The MC of Summer

Dessa, her hip-hop highness, on music, fame, and her favorite ways to chill

Q: We’ve named you the MC of summer. How does it feel?
Dessa: Great! I just turned 30. I just wrapped my first headlining tour, out West. I signed a couple of sternums last night. The only thing I don’t like about summer is the allergies—if I did endorsements, I’d do one for Claritin.

Q: Do you have any songs about Claritin?
D: No! For my next album, I’ve been reading Greek and Roman mythology. Turning 30, I’ve been thinking about beauty and vanity, and the story of Narcissus is a good place to start.

Q: Where will we find you this summer?
D: This month, I’m hosting a two-day hip-hop series at the Guthrie Theater, with Aby Wolf, Cecil Otter, and Astronautilus. In August, I’m headlining the West Bank Music Festival.

Q: And between shows?
D: I’m excited about the return of the Walker Art Center’s Music and Movies series. They’ve upped the ante, commissioning a live-music soundtrack for a silent Fritz Lang film. And you’ll find me in the air: My father flies gliders and I sometimes man the stick.

Q: Is that safe?
D: Occasionally we’ll have to land in a cornfield. My dad will seek out the farmer and say, “Here’s $60 for the five rows of corn.” The guy will look around before realizing we fell out of the sky.

Q: What’s your soundtrack to summer?
D: Anything Adele puts out. The same for Lykke Li, the Swedish indie-pop singer.

Q: Got any summer style tips?
D: I’m all about athletic wear: tank tops and Converse All-Stars. And I’m trying to convince my crew that I look cool with my jeans cuffed just below the knees.

Q: What about hot pants? Yes, no?
D: Women with the rear to rock ’em—congratulations. For the rest of us, it’s too dangerous.

Dessa hosts the Cadence music series at the Guthrie Theater’s Dowling Studio July 8 and 9.

Watch videos of Dessa singing and rapping at