The funny thing is, after we broke up, I told her, "I'll come down and see you. I'll come down to Texas rapping."
Dessa: I have this thing where I get really wrapped up in guys, and tend to really invest myself in what they're doing. So I remember dating this guy, and we broke up, and I was like, "I'll show you!" And I think at first I wanted to be successful in the least attractive way, just to spite him. You know what I mean? I think I just wanted to have that moment from the stage where I was like, "I did it." Okay, let's move on, this is making me depressed.
Cecil Otter: No, it's funny, because spite really drives you. A lot of people in this world work off spite. For somebody who didn't have the best dad or mom, or whatever, spite is a great driver.
Dessa: Some of the biggest things I've done, I've done from spite. But I feel like I want to do better than spite. I feel like at some point, I'd like to be moving toward something instead of running away as fast as I can.
Cecil Otter: That'll happen, but you need something to get you there.
Dessa: What are you finding most satisfying or least satisfying about rap?
Cecil Otter: The things that make me really happy now are the songs I can hear over and over again and relate to. Slug does that a lot for me. So does Sage [Francis]. They allow you to come in and feel what they're feeling. Some people may think it's emo or this or that, but hearing that stuff makes me feel really good.
Dessa: We were talking about this, about bravado. Think of all the human feelings that are going to have some real longevity. The "I'm better than you" sentiment is not one of them.
Cecil Otter: It means nothing to me at all. I mean there's a million ways you can go about it, but you're still walking up to somebody and being like, "I'm better than you." Oh. Good for you.
Dessa: So why do you think you and I have come together to collaborate?
Cecil Otter: I don't know. It fits. We both think about every single word.
Dessa: We're both heavy editors. We have differences, but we're both very writerly.
Cecil Otter: You went from being in spoken word, where people weren't putting their hands up while you were doing it. I've always felt weird about making people put their hands up, because I've spent so much time with the writing, making sure I'm getting this feeling out right. The type of person I am, I don't enjoy a lot of attention, but I enjoy writing. I was looking for an almost Beatnik vibe. So what was important about you releasing your first False Hopes?
Dessa: Although it was not part of my objective, I was very conscious of the fact that there are not many female rappers in this scene. I was a little bit conscious about representing. My personality is a little bit academic, considerably depressive, goofy, and full of some serious anger. I had to try to find a way to get across some of those impulses without affectation. I think if you're not angry at something, living in America right now, then you're not paying enough attention. Anger, and sometimes hurt, is an appropriate response to the world in which we live.