Dessa was wrong about what musical collaboration looks like
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Every week on “Make Me Smart,” we ask an expert, celebrity, author or other prominent figure: “What’s something you thought you knew but later found out you were wrong about?” It’s called the Make Me Smart question.
This week, we hear from rapper and singer Dessa, who once wrote an entire track about Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen for Marketplace. Dessa’s a member of the hip hop collective Doomtree and one of the artists who contributed to “The Hamilton Mixtape.”
For a long time in my career, I thought I was a really lousy collaborator. And I was, because I would sit around a table with a bunch of other lyricists, and they were having so much fun. And I was kind of a drag. I was stressed out by the process. I didn’t write as fast as everybody else. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I do have a sort of unattractive sense of territorialism when it comes to words, but I’m a really good collaborator when I’m partnering with people who have really different skill sets. So, in the past 10 to 15 years, I’ve collaborated with the Minnesota Orchestra, and I’ve collaborated with a dentist to make like a retainer that would light up inside my mouth while I sang. So, for me, I’ve reframed the idea of what it means to work with people. It’s less like gathering like minds and similar talents with a shared vision, and instead, it’s a gathering of people with different interests and really varied skill sets to see what kind of new thing we can build together that might have occurred to none of us to build alone.
You can share your answer to the Make Me Smart question by leaving us a voicemail at 508-U-B-SMART or email a voice memo to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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