Revisiting Santigold’s Illustrious Debut Album.
In 2008, Santigold sent out a hail mary in the form of her self-titled debut. 32 years old, broken away from her music industry job and her punk-rock band Stiffed firmly placed in the rear-view mirror. 32, of course, isn’t old by any stretch. Pop music, however, is a young person’s game. Always has been. Being a relative unknown – not to mention one sporting an ambitious, multi-faceted sound – the odds were stacked against Santigold in the worst possible way.
Not only did Santigold defy them, she promptly exceeded them. Her debut Santogold is the sound of an artist given a blank canvas and, throwing caution to the wind, pouring every last drop of paint within arm’s reach onto it. From slick, swaggering new-wave cuts like “You’ll Find a Way” and dreamy indie-pop like “Lights Out.” All the way to certified club bangers like “Creator” and the dancehall-tinged “Shove It,” Santigold leaves no stone unturned. Rather than go full-steam ahead on a singular musical identity, the album celebrates all of her creative mind’s moving parts in a constant, unrelenting stream.
Needless to say, sending out such a striking and distinct album into the world sparked some truly excitable praise at the time. Rolling Stone called it “visionary.” The NME claimed it was forging a path to “a brave new musical future” and The Guardian noted it as “propulsive pop joy.” A further half-dozen publications also went on to list Santogold as one of the best albums of the entire decade. This is a mean feat, considering it rocked up some 18 months before the 2000s ended.
If you want to see the living, breathing incarnation of the album’s impact, we have to take you back to Sasquatch! Festival. An open-air music festival in a small west Georgia town, Sasquatch! always boasted a pointedly diverse line-up across its three days. Santigold, in effect, a perfect fit. During her performance on the final day in 2009, she broke into another choice cut from the album – the Diplo-produced “Unstoppable.” The song prompted one eccentric punter to take full advantage of the festival’s wide open spaces up. On the ampitheatre’s hill he had stripped down to his shorts.
Looking past the ’09 grade camera quality, watch this ripple effect unfold!
As he danced on his own, a fellow festival-goer began to film this literal song-and-dance number. Less than 30 seconds later, another punter joined in with our hero. Almost the exact same amount of time passes before another comes along. Then two more. Then two more. People are rushing from all ends of the festival to join the party. 15 million views later, this festival moment has literally been taught at universities, displaying the power of group action. And to think it all started thanks to Santigold’s music.
There is so much to love about Santogold. You can feel the passion that went into its production through every steely bass-line, every spark of energy and every big-swinging chorus. “Me, I’m a creator/Thrill is to make it up,” Santigold boasts on “Creator.” If ever an artist has succinctly wrapped up their MO in one single go, it’s surely got to be this.
Santigold is one of a kind – and Santogold is testament to that.