Following months of anticipation and buzz, Santogold’s self-titled debut proves to be more than just hype. Abandoning her position behind the scenes, Philly native Santi White steps up to the mic with lyrics that explode and beats that don’t’ joke around. Pulling from musical tastes as prolific as her industry connections and leaving comparisons to MIA and Gwen Stefani in the dust, Santi manages to outshine them both with her poetic ingenuity.
While driven by Santi’s undeniable urge to articulate herself, this is by no means a solo effort. Santogold features multitudes of production credits and guest appearances leading to a diverse style that defies any genre classification. Regardless, Santi is the star of the show. Over heavy electronic beats, weaving baselines, reggae grooves and more, she declares herself as a force to be reckoned with and never underestimated. Don’t fight the urge to dance, but don’t dismiss the message as her artistic cockiness, although not completely original, is entirely convincing.
The opening song, “LES Artistes,” reveals the passion that created this album and with short-lived vulnerability in the hook, Santi admits – “I can say I hope it will be worth what I give up.” By the second track, she’s found her razor-sharp edge and there’s no turning back. Her voice is dexterous and she adapts to the various styles skillfully, even transcending nationality with subtle changes in accent. She flexes her attitude in turn as a smart-ass child in “Shove It” and a seductress in “My Superman.” It’s easy to see how her fast-talking vocals on the fuzzy “Creator” elicits comparisons to MIA, but don’t expect to hear it in any of the other songs. The remix of “You’ll Find a Way” is just one example of what will happen once DJs discover how to utilize the catchy hooks in her vocals. She sings, croons, yells, whispers, and her electronic howl on “Anne” will haunt your dreams.
Despite the absence of a song that truly showcases the extent of her rhyming skills (only glimpsed in “Creator”), Santogold is a ravishing debut from an artist who is, in her own words, unstoppable.