Singer sells bleeding-edge cool and does it in style
“All I want to do is bottle it to sell,” Santigold tells us on the smiling, reggae-inflected tune that opens her third record. It’s a fitting boast from an artist whose stylish mix of dubby hip-hop and neon-tinged New Wave has been used to hawk cars, insurance and Bud Light Lime. But the smarts, confidence and versatility of 99¢ are undeniable.
She and her collaborators – who include platinum hip-hop producer Hit-Boy, Swedish dance-pop maestro Patrick Berger, TV on the Radio’s Dav Sitek and ex-Vampire Weekender Rostam Batmanglij – create a sound that’s immaculately haute but also playful and warm. The Batmanglij-steered “Chasing Shadows” has the poignant pull of top-drawer VW; “Banshee” makes an uplifting jam out of a carousel organ figure and a skip-rope beat; and rapper iLoveMakonnen swings by to do his best half-asleep Biz Markie impression on “Who Be Lovin’ Me.” Santigold does plenty of lithe MC peacocking herself, and she’s a buoyantly charismatic singer, too. Even if her persona is mostly surface (“They call me a fashion plate, lil man/I be pullin’ stunts from France to Japan”), she’s always an enjoyable cipher – which is more honest than fronting like you’re deep.