You can’t listen to Santigold’s Master of My Make-Believe without feeling like you just fel into a musical spin cycle. The former singer of Philadelphia’s punk outfit, Stiffed, draws from such a broad palate of musicality, historicism and culture, you’re sure to learn a few volumes. Santigold, herself, feels that artists like M.I.A. and Bjork (which she both toured with in 2008) hold the best comparison to her sound. Her love of new wave, african and reggae music take center stage, as she crafts an entirely innovative sound. Santigold has been tied to every musical trailblazer in recent history; from Kanye to Q-Tip, Karen O to Fela Kuti. She is a student, lover and master of her own musical universe.
Thus the title.
The tracks “Freak Like Me” and “Fame” are bound to solidify the M.I.A. comparison, with their heavy, danceable beats, caribbean influence and psychedelic tendencies. The Karen O appearance on “GO!” juxtaposes the driving machine gun style of the track. The sheer beauty of “This Isn’t Our Paradise” and “The Keepers” are as much Peter Gabriel as it is African, while the epic anthem “The Riot’s Gone” is drenched in Cindy Lauper, Roxy Music and Toto. “Pirate in the Water” and “Disparate Youth” updates the caribbean influence on new wave music, ala English Beat or Men at Work, accenting her sound with a dub flair of the West Indies. “Look At These Hoes” is a Missy Elliot style club track, with a hard, in-your-face attitude, while “Big Mouth” has a pungent, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopez (T.L.C.) smell of wine, roses and sweat.
Santigold is utterly brilliant on her second release, Master of My Make-Believe, forging a whirlwind of influences from all corners of her tonal consciousness. The finished product is highly accessible, despite moments of T.S. Eliot randomness. It’s simply the right time and place for Santigold, though you can’t help but wonder if her ‘right time’ is boundless.