OG Inspiration: Dessa Darling


What to do when inspiration goes dark.

En route to NYC for a little inspiration, wearing my favorite formerly lost necklace.

I’ve been thinking about inspiration lately, mostly because I lost mine for awhile, like my favorite necklace carved with the latin phrase audaces fortuna iuvat, which means fortune favors the bold.  After scouring every likely compartment, I resigned myself to the fact that it was gone.  Lost forever.  Then, weeks later and hope abandoned, it turned up inside the delicate side pocket of an infrequently used handbag.  My heart leapt.

Not lost forever.  Just hiding out for a while.

For creative types–and that’s everyone really–inspiration is similar.  We wear it proudly for a stretch of time.  It dangles around our necks and glints in the sun.  It goes with every outfit, and we never take it off.  Then, one day, it’s missing–inspiration run out by obligation or looming book deadlines or even heartbreak.  It happens.  It goes with the territory of creating good art or an authentic life.

No one is immune, but there are inspiration triggers you can use to relight your ideas, words, works of art, and heart when they feel dimmed.  In a new series of posts called OG Inspiration, I’ll share my latest favorite sources of light, including people, places, and things that make something flicker for me, and maybe you, too.  First up… The boldest, baddest, most beautifully talented indie musician/philosopher/rapper/poet/producer I’m listening to right now: Dessa Darling, who performed two nights ago in Harvard Square at The Sinclair.

Dessa Darling performing at the Sinclair in Harvard Square, January 13, 2013.

I came upon her music by way of a dear friend who described her thus: “Gangster badass OG type chick.  You if you were a rapper.”  So, a ringing endorsement if ever there was one…

That’s the thing about inspiration, isn’t it?  It lights something completely new and wholly familiar at once.  It makes sense that I would identify with a former philosophy major, current shaper of words, and deliverer of inspiration.  If I ever give a commencement speech (ahem, Loomis Chaffee, University of Richmond, call me?), I could only hope it’s as real and raw and filled with love and insight as the one Dessa gives here, at the University of Minnesota in June 2012.  (Watch it.  You’ll love it; trust me).

So, thank you, Dessa, for giving a killer performance.  Thank you for crawling right down into the crowd and rapping like your life depended on it. Thank you for embracing all your intersecting inspirations, from Greek and Roman mythology, to core philosophers like Kant, to, yes, hip hop.  Thank you for merging them all without (miraculously) diluting any of them.  Thank you for being a bright and bold trigger of inspiration.

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