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"The future of music, today" - Rolling Stone 10 Artists To Watch. "Singing in a haunting, sensual wail...she adds a layer of softness to an unusual mix of synthesizers, dance hall rhythms, and percolating new wave" - NY Times. "Future-pop princess...next big thing" - Spin. "Santi White is Santogold...the collaborators and players may change, the sounds may shift, but at the center is one woman's indelible vision" - The Fader. SXSW / Coachella shows, 2007 tours with Bjork, M.I.A., songs featured in Entourage, Grey's Anatomy, Grand Theft Auto.
Don't call Santi White an R&B artist: on her debut album Santogold, this former music biz A&R and pop songwriter for hire is challenging race stereotypes and playing fast and loose with genre, mashing up dub, punk, and electronics to make an energetic, anger-fuelled music that blurs the lines between the dancefloor and the moshpit. Comparisons to MIA hold some water, especially on the bullish "Creator" (it's worth noting that Santogold features production turns from sometime MIA collaborators Diplo and Switch). For the most part, though, Santogold's debut follows a quite different path. "L.E.S Artists" is stirring new-wave pop that builds to grand, tearful choruses reminiscent of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, while "You'll Find a Way" and "Say Aha" are propulsive ska-pop numbers that hark back to its creator's previous band, Bad Brains-influenced punks Stiffed. But it's not just skilful genre-skipping to recommend this record, though: White is the rare vocalist that can sound empowered and vulnerable within the space of the same song, and it's her force of character that places Santogold ahead of the pack. --Louis PattisonSee all Editorial Reviews
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You'll Find A Way
I'm A Lady
If you are a fan of M.I.A. I would highly suggest checking out Santogold if you don't already know who she is. So young and so full of talent. If you ever have a chance to see her live don't even question it just go! She sounds JUST as amazing live as she does recorded. Her shows are a dance party for sure!! Not to be missed. I hope you all love her as much as I do!
I hope that Rolling Stone was practicing their prolific powers when they declared that Santogold was the "future of music" because I could totally get all wrapped up in this new wave of artistry. For the record, I am not a gigantic fan of M.I.A., an artist who Santogold happens to draw comparisons to. I mean, I like M.I.A., but I find that overall her style overshadows any real substance and her work resembles the early stages of a well intentioned experiment.
Santogold fine-tunes that same experiment, with stunning results.
A flawless mix of punk, industrial, jazz, ska, R&B, hip-hop, dance, techno, African tribal and just about anything else you can think of, Santogold's self titled album is the definition of music. Santi White's vocals are nothing short of tantalizing, simply haunting in their almost eerie sense of provocative sensuality.
You are intrigued as much as you are cautious.
For me, there are a few prime standouts. Both versions of `You'll Find A Way' are just stunning, especially the album version, which for me feels a bit more organic. The punk rock overtones are flawlessly incorporated into Santi's vocal stylings, creating something so absorbing and engaging; and that chaotic burst of chorus chanting is just the epitome of captivating. The `Switch and Sinden Remix' plays on the Indian influences that are prominent in Santi's exotic voice, but it adds a nice twist with the industrial take of hip-hop beats that just make for a brilliant variation of a brilliant song. `Creator' is very much along these lines of greatness, using fun and unique beats to stir excitement in the listener.
Santi certainly delivers the explosion!
`Say Aha' almost feels like a Sublime song in tone, but there is certainly hip-hop influences that flourish here and there. `L.E.S. Artistes' calls to mind Sting and The Police, and the vocals even remind me a tad of Gwen Stefani. This is certainly a pop inspired track that is destined for radio play, and it shows a more commercial side of Santogold, since the remainder of the album basically throws `commercial' to the wind.
`Shove It' took a while to really grow on me (I initially found the repetitive chorus to be rather annoying) but the blues style jazz flow immediately caught my interest and made me give the song more of my attention. The lyrical message is also quite stirring, and after a few listens it has slowly crept up to the middle of my list. `Unstoppable' can get a little repetitive in parts ("I've got to be unstoppable") but the musical arrangement is so catchy and engaging. `Lights Out' is possibly the only song that hasn't really grown on me. The feel is very different (light girl pop indie rock) and while it's far from a bad song, it just doesn't really mesh with the rest of the album to me and kind of becomes forgettable.
`I'm a Lady' feels similar in ways to `Lights Out', but it also feels a little more polished. It also feels like it plays to subtle R&B influences that make it feel a little more connected to the album, even though this album is really all over the place when it comes to influences.
Two of the best songs on the album sandwich the one forgettable track (`Lights Out'). `My Superman' and `Starstruck' are just brilliant. I love the mellowed out vibe to `My Superman', an eerie chemistry with the sound coming through from every aching word. This is one of those song that `transports' you to a totally different place. `Starstruck' is similar in tone, playing off of Santi's enticing vocal display. She heightens her pitch and creates her own instrument, complemented by the twitchy beeps and sounds that litter the backing beats.
The album closer (unless you count the remix of `You'll Find A Way' as the closer) is just stunning. `Anne' puts all of the best Santogold has to offer on display, offering a subtle yet absorbing beat laced with enticing vocals and haunting lyrics.
Not since Robyn's self titled mind-blow have I been this completely provoked by a particular album. Sure, there are a few albums that I've reviewed recently that I may prefer overall (V.V. Brown's debut album `Traveling Like the Light' is exceptionally perfect), this is one of the most interesting, experimental and admirable albums I've heard in a long time, and should prove to be a masterful jump off point for this extremely talented artist!
1) You'll Find a Way (both versions)
4) My Superman
6) Shove It
7) L.E.S. Artistes
8) I'm a Lady
9) Say Aha
11) Lights Out
It is said that Athena sprang fully grown from the crown of Zeus, a walking embodiment of his intellect and wisdom. I wouldn't be surprised if Santi White had a similar, outlandish origin....if somewhere in Brooklyn, the eddying currents of the above mentioned musical genres coalesced into actual human form.
It's fun to listen to this woman's music, not only because of the clever craftsmanship of her lyrics and her pleasant, powerful voice, but also because it's a blast trying to discern the various aesthetic threads wending their way through the tapestry of each and every song.
Each tune has a different recipe, of course, but like the ubiquitous olive oil and basil of Mediterranean cuisine, the primary ingredients are always there in some measure or another. The ever-popular "Lights Out", for example, seems to be about 50% Cars, 25% Desmond Dekker, and another 25% Tenor Saw, adding up to 100% Santogold. Like some sort of delicately-balanced, sentient ecosystem, the talented Ms. White manages to keep all of these seemingly disparate elements perfectly balanced, existing in one space in unqualified orchestral harmony. In fact, she makes such euphonious co-existence seem natural! As if these various musical forms went together as readily and desirably as chocolate and peanut butter.
In this sense, Santi White might be compared to one of those Marvel Comics super-beings who during the course of a single issue manages to absorb and synthesize the powers and abilities of everyone from Wolverine to the Mighty Thor, and in the process becomes virtually unstoppable. But does this mean that her work is derivative? Absolutely not. In fact, much like the legendary John Lennon, White is adept at processing her wide-ranging influences into a stunningly singular and unprecedented end-product. This is in large part what makes sussing out the impact of said influences on each track such a joy and such a challenge.
Am I hearing a dash of David Byrne blended with some Beenie Man and Special Ed to craft the haunting "Starstruck"? A pint of Ninjaman mixed with a quarter cup of Devo to create the bouncy "Unstoppable"? A shade of Tina Weymouth cross-pollinated by Barrington Levy to birth the dark "Say Aha"? A touch of Joe Strummer backed by Julee Cruise to form the driving "You'll Find A Way"? A dash of Patty Donahue stirred into some Cocoa Tea to concoct the plaintive "I'm a Lady"?
As for the often trite and superficial comparisons made by some reviewers to M.I.A. and Gwen Stefani, these are valid only in that all three artists are influenced to one degree or another by similar material. What is often overlooked, however, is that each woman processes her ingredients in radically different ways. To attempt to characterize Santi White as derivative of either of the other two ladies is....well...what's a polite, amazon friendly term for that stuff that comes out the back end of a bull?
Cop this album. You won't be disappointed. Santi White is the future, rooted firmly in the most compelling elements of the past.