Dessa to perform and present at Nobel Peace Prize Forum

Dessa_small pic.jpg
Photo By Kelly Loverud
The 24th annual Nobel Peace Prize Forum is set to take place in Minneapolis on March 1-3, bringing together an impressive group of leaders in the worlds of politics, education, and music. One of the many highlights of the momentous three-day event will be a discussion and short performance by Doomtree's Dessa in the Kennedy Center at Augsburg College on Friday, March 2.

Dessa will give a TED-style presentation titled, "Mic Lines: Art, Ethics, and their Contested Connections," where she will address the rather contentious issue of ethics in hip-hop, and whether or not artists have any special moral responsibilities that come with being in the public eye. Commentary on that topic, and suggestions for her talk are found here. She will follow her discussion with a brief Q&A with the audience, facilitated by MPR's Chris Roberts, as well as a mini-set of songs to close out her special event. General admission tickets for Dessa's presentation can be found here.


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Dessa will draw on her many years of music experience as well as her incisive female perspective to address the challenges that exist within the predominantly male-dominated hip-hop world, and she will offer her take on how that culture needs to adjust to allow for a more unifying, welcoming community for everyone. With the recent proliferation of controversial artists like Odd Future, whose lyrics portray women in a decidedly negative way, it will be interesting to hear Dessa's take, as an informed insider, on the objectionable portrayal of women in rap lyrics and videos.

Dessa has certainly kept busy as of late. In addition to the expansive U.S. tour that she and her Doomtree crew are currently bringing to a close, she also stopped by Chicago's NPR studios to perform a five tracks from Castor, The Twin for Sound Opinions. If these stellar, stirring performances are indicative of what Dessa has planned for her mini-set at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, everyone is in for quite a treat.


Dessa performs "The Chacone" on Sound Opinions from WBEZ on Vimeo.

For a full list of the many enlightening events scheduled to take place throughout the three-day Nobel Peace Prize Forum, including a a noteworthy 50th Anniversary Remembrance Concert for Benjamin Britten's stirring War Requiem at the Ted Mann Concert Hall at the University of Minnesota on Thursday, March 1, check out the program of events here.


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21 comments
Atlas
Atlas

As someone who watched this whole video, the first thing Dessa said was that she was not exceptionally qualified to give this talk, and that she asked Brother Ali and Toki Wright each to give the talk instead of her. They were busy. She killed it anyways. If you think she couldn't do the topic justice...go watch the video

JayRo
JayRo

"....but couldn't this forum have found a couple of female rappers with more credibility and authority on the subject?" HurdyGurdy--Dessa is making a living as a female MC, even though she may not fit the mold you have of what an MC should be.  Or come from.  She's never pretended to come from the corners of North Minneapolis, that's not what her music is about--so why try to put her in that box?  She had found success in going against the grain of misogyny so prevalent in song lyrics today.  She also happens to be relateable and educated, but that only adds to her credibility on the subject.  I would still like to hear your opinion on presenters that would be more credible, in your eyes. 

Chris Challans
Chris Challans

Any idea if this will be uploaded anywhere (or streamed)? I'm really eager to hear this - or better, to see it.

HurdyGurdy
HurdyGurdy

Who better to discuss gender roles in hip-hop than a white woman who's been rapping for 7 years at the suggestions of male musicians? I understand she's relatable (and inoffensive), as a Philosophy-major middle class white person, to many people who think Nobel prizes are important, but couldn't this forum have found a couple of female rappers with more credibility and authority on the subject? But, of course, in order to speak to the Academy, you have to look and sound like you belong there. Thanks white people; we can always count on ourselves to institutionalize art forms and ideas originated from black poverty, then claim that we know what it's about.

nate
nate

this stuff abouthaving a (as in one) spokesperson for the hip hop community is an idea that anygenuine hip hop head will find ridiculous, because any  community memberknows the range of people within it. Any concept of a (one) hip hop communityor nation is today a bit ridiculous.

Further, hip hop was founded on the idea that ANYONE and EVERYONE should usethis medium for a voice. Dessa is not one of those worthless academics, rather a professor in the truest sense of the word (as insomeone with an informed opinion that they are willing to profess to thepublic) IN ADDITION TO being an incredibly dope MC.

Chris Challans
Chris Challans

There may be black "femcees" (not sure why race is relevant at all) with more tenure in hip hop, but when the subject is the role of ethics and whether artists have moral responsibilities, someone who studied ethics in college is a much better candidate to actually give an insightful take on the issue. Not to mention, Dessa is always interesting, funny, and exceedingly articulate. She's the ideal person for this gig.

h.s
h.s

Umm, Dessa is hispanic. And the most established female MC in this town. Get off your racist, sexist high horse you fuck. 

listen_to_it
listen_to_it

Regardless of her race, gender, upbringings, or major in college, I feel she is not the person for this because what she does, while labeled "hip hop", is not hip hop. If you like her, that's cool, enjoy...but just don't call it hip hop.

maybe there isn't an existing genre for what she does and because of that people just plop her into the category of hip hop because they don't know what else to call it. 

HurdyGurdy
HurdyGurdy

"someone who studied ethics in college is a much better candidate to actually give an insightful take on the issue."

Thanks for proving my exact point. So her western philosophy and ethics education make her more qualified to speak on this topic? Perfect bullshit elitism. That's exactly why so many people are suspicious of higher education, because some college grads and professors think their opinion is more valid then people who've actually experienced what they're talking about. I took classes on black culture and it doesn't make me an authority. Dessa is indeed the ideal person to speak to self-absorbed academics and college grads who need the safety of collenge-tongue to absorb any information. She's a safe choice for people who want to believe they're informed, but are too scared to join a cypher on a North Minneapolis corner.

And race is relevant. Not as relevant as culture and class, though I doubt Dessa fills the tradtional qualities of either of those traits either. Hip-hop doesn't exist in a racial vacuum, and she's discussing gender issues in terms of the culture and history.

HurdyGurdy
HurdyGurdy

Why does being the most popular female rapper in the Twin Cities (according to who, by the way? People who listen to the Current?) qualify her as an authority? And why am I a racist or sexist for wanting to hear a black woman's opinion of hip-hop's gender issues? Are you saying that Dessa, who didn't grow up listening to this music and has only relatively recently been involved, is just as qualified to talk about the subtle cultural and racial issues behind the genre as any poor female rapper growing up in New York or Los Angeles?

LP
LP

Wow. whether she's hispanic or white, she could pass for either. That comment wasn't racist. It was a spot-on assessment of her very infantile status in the hip hop community. Not the best spokesperson, regardless of her race. 

Eric
Eric

Totally agree with everything you have said HurdyGurdy.

michael
michael

I think this stream of conversation is forgetting the main issue of Dessa's conference: Misogyny in the Hip-Hop world. The discussion she is presenting goes beyond race qualifications or industry fame. She is qualified to speak on the topic of misogyny as any female artist in the hip-hop world, (mainstream or not) would qualify. The fact that she is a philosophy major would only increase her ability to argue her thesis in this affair, add that to her long standing as a feminist activist in the hip-hop community and the fact that she is a native of Minnesota (where the conference is being held)  makes it is pretty clear why she was chosen to present. 

No she does not represent the "industry"...she represents the metamorphosis that needs to take place inside of it. We all are aware of the sexism that is status quo of mainstream hip-hop. Do you need to be Kanye West or Nicki Minaj to open a discussion on it? I think not. 

HurdyGurdy
HurdyGurdy

My point is not that she's inauthentic as a musician or artist (or that being black would make her more so), but that she's unqualified to speak  with authority on the subject of gender roles in hip-hop because of her lack of exposure to both the culture of origin and the history of the music. How can someone who admittedly doesn't follow the trends of hip-hop truly understand how gender is currently being represented, besides through an academic lens of quoting some rap lyrics then entering feminist and philosophical critque?

Anyways, a black girl growing up in the projects would have a far different understanding of sexism than a middle class "white" person. She'd understand abuse differently, she'd understand promiscuity differently, she'd understand pregnancy and children differently. Class, culture, AND race are all important to this topic.  

People in the "academy" are often able to analyze topics with clarity and complexity, but even people in college know that you're not an authority on a subject just by reading a few books and watching a documentary. Who would you rather hear speak about gay rights in the Ivory Coast - a gay American academic who's never been to Africa, or a gay person who grew up there? It doesn't mean the academic isn't allowed to discuss or think about the issue, just that they're not the most appropriate authority. Western academies, however, have consistently given the soapbox exclusively to their professors and students, and this event is just another example of the majority culture usurping and institutionalizing a distinctly Black American form of expression.

Momo
Momo

I agree that your comment wasn't racist, and I find folks who throw that word around loathsome.  However, your comment takes issue with white academics and the establishment, but your argument actually is actually consistent with everything that's wrong about said communities, namely the self-congrartualtory nature of espousing "diversity".  It wreaks of white guilt.  Would she be a more "authentic" hip-hop artist if she were black or non-white?  If yes is your answer, you may have bought into the intolerance perpetuated by the very establishment you claim to dislike. 

HurdyGurdy
HurdyGurdy

Sorry I didn't find a quote to exactly fit your needs. She's admitted not growing up listening to hip-hop in other interviews, and my greater point is that she chose to rap as a career move, not because of her connection to the genre. Hip-hop didn't become an option for her until someone else suggested it after seeing her at poetry slams. Quit nit-picking. It's ok to like her music, but she's just not a credible representative of the music or culture.

Erik Thompson
Erik Thompson

Just because Dessa didn't have a personal connection to the music community, a perfect voice, or care about trends in hip-hop doesn't support your point that she is somehow not aware of the origins or culture of hip-hop, nor does it state what music she did or didn't grow up listening to.

I think you should attend Dessa's presentation, you would probably learn a thing or two.

HurdyGurdy
HurdyGurdy

"during my teenage years, I didn’t have a personal connection to the musical community" "After graduating, I wanted to make music but was well aware that I didn’t have a technically perfect voice. As it happened, rapping might be the perfect job for a writer with philosophical ideas and a singer without the range for classical fare. "

"To be honest, I don’t keep too close an eye on the trends in hip-hop. I don’t think that as an artist I can learn much from them—although I bet they’d be crucially important to me if I were an investor." from Sadiemagazine.com, article by Susannah Wexler

Doesn't sound like she has much grounding in the origings and culture of hip-hop, does it?

Erik Thompson
Erik Thompson

Just curious why you're so sure that Dessa "didn't grow up listening to this music," HurdyGurdy? Seems like you are making some pretty broad assumptions there.

wendy
wendy

Please make some suggestions of who you'd like to see instead. 

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