Music / Dessa

But I've learned how to paint my face,
How to earn my keep, how to clean my kill.
Some nights I still can't sleep,
The past rolls back, I can see us still.
You've learned how to hold your own, how to stack your stones,
But the history's thick.
Children aren't as simple as we'd like to think.
—"Children's Work"

Dessa (born Margret Wander) is an underground singer and hip-hop artist from Minneapolis, Minnesota and part of the indie hip-hop group Doomtree. Her lyrics vary from sharp and cutting to poetic and narrative. She is known for the feminist themes in several of her songs and has been described as a mix of Mos Def and Ani DiFranco.

  • 2005 - False Hopes
  • 2010 - A Badly Broken Code
  • 2011 - Castor, The Twin
  • 2013 - Parts of Speech

Her work provides examples of:

  • Age Progression Song: "Children's Work" and "The Chaconne."
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Deconstructed in Alibi, where the narrator is soothing a woman whose husband broke the law.
  • Badass Boast: The entirety of Dutch, The Bullpen, Skeleton Key and Fighting Fish is one.
  • Badass Creed: Seamstress. The creed of the seamstress is "you're pretty in pieces".
  • The Caretaker: Seamstress is a dark take on this.
  • Cool Big Sis: Children's Work was written for her younger brother Max.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Children's Work: "The little mystic, and his handler."
    • Anabelle has her pleading the song's title character to 'come back down'
    • The Man I Knew is a song about a decade-long relationship with a drug addict.
  • Easily Forgiven: Averted hugely in Mineshaft 2 and The Lamb.
  • Friendless Background: Implied in "Children's Work": "Before you came along, I was a lone cub."
  • The Masochism Tango: Matches to Paper Dolls
  • Motor Mouth: When Dessa really gets into rap-mode, she's scarily quick with her rhymes. For example, Matches to Paper Dolls, Mineshaft, Press On.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: Mentioned in Dixon's Girl. Currently the page quote.
  • Sanity Slippage: "If & When" has the narrator burning more and more things to keep the candle alight as she waits for her husband to come home.
  • Second-Person Narration: Mineshalf 2, although it switches to first person in the last verse
  • Secret Keeper: A dark version in The Lamb, where it's implied the narrator covered up a murder for her acquaintance.
  • Sequel Song: "Mineshaft" released on Castor, the Twin deals with a painful break-up. "Mineshaft 2" dealt with the ex calling her up years later and asking for forgiveness.
  • The Smurfette Principle: The Bullpen
  • Take Me Instead: From Children's Work: "When the wagon tipped, I prayed over your body. I asked God to take the damage out on me."
  • True Companions: Crew, which is about her group Doomtree, along with most of her collaborative works with other Doomtree members.
    • From Alibi: "If you ever need a place to sleep tonight, that's what family's for."
  • UST: Go Home
  • We Are as Mayflies: The central theme of Momento Mori.
  • Widow Woman: "If & When".
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: The entirety of Children's Work: "Children aren't as simple as we'd like to think."
  • Your Cheating Heart: Averted in Go Home, where the narrator persuades him to "go home to her, while you still can".