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Electro/Hip-Hop

Many styles for one voice

Santogold (Downtown)

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May 6, 2008

Can an artist appropriate different genres, techniques, and sounds and still emerge as a wholly original voice? Meet Santogold. This Brooklyn vocalist/MC, born Santi White, works as a pop-music collage artist on her debut as she cuts and pastes from an array of sources and incorporates a blizzard of beats, electronic blips, and buzzes along with swooping, often melodic hooks. She draws on unlikely musical influences, from '80s new wave (without the cheese) to toasting to Meredith Monk-like chants to hip-hop. The songs are infused with churning, chattering guitars and sleek stabs of keyboards. Certainly comparisons are going to be drawn to M.I.A. since Santogold conjures sing-song choruses and broad declarative verses underlined by an aggressive rhythmic mix. Some of this is sublimely poppy ("I'm a Lady,") while other tracks will set the clubs on fire ("Creator"). Somehow it all makes sense and coheres into a brash, intelligent, and challenging set of dance pop. Part of the appeal as with M.I.A — is the attitude and defiant urban undertow that draw you in, and, while not immediately accessible, it's ultimately irresistible. These predictable times call for bold strokes, and there's gold in these grooves. [Ken Capobianco]

Essential: L.E.S. Artistes

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