titled "A Badly Broken Code" and compared by national critics to Lauryn Hill and even Joni Mitchell, it showed she can sing, write (she had a poetry book, too) and tell evocative tales in addition to rap. But boy, can this woman rap.

CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER

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