Release Date: May 1, 2012
Record label: Atlantic
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Electronic, Alternative Dance
Santigold is a style-magazine editor's fantasy come to life. Her second LP is an impeccably fashionable art-pop hodgepodge: hopped-up dance rock, dub clatter, turbulent post-punk ballads. The production credits include a couple of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio, and Diplo. But who is Santigold? Too often, she's a blank.
The second half of Master—and it really does feel like you’re flipping wax at track six—completely embraces Santigold’s twisted retro aesthetic. “This Isn’t Our Parade” is a mid-tempo burner that pulls at the heart, although the lyrics aren’t so revealing. That’s followed by “The Riot’s Gone,” a lovely piece that seems to be more about a relationship than an actual riot.
SantigoldMaster of My Make-Believe[Atlantic; 2012]By Rob Hakimian; May 3, 2012Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetA lot can be taken from Master of My Make-Believe’s cover art. Upon it, Santigold appears four times, once in painted form, once as a powerful looking male, and twice as twin scantily-clad bodyguards. The braggadocio that was rife on 2008 debut album Santogold songs like “Shove It” and “Creator” is in this image, but it’s much more subtle and elegant, and it’s only one part of the image; there’s plenty of detail and playfulness to it too, and the same is true in the music on the album.
Frontwoman Santi White has taken on the face of Santigold for Master of My Make-Believe, as depicted in the album's artwork, which finds her portraying all four characters (even the mustached man that sits front and center). John Hill continues to co-write, but with White gaining pop star status, he takes the back seat, as they enlist the help of A-list producers Diplo, Switch, Boyz Noise, Buraka Som Sistema, TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek, Ricky Blaze, and Q-Tip. Multi-instrumentalist Greg Kurstin (Beck, Flaming Lips) and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs also make a huge impact on the sound of the record, with Karen O contributing vocals on the leadoff "Go!" and Nick Zinner scattering delicious guitar texture across the tracks.
In the mercurial hyper-reality of internet music culture, four years can feel like an eternity. Yesterday’s over-hyped ‘next big thing’ quickly becomes today’s snarky punchline—think Lana Del Ray—or simply falls victim to our ever shortening memories and attention spans. Four years ago, Santi White’s debut album as Santogold, with the impossibly catchy hooks of “L.E.S.
The caliber of the first two singles from Santigold’s Master of My Make-Believe have been as wildly varied as the semi-historical personas that dot the album’s cover. Over a year ago, unbeknownst album opener “GO!” arrived out of nowhere with a mysterious blend of horror-movie howls and double-time beats and a muddy Karen O interlude—a reminder of Santigold’s art-pop capabilities. Then “Big Mouth” touched down earlier this year in tandem with a bizarre, low-budget video, and as Matthew Cole noted, the track’s derivative reggae-fusion swagger seemed to indicate that producer Switch had lazily recycled the sounds of Major Lazer, his collaboration with Diplo.
SANTIGOLD plays Kool Haus May 15. See listing. Rating: NNNN It's been an excruciating four-year wait for Santi White's sophomore record. Early singles for Master Of My Make-Believe - Go! featuring the indomitable Karen O, and Disparate Youth, a blissed-out rebel yell - indicated that it would deliver in the same supersaturated, genre-blurring, macro-focused way that made her debut feel so important.
One president ago, this genre mixologist captured the prerecession spirit of city-dwelling artistes on her 2008 debut. Oh, how much can change in an administration. Her second disc is still dressed for the dance floor, but now it’s added a layer of riot gear. Master of My Make-Believe‘s disgruntled machine-raging and spiky new-wave rhythms (aided by members of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and TV on the Radio) evoke both the urgency of early U2 and the agit-pop ire of M.I.A.
Santigold’s first album was met with mixed reception, largely due to a hodge-podge of styles leading to a somewhat uneven experience. After a forced name change and a four-year break, she returns with Master of My Make-Believe, a more confident album that sounds more like what fans might have expected. Santigold’s wide range of tastes is still a key element, but this time around, she’s able to blend them all together in a way that’s far more coherent.
Santi White (aka Santigold) could pass for the ageless, shape-shifting Marvel mutant, Mystique. The artist formerly known as Santogold is the ultimate pop chameleon and her followers go way beyond lovers of "Creator," "L.E.S. Artistes" and Bud Light Lime anthem, "Lights Out." Her much-lauded, self-titled 2008 debut left me cold with its somewhat unadventurous wash of dub, dancehall, and electro-pop vibes.
Santi White wants our attention. She’s certainly had it before: Almost every facet of her genre-defying 2008 debut was head-turning, from her brash delivery to the invigorating jolt of originality in her songs to the outlandish cover art that looked like the effects of downing a full bottle of Goldschlager. As Santigold, White’s eclectic approach to crafting her music has always been her calling card, and her new album Master of My Make-Believe is almost as varied as its predecessor in that regard.
Four years ago, when lines between the struggling fringe artists and moneyed pop favorites were drawn more cleanly, Santi White-- then known as Santogold-- played an important role representing the underdogs and the outcasts. "Brooklyn, we go hard/ We on the look for the advantage, we work hard," she sang on "Shove It", the outer-borough banger that Jay-Z eventually rapped over. Part A&R rep (she'd worked at Epic Records and once wrote material for singers like Lily Allen and Ashlee Simpson) and part punk (she fronted a new-wave grunge act from Philly called Stiffed), she wanted the corporate pop machine she mingled with to know she was batting for the creative underclass.
The title of Santigold's second album wears its embattled production with pride. The artist formerly known as Santogold (but actually named Santi White) was the hip revelation of 2008. Writing a follow-up proved tough – never mind the writer's block, White's new label wanted chart-friendly hits, trusted producer Diplo was busy with Beyoncé's album and an expanding creative cast (Greg Kurstin, Nick Zinner and Ricky Blaze among others) needed bedding in.
In 2008, Santigold – then with an O instead of the I – grabbed attention with the skewed indie dream-pop of songs such as LES Artistes, Say Aha and Creator. At the time it felt offbeat and new, squashing genres together to exuberant effect. There's an argument to be made that, in the four years since, music has gone entirely mad, and the madness has gone mainstream, with everyone from Grimes to Nicki Minaj pursuing dogged eccentricity.
Santi White starts her sophomore album with explosive momentum, opening with a Karen O collaboration appropriately titled “GO!”—the full caps and exclamation point are necessary to demonstrate how hard and fast it hits—featuring an incessant drum beat and nutty, high-pitched electronic vocals singing backup to her tribal rap-chanting. What comes after on Master of My Make-Believe lands with a bit of a thud in contrast; lots of filler propped up by a few far-out pop jams, possessing as many ups and downs as her 2008 debut record. .
You certainly couldn't accuse Santi White of following the standard path of even the vaguest pop artists. Being asked by her label 'Where are the hits?' while recording Master of My Make-Believe, her response was to actively shun the suggested RedOne, David Guetta and LMFAO and debunk to Jamaica. As we likely all would if we had even the slightest option to escape the shuffling epidemic.
Waiting four years between the release of a debut and sophomore album has become a bad omen for countless artists. Many reside in the comfort of their debut’s success for too long, making any attempt at redefining their career unimaginable. For Santigold, moniker of Santi White, the delay between her 2008 self-titled debut and this year’s Master of My Make-Believe has been attributed to label issues, songwriting issues, touring, and so on.
Genre-bending songwriter Santigold (then Santogold) hit the scene in 2008 with her self-titled debut LP, a daringly diverse effort that mixed pop and dance music sensibilities with sleek rap production values. The only thing bigger than her impact was the resulting hype generated for her sophomore offering. Now, four years and countless delays and false starts later, Master Of My Make-Believe is finally upon us.
Four years ago, with the release of her debut album Santogold, Santi White was a blast of hip-hop, post-punk, rap and electronica. Since that breakthrough, the singer-songwriter/producer has collaborated with a dazzling array of talent including Kanye West, Nick Zinner, Lykke Li, Spank Rock, Beastie Boys and Amadou & Mariam, as if to ram home her fierce eclecticism. Like M.I.A, with whom she has previously toured toured, White - now calling herself Santigold, using an 'i' after a legal run-in with a pedantic filmmaker - appears resolute in defining her own career path.
On her sophomore LP, the singer proves she can still churn a pop groove. Marcus J. Moore 2012 In 2009, this writer witnessed Santigold (real name, Santi White) unleashing her brand of reggae pop fizz at The Roots’ Picnic in Philadelphia, PA. Dressed in a sleek purple and white jumpsuit, she confidently pranced as her two dancers — both expressionless, in gold jackets and black pants — gyrated on opposite sides.
Four years and one name change removed from her electric debut Santogold, Santi White returns to push the boundaries of pop music, this time as Santigold. The Philly native and Brooklynite still sells global dance music deeply rooted in big bass and Eighties synth pop, but Master of My Make-Believe takes a more subtle approach than its predecessor. Monster club bangers that sparked a million M.I.A.
Santigold just can’t win. In the four years since her addictive first release, the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based songstress has seen everything that was so wonderfully off-kilter about that album become somewhat commonplace, from the production by Diplo to her New York art-pop aesthetic. Her new disc seems to continue on the same path as if no time had passed.