Speaking of fusion, perhaps no album I’ve listened to recently is a better example than Santogold’s self-titled release. The solo debut of singer Santi White, Santogold is kaledoscopic in its influences. Several songs owe a huge debt to M.I.A., with exotic soundscapes layered over rolling drumbeats and White’s rapped vocals nearly indistinguishable from her celebrated counterpart. But the rest of the album is more interesting by far, evoking everything from Depeche Mode to No Doubt, Bob Marley to Beck.
More than anything, this is an exciting album, full of infectious melodies and delicious beats. It’s a true ride, from the New Wave rock of opening track ‘L.E.S. Artistes’ to the spaced-out Talking Heads groove of ‘My Superman’ to maybe my favorite song on the album, ‘I’m a Lady,’ a light-as-air pop gem that I could play on a loop for hours.
Finally, and maybe it isn’t necessary to say this in a “post-Democratic primary” world, but it’s refreshing to see a black woman breaking so many musical barriers. There are certainly plenty of black women on the charts, but most seem to be cut from the Beyonce mold, with a dash of Mary J. Blige and Missy Elliott. Soul singers, in other words. But Santogold is Gwen Stefani and Shirley Manson in the body of Pam Grier, and that’s a very cool thing to behold.