7.) Dessa – Castor, the Twin
Dessa’s first full-length, A Badly Broken Code, placed #2 last year in my 2010 list of favorite albums. In case you don’t know, Dessa is the best female rapper on the planet. She can spit battle-rap style or she can weave complex, intricate, literary lyrics in and around torch-singing melodies that she herself sings. She has a wonderful ability seamlessly transition from rapping to singing and back, mid-line. She also writes creative nonfiction (as well as some fiction and poetry), so there’s that.
Castor, the Twin is an album of rearrangements of older material of hers. The songs are rearranged or reinterpreted to fit in the context of a live jazz band. The emphasis on this album is the interplay of Dessa’s own singing with fantastic backup singer Aby Wolf, as well as the thunderous upright bass and live drums. The entire album was recorded not instrument-by-instrument but as a whole band, at once. Old old Dessa tracks like “551” and “Kites” benefit greatly from the saturating bass sound and enhanced melodic approach, while the live guitar adds a new, rockier tension to 2010 songs like “The Crow” and “Mineshaft II.” The highlights are the two least-known songs on the album: “Palace” was originally a track on DJ Paper Tiger’s solo album; this reinterpretation takes away all the electronic sounds and reveals the underlying song to be so emotionally rich. “The Beekeeper” is the only new song on the album, and I’ll let the YouTube link speak for itself. While nearly every song on this album is originally a rap song through and through, this album comes off much more as a jazz-pop album to rival the best that the likes of Norah Jones have ever put out. This album is incredible because the songs are incredible. The only reason that this new release doesn’t place #1 on my list is because it is 99% rearrangements of songs that she’s already released, and because it isn’t all that “new” I don’t think it is fair to rate it any higher than I already do. I contemplated leaving it off the list entirely for that reason, but it is just too damn good to do that.
Originally Posted by Delano
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