Record of the Week

Santigold “99¢”


A few years ago, German Punk-Schlager mastermind Rocko Schamoni announced that he shall be called “€14,-” from now on, as that sounded far more “high-quality” than for example “50 Cent”. That was obviously just a joke, but dare I say a pretty good one and I was not quite as happy when Santigold announced that her new record was going to be called “99¢”. A title like that seemed too much of an invitation for disrespectful comments and came across as if Santigold was selling off her art (and herself) dirt cheap.

But thankfully I was wrong: Santigold’s previous record “Master of my Make-Believe” in my opinion appeared too much like an attempt at easy commercial success, as if Santi White was just waiting to take her place among the likes of M.I.A., Madonna and Gwen Stefani. You know, somehow wild and tough, naturally, that’s what the kids want, but strictly mainstream, of course! Somebody somewhere referred to that as “urban riot” – yeah right, more like riot for sale. All of that just came as a bit of a disappointment to me after Santigold’s impressive debut back in 2008, when the singer, producer and composer was still called Santogold. Probably as a little bit of an act of defiance on my part, the only thing I deliberately allowed myself to remember of said album was “Go”, Santigold’s cooperation with Nick Zinner.

But what’s done is done. No use dwelling on the past. “99¢” has arrived and thankfully, it has turned out to be just the opposite of cheap and (he)artless. Granted, Santigold uses the album title as means of pointing out the product value of human beings, music and basically everthing you can possibly think of nowadays (including herself, of course), but when it comes to her sound, “99¢” is far more reminiscent of Santigold’s debut album than of her second album. The twelve tracks on “99¢” are radiant and sparkly thanks to the multitude of musical styles that are being employed, while at the same time they are rooted in and continue to convey Santigold’s trademark stylistics. Whether it’s Ragga-dancehall-rap with “Big Boss Big Time Business” or pop sing-along-tunes like “All I Got”, “Who I Thought You Were” or the synth-heavy “Rendezvous Girl” – in all these different styles, Santigold combines harsh social criticism with good vibes. The single “Can’t get enough of Myself” quotes a 1960s girlgroup-sound, poking fun at our age with its glorification of celebrity cult, social media and selfies. “Before the Fire” and “Outside the War” are ruled by broken beats and conjure a distincly darker atmosphere than other songs on the record. “Banshee” sees Santi deliver her take on Gwen Stefani’s “cheerleader-style”-antics, but in this case girls perform for girls and not for some random football team. Oh Santigold: it’s all (finally!) so much fun again! And you are obviously having a great time, too.
Christina Mohr


Translation: Tanita Sauf

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