Album Review: Dessa – A Badly Broken Code (2010)

Album Review: Dessa – A Badly Broken Code (2010)

Rating: 4 out of 5 Potholes

Maybe it’s something in the water. Maybe it’s something in the air. Whatever it is, there’s something in Minneapolis that churns out great hip-hop artists at an astonishing rate. Of course by now everyone knows about Rhymesayers, and with the success of P.O.S., many people have finally given the Doomtree crew the attention it deserves. Out of the nine-member Doomtree crew comes Dessa, the lone female of the lot, with her debut solo LP, A Badly Broken Code.

In reality, A Badly Broken Code is only a debut in its technicalities. Dessa is well schooled in her craft, and far more polished and refined than the debut title indicates. With years of poetry and writing in her background, Dessa brings thought and detail to every corner of her album. Her songwriting makes evident her roots in spoken word, as she uses vivid language that may at times be esoteric to many listeners. As impressive as the lyrics are, what is most remarkable is Dessa’s delivery. She transitions from rapping to singing (yes, she is a more-than-worthy singer) with ease, fitting her voice to the exact mood of the given track.

Dessa received assistance on the album’s production from Big Jess as well as fellow Doomtree members Paper Tiger, Lazerbeak, Cecil Otter and MK Larada. Together they crafted a backdrop that is sonically cohesive, giving the album a fantastic flow and sense of progression. Melancholy guitars, shifting drums that pick up just as soon as they drop out, and atmospheric keys all melt together, leaving the listener with a slight feeling of uneasiness. “Mineshaft II” is a fantastic example of how the production matches Dessa with such precision, as she details a haunting love story.

A Badly Broken Code is a bold statement – one that exudes a certain grit and toughness, yet remains fragile at its core. And that’s the key here. Dessa is working with personal and emotional material, and her honesty and vulnerability make this album a pure delight.

6 thoughts on “Album Review: Dessa – A Badly Broken Code (2010)

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  1. Well, I think the album is nice. The music is really good and it is really nice to listen to. My siblings really like this kind of music.

  2. really like this album

  3. kma399 – Thanks for the comment; it’s greatly appreciated. This album really does have great material, so I’m glad we could turn you onto it. As for Elemental Zazen, I just had the opportunity to speak with him again a few days ago, and he’s got some major plans in store for this year, so be sure to keep your eyes and ears open. Peace.

  4. Just wanted to thank you for reviewing this album; I probably would have never come across it otherwise. No prejudice intended, but I just don’t generally tend to feel female hip hop artists. That said, I just listened to this album two times in full and it is excellent. Your review is spot on.

    This site continues to clue me in on some excellent hip hop music (you guys also let me on to Elemental Zazen, whose “the glass should be full” LP may be one of my favorite albums of the last few years). Thanks again. One love!

  5. Finally, a full length from Dessa! And it’s good, indeed. Yet another solid Doomtree album.

  6. Got this a week ago, and the first 3/4 of the album is on point. It kind of tails off towards the end, but definitely deserving of a 4/5. It’s one of the few hip-hop albums that can go from rap to R&B and back again without missing a beat, which is one of those things that can only really be accomplished when it’s performed by one artist.

    Just wanted to throw out that she was a guest on “Low Lights Low Life” off of P.O.S.’s “Never Better”. I know a lot of people who heard that track and wanted to hear a lot more of her.

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