Santigold breaks out of the package in ‘99¢’

By Troy Kowalchuk


Everything is commercialized – including people. In her third album, “99¢,” Santigold navigates and exposes the superficiality of the world around her.

We’ve let ourselves fall victim to consumerism, with apps like “Tinder,” and Santi White expressed how we have turned into products. We swipe left or right if someone is a worthy product and we spend hours making subtle changes to our own profiles to convince others we are a product worth talking to.

All aspects of social media have us trying to create a character that isn’t us, but who we think others want us to be. “99¢” exposes this and shows how ridiculous and harmful this mentality is.

On the cover of her album she packaged herself with a number of trinkets, appearing like an action figure, declaring her worth as “99¢.”By making fun of the superficial world around her, the reality surfaces. She begins to break out of the package she laminated herself into.

The 12-song LP is a Santigold album, in that it contains her unique vocal arrangement and African-bubblegum bop sampled beats. White becomes a liberating force against consumerism through her music.

The album starts off with her debut single from previous album, “Can’t Get Enough of Myself.” On a topical level it seems that Santigold is the packaged product. She is this self-obsessed individual who only cares about their own achievements. She represents the epitome of what everyone wants when they post online about themselves: to be liked.

Everyone around her is as obsessed with her, and it becomes comical. With lines like “to my neighbors I’m the best thing around” and “who now could it be, calling the paparazzi” all sung in an almost sarcastic tone, being liked by everyone around her and obsessed is almost creepy. The character she created isn’t human, it’s an ego-centric creature with no emotional depth. Yet this is the person everyone is trying to be. Once this character’s reality is put into perspective and seen as a facade, Santigold continues the album revealing emotions that make the album what it strives to be: genuine.

As the album continues we see this character actively trying to break out of the package. The child-like chants in “Banshee” are all about breaking out of society’s mold. Its upbeat, tantalizing delivery brings the listener to become a part of White’s vision and to leave the fake character behind. Letting the “Banshee” go is not letting other people judge and mold you; it’s getting over the binds that a society can constrict one to.

The album shortly becomes a positive anthem and ultimately inspiring.

“Walking in a Circle” becomes one of the darker pieces. The majority of the tracks are very upbeat and energized, yet this is a slow, haunting part of the album. Here, she addresses the evils of the industry and that money becomes more important than the people themselves; we have sold ourselves to the system. While White may be walking in a circle, she is drastically trying to evolve and never stop walking, she grows and continues to grow.

Whether it be the bubbly, groovy “Rendezvous Girl” or the empty, solemn “Before the Fire,” each track is distinctly its own. The way it’s produced, the way the sounds are made, the messages pleasantly sung across in a number of styles all work in different ways. The album is a gumball dispenser where each color works brilliantly together as a visual delight and on their own they remain just as vibrant and sweet as the last.

With what had started to seem like a satire of the world around us, “99¢” soon becomes a genuine, positive anthem for any person struggling to navigate this money obsessed world. Through its catchy tunes and diverse styles, “99¢” shows the importance of breaking out of the packages we put ourselves in. Only there can we find our true selves.

Troy Kowalchuk can be reached at [email protected]