Popular music has seen its fair share of ludicrous and egotistic whoops-a-daisy quotes that accidently diffuse from the deepest, darkest caves of a musician’s mind box and onto social networking sites and publications of the music world. Sure, Korn, you probably were dubstep before there was even dubstep. And of course, Kayne, you are bigger than Elvis Presley, you are, but it doesn’t stop you from sounding like a bunch of absolute knob heads. However, there are those statements from musicians which grab your attention, sending alarm bells relentlessly ringing concerning the corruption in the music industry today. In a recent interview with Pitchfork, Santi White a.k.a. Santigold revealed that she was “disappointed with the state of music right now” and in a world where One Direction’s first US single sells faster than The Beatles first American release, I’m quite positive that she’s not the only one. In the interview she joked about the pure criminality of LMFAO playing the Super Bowl: “Aren’t they a joke band? That type of shit makes me cry. I’m like, “Really”?” … and anyone who bad-mouths LMFAO is more than alright with me.
The point is, there’s so (too) much to a successful artist these days and for some reason*, the foundations of musical talent/taste/virtue get lost under an enormous rider of Manuka honey, lemongrass tea and diamond-encrusted headphones, left to rot away and become feral in an environment in which they used to rule. Santigold’s second album, Master of My Make Believe emphasises being in control of a personal world and future; having the self belief not to allow yourself to be sculpted into something ugly. Embodying exotic fantasy, aggressive surrealism and dream-like splendour, listeners are invited to listen to the metamorphosis of Santogold into Santigold.
White’s debut self-titled album Santogold, released in 2008, was mind-numbingly chaotic, indulgently fresh and expended more energy than a seven year old child with ADHD dizzily drowning in a bathtub of Red Bull. The critics were bowled over by a rebellious, independent female that could rival M.I.A. and with debut single ‘Creator’ accompanying an iconic VO5 advert, word about Santi White was quickly getting ‘round on the street.
After four solid years and self-confessed writer’s block, Master of My Make Believe is White’s first album since her debut LP and that pesky lawsuit invoking a wee vowel change. Yep… Santigold was sued by a singing jeweller. Recalling the likes of Diplo, Switch and John Hill who worked on Santogold, White’s also had a helping hand from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ guitarist, Nick Zinner. Not one to slack, White has filled her production room full with a cavalcade of claustrophobically talented artists on Master of My Make Believe, combining together to create the sound of real pop music.
First track ‘Go!’ features Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ frontwoman, Karen O, with a song that ventures into the realms of the “new” American dream and explores how, in 2012, fame is accepted as a repercussion of sex tapes and reality television. ‘Disparate Youth’ is an undeniable stand-out track and smartly released “proper” first single from the LP, tickling the same fancy as Santogold’s ‘L.E.S Artistes’. The gentle, dreamy percussion and bass offer a spectacular contrast to the domineeringly deep vocals and frantically jagged guitars amongst an offbeat reggae tone.
There are two clear voices to Santi White. The first: a playful, mischievous critter who pokes fun at pop stars, as with “Ga-ga-ga, all slightly off/Not me, I’ll take the loss”. Unpredictable and unconventional, she’s a ticking time bomb waiting to blow up in society’s face. Cue the loud, obnoxious concluding tracks ‘Look at These Hoes’ and ‘Big Mouth’ where we’re reminded not to take ourselves too seriously. The second: a woman determined not to give up her artistic flare and conform to the artificial conventions of pop success shown in the form of ‘This Isn’t Our Parade’, ‘The Riot’s Gone’ and ‘The Keeper’.
White has stuck to her guns with Master of My Make Believe, proving her dedication to music as art as opposed to a money-making gimmick. Exploring a variety of genres, techniques and instruments, her second effort is just as electric, if not better and more intriguing, than Santogold which is a bloody hard target to exceed.
Second album syndrome? Pah, that phrase isn’t even in Santigold’s dictionary.