Brooklyn-based eclectic singer/songwriter, Santogold (born Santi White), debuted with her multi-genre mash up last May, yet, I still feel like I’m a little late on hearing about her. Watch out though cause Santogold is going to blow up and keep the competition heavy for Best Album of The Year. Yep, I said it, I forecast miss Santi White hitting the pop charts knocking Amy Winehouse onto the out list. Luckily, White didn’t participate in the post-millennial celebrity girls gone wild era and instead will serve as a positive role model for girls.
Santogold has been widely compared to M.I.A and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs Show Your Bones era. These comparisons may be justified, however, Santi White manages to transcend the genres of all her influences boiling them into a melting pot of musical alchemy. The result is a fresh sound; each song a glimmering pop gem extracted for the listener weary of repetition. Prior to tracking her own material, White works as an A&R rep for Epic Records and co-wrote material for pop princess Ashlee Simpson among others artists.
As the United States embraces its first minority president, racial discussion will surely remain a hot topic and hopefully continue to evolve into a celebration of the country’s “melting pot” of cultural diversity.
In recent interviews, Santogold is pushing stereotypes applied to her image to the forefront, confronting journalists who assume she listens to R&B and hip hop simply because she is black. While certain tracks off of Santogold’s record are notably influenced by hip hop, dub or reggae, the artist states she is sick of people projecting stereotypes on her musical tastes. In fact, Santi White states she is more influenced by 80’s new wave or punk rock and has little interest in R&B music. Hopefully, after such a confrontation, these journalists bite through their tounge and savor White’s musical menage-a-trois of styles – or at least mandate a rule to listen to a record before making asinine comments due to their neglect of research.
Santogold’s debut opening track “L.E.S. Girls” breaks through with a palm muted guitar arpeggio and mutates into fist pumping power pop enveloped by a catchy sing song melody chanting “I hope It Will Be Worth What I Give Up / If I could stand up for the things that I believe”. The record continues the pace in “You’ll Find A Way”, an anthem which seems to be a smash up of No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom and the political riot of Le Tigre. From here, the album takes a refreshing downward dip into an alt-reggae hip chip on the shoulder groove, “Shove It”, and then transitions into the catchy punk shakedown, “Say Ah Ha”. The ethnic hip hop mantra “Creator” gives journalists pats on the backs for comparing Santogold to M.I.A. – although such a reference point is not especially creative.
One of Santogold’s captivating qualities is her ability to wrestle and fold her voice into many different harmonious personalities. During the album’s midpoint track, “My Superman”, she plays a provocative persona reminiscent of the sensuous smoke-in-mirrors curled lip of Siouxsie and the Banshees.
It is hard to pick a favorite tune on such an impressive diverse record that flows together seamlessly. Perhaps it is Santi White’s wide range of musical influences or her experience writing a handful of songs for “people in the biz” that makes this record such a refreshing hit maker in my book. Regardless, I encourage you to follow Santi White’s advice and throw away your whole record collection and buy this record….or at least just buy the record.