Santigold is so cool. That has to be understood for the frenetic energy of ‘Master of my Make-Believe’ to work. Track one, ‘GO!’ hears Santigold, born Santi White, formerly Santogold (all pretty naturally cool) hears her bouncing on the hustled beat “People want my power”. This kind of grandiose production and big balls beats carries on to ‘Disprate Youth‘ where the beats sound sort of blissfully tacky. Looped distortion guitar lines that smack of the latest Death Grips LP with reggae rhythms bubbling under the surface. The LP is spacey and eclectic with her Brooklyn roots seeping through via her sniggering flow and turbo-chic image.
Don’t be deceived by the tranquility that you might find in ‘Disprate Youth’ or ‘God From My Machine’- Santi still keeps her rickety beats and feverish lyricism on the guttery sounds of ‘Fame’ and ‘Freak Like Me’ the latter smacks of M.I.A circa Kala but that isn’t such a bad thing when all we hear of M.I.A is a few naughty gestures at the Superbowl whereas Santigold is making this kind of album. Personal highlights include the penultimate ‘Look At These Hoes’ which explains Santigold’s sudden camaraderie with OFWGKTA (Earl Sweatshirt came and partied with her at Coachella) she is being precocious and underground in a way that the stage-school-swag of Azealia Banks misses out on. This album is noisy from start to finish and showcases that the silliness and rapid animation on her earlier hits like ‘Creator’ and ‘Say Aha’ as in no way been lost to maturity.
Track 6, ‘This Isn’t My Parade’ carries with it some slightly darker melodies with a mellow synth line resting on top of Santigold’s vocal but it stays pulsating and beat driven like the entire LP. It is hard not to fall for sheer relentlessness of this album. At times, the vocal seems a little squeaky and if you get annoyed by the over emphasized inflections that many US female rappers bring then some tracks will wind you right up but track 7, ‘The Riot’s Gone’ is a genuinely uplifting piece of music that pairs the overused Major Lazer military beats in a way that’s closer to R Kelly’s ‘The World’s Greatest’ or even the latest Florence and The Machine record as opposed to the shoehorned sampling by Beyonce.
This album is smart, it shows Santi White has grown up but not yet grown out of the ballsy middle-finger rap that made her success. She is still a little bit mental with some lyrics being either inaudible or senseless but this record is steam-driven by the analog beats that parade on each track. Her live shows are always a bizarre fiesta of colour and life and the offerings from ‘Master of my Make-Believe’ will fit right in. Santigold is 35 years old now. She still hangs out with the cool kids and this LP proves she’s the coolest one of all.
Words: Duncan Harrison, Bristol, UK