Y’all like Santigold? I like Santigold. My favorite song on her Master of My Make-Believe record has gotta be “Look At These Hoes.” I always forget that it doesn’t come last on the album, because it feels like such a victory lap type of song.
If someone asked me what Santigold sounded like, I’d point to “Look At These Hoes”. It feels like a distillation of everything that she does and is about, from the wordplay to the song structure to the beat to the subject matter. It’s a song that’s about Santigold, and more specifically, about her relationship to her competition.
Maybe it’s weird, but rap isn’t a genre to me so much as a gaping maw, eager to absorb and digest anything that happens to make it through its teeth. It snaps up dance music, soul, funk, jazz, rock, and whatever else is out there — afrobeat! — and absorbs it into the body of rap. The Roots and Curren$y and David Banner and Jean Grae all make rap music, even though none of their music even remotely sounds alike.
“Look At These Hoes” is such a rap song, too. It’s all about how Santigold is iller than her competition. So much iller, in fact, that she’s off in a position of safety like “Look at these hoes trying to come up, not knowing they got no chance.” It’s braggy, full of swagger, and double-time. It sounds like a song you want to bop to, hitting b-boy poses and showing off your flashiest gear. It’s begging to be acted out.
I really dig how she flips a rap staple, too. She ain’t cold — she’s “so damn gold.” There’s barely a difference in pronunciation, but I love the difference between the two. Not to mention the pleasant connection between Santigold and gold, right? She’s positioning herself, being Santigold, as the standard for being cool. I dig that.
“Look At These Hoes” has layers. Her voice goes through a few different treatments over the course of the song — my favorite is the screw voice, to the surprise of no one — and her flow is rapid-fire but staccato, with emphasis placed on every word and extra emphasis on the end of a line. It’s like driving at high speeds around a curving mountain path, right? Turn-turn-turn-turn-TURN. I like how the song feels different epending on which voice she’s doing at the time or how her different voices play off each other when they appear simultaneously. I’m real curious how the acapella sounds.
You could pull this song apart, from the weird ultra-processed video game whistle to the subdued drum machine beat to the way Santigold’s voice bends words into new shapes and find plenty of things to talk about.
That’s what I like about Santigold, really. There’s a wide variety of sounds and styles on her Master of My Make-Believe, but it still feels like a cohesive album, from the first yelp on “Go” to the body-moving beat on “Big Mouth.” (A friend recently put me onto Buraka Som Sistema, producers of “Big Mouth.” I was already down with the sound of “Big Mouth,” and now I get MORE? Awesome.) I know I can depend on Santigold to deliver something just a little off-kilter and ultra-fresh. That faith lets me take it in stride when she throws something new at me, because I’m in the default position of being open to what she’s doing.
Master of My Make-Believe is eleven songs long, and all of them bang for almost entirely different reasons.