Master of My Make Believe
By Justin Lyons
In interviews leading up to the release of Master of My Make Believe, Santi White aka Santigold mentioned much of her sophomore record was about being in control. Not control in a sense of having a prophetic path in life to follow, but in whatever road you travel, you have the ability to set the itinerary. In crafting an album that thematically follows the idea of setting your own roadmap, Santi seems to have inadvertently positioned herself as a potential force in music. Tracks like “Lights Out” and “L.E.S. Artistes” from her debut were near perfect hook-filled ear-worms that landed in TV endorsements and White’s songwriting ability earned attention from various pop stars.
The soundscapes of Master of My Make Believe aren’t drastically different than White’s debut album Santogold, but the output is more complex and realized. Reggae, dub, electronic and new wave influences continue to be the apt base that combine as a potent Santigold mix. A track like “God From The Machine” would have previously been built with dub guitar and drum kicks alone, but the spectral backing vocals effectively mystify the endless pursuit of happiness. “Go” has a hypnotic synth beat that sounds straight out of classic Nintendo game “Spy Hunter”, complete with a military-like chant directly challenging biters and copycats. The new wave-inspired “The Keepers” and percussion heavy “The Riot’s Gone“ exude anthemic pop potential and would be an instant hit sung by a Lady Gaga or Katy Perry-type. Santi also shows her ability to switch from songstress to full on party starting emcee on “Freak Like Me”. The Switch co-produced cut is a dancehall burner that sounds unlike anything on radio right now as Santigold spits club rhymes and directives.
Stand out of tracks exemplify the theme of being a “ruler of your own reality.” “Disparate Youth” sets the standard that her dreams won’t be “road blocked” by those that stand in front of her dreams. The guitar driven track casts out doubters and pushes ahead with the poetic hook: “Oh, we set our dreams to carry us/In the middle where we were one/Now we push right past to find out/Or either win what they have lost”. Elsewhere, rhythmic cut “This Isn’t Our Parade” buzzes with tribal drums and keys as Santi proclaims “will you come down” and takes the reigns of a relationship gone awry.
The premise of dub influenced track “Fame” is interesting in that Santigold proclaims “we don’t want the fame” in protesting fashion. Unlike M.I.A., who Santi is often compared to, Santi seems to have all of the tools to become a major star without the controversial baggage: serviceable pipes, emcee capabilities, songwriter extraordinaire. Master of My Make Believe shows Santigold has potential to be a major star, no matter the genre, should she want the fame.
Pick-up Santigold Master of My Make Believe on Tuesday, May 1st.