Arts and Culture

Santigold's New Album Ain't Make-Believe

And you can drop the M.I.A. comparisons, too.

By Michael Mann 24 May 2012 |

Michael Mann is a freelance editor and writer. He enjoys Jack Daniels, Neck Face and sadistically violent horror movies. You can stalk him through his website or Twitter.

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Santigold clearly has a taste for minimalism.

It's pretty lazy to compare Santigold to M.I.A. because, really, aside from their sex, their style, their fan base, their skin having more melanin that white people's, the producers they work with, their music constantly being described as genre-bending, their collaborating together occasionally, and their sharing the same dentist -- they don't have much in common.

Born and raised in Philadelphia and with roots in music industry A&R and punk -- her band Stiffed was produced by a member of Bad Brains -- Santogold first appeared on the scene in 2008 with a genre-bending self-titled debut. With tracks like "Lights Out," "Say Aha," and her biggest hit, "L.E.S. Artistes," she never seemed like a poor man's M.I.A. who was merely a remora attaching itself to a larger and much more annoyingly political sea beast.

In 2009, she changed her name from Santogold to Santigold because of the guy singing the song in this video... I'm not shitting you. Santo Gold, of course has a website, and is currently looking for an executive producer to re-release the 1985 science fiction, space wrestling movie Blood Circus, where he performed his hit, "Santo Gold." The trauma of dealing with Santo Gold is why it took four years for a new album, clearly.

It was worth the wait. Her latest genre-bending album Master of Make-Believe -- which bends the genres of dub, new wave, pop, and hip hop -- is fantastic. From singles like "GO!", which features Karen O, and the latest one "Disparate Youth," to gems "The Keepers" and "Fame," Master of Make-Believe is better than her debut and a great summer soundtrack.

On a visual level, she's keeping things incredibly fresh as well. A portrait of Santigold by Kehinde Wiley -- who's famous for his large, heroic and classically painted portraits of African American men -- is featured on the cover. Santigold was actually his first painting of a woman, ever. And the video for the album's second single, "Big Mouth", is directed by Cody Critcheloe aka SSION, another shit hot New York art star.

She's rolling into town this Saturday, May 26, and certainly puts on a show worth slapping down a few ducats to see. I happened to catch her in London shortly after her debut came out and felt only slightly cheated paying $45 to see someone with 41 minutes of original material (oh London, how I miss you gouging me). But now she's got two solid albums worth of material and, if you're still not sold, there's even an interesting local connection as her opener, Trevor "Trouble" Andrew, is her husband and a former Whistler resident and Olympic snowboarder.

Enjoy Master of My Make-Believe while you can, though, as M.I.A. has a new one looming. Slated for a release this summer, begin mentally preparing yourself for the slew of annoying temper tantrums and publicity stunts that predictably happen whenever an outspoken pop star releases a new album. But you'll be okay, you've already got yourself the perfect summer lover with Santigold. Like my father told me, whenever you're presented with two attractive and talented women, always choose the one with less baggage.

Master of My Make-Believe is out now on Warner. Santigold plays The Commodore on May 26.  [Tyee]

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