Santigold hasn’t enjoyed substantial mainstream love, but her music brings a distinct edge to the pop world. With her third album 99 cents, named as an ironic price tag to her undervalued music, the American singer continues to lash out at the music industry with layers of synthpop, hip hop and reggae.
“I should ask but I don’t want to know/How you get something for nothing at all/Build an empire for yourself...” she fumes at streaming companies in All I Got, a stomping piece with direct, defiant verses. Despite her flippant narcissistic manner in opener Can’t Get Enough of Myself and hip-hop song Big Boss Big Time Business, Santigold peels back her facade to reveal how petrified she feels. The joys of being a mother doesn’t show through this album at all.
Chasing Shadows is where Santigold gets the most vulnerable. The glamour of her occupation is a mockery of how lonely is. “Limousines, big people, their parties, but I’m on an island,” goes the rapid-fire lyrics, churned out along to pulsing music. The sense of desperation is heightened in Walking in a Circle, with chilling vocal overlays that show off Santigold’s high-pitched falsetto singing. But even as she battles sleepless nights and banshees on her shoulders in the anthemic Banshee, she maintains a playful, cocky attitude, with high-energy beats and tinkling toy instrument sounds.
The album drags on towards the end as the arrangements repeat their form, and at times her performances comes off as empty. But the album is still an emotional journey well worth embarking on.