It’s been six years since Santigold liberated her last official album 99¢, a 12-song body of work that saw additional assist from B.C. and ILOVEMAKONNEN. She did release a dancehall-inspired mixtape, I Don’t Want: The Gold Fire Sessions, a couple of years later — she could also be seen making contributions of varying degrees for the likes of OneRepublic, Diplo, Tyler, The Creator, and GoldLink.
Last week, Santigold marked her official return to wax with “High Priestess,” a genre-bending effort that she co-produced alongside Psymun, Ryan Olson, Boys Noize, and Ray Brady. The track sees her rapping confidently about her presence on the music scene and sending a message to anyone who has something to say about it:
“I got that manna for you, mama, I’ll take your money fool, send it off to the Bahama, I’ll roast you, dry bake you, fry ’til you’re golden, come on, I’m takin’ no drama, only answer to your honor, they talk about bitches, they talk, that shit stop at me, now bow down, don’t freak out in the presence of a queen, they talk about big things, don’t make none, ’cause deep down they sleep, watch how-to vids, while to the top, I got a ticket going one way…”
Santigold further explained the song’s creation via a lengthy press release:
“I had started working on this beat and I didn’t have anything in mind for a topic, I just knew I wanted to do a sort of rap punk song (as dangerous as that sounds). My buddy Ray Brady and I started working on something, trying to add in all the elements that made sense, kicks, subs, new wave synths. … It was coming along quickly until it wasn’t. The punk rock energy, the angst, that I wanted to come across wasn’t quite there…”
Check out the visual for “High Priestess” — as well as her full statement in regards to the song — below. As revealed in a recent interview, her forthcoming album (titled Spirituals) will be making landfall soon.
“I had started working on this beat and I didn’t have anything in mind for a topic, I just knew I wanted to do a sort of rap punk song (as dangerous as that sounds). My buddy Ray Brady and I started working on something, trying to add in all the elements that made sense, kicks, subs, new wave synths. Boys Noize ended up bringing something super cool that really built the song and made me get even more excited about it. It was coming along quickly until it wasn’t. The punk rock energy, the angst, that I wanted to come across wasn’t quite there. I tried adding guitar and a live drum kit, and that was a big red buzzer ‘X.’
“I ended up tagging in Psymun (Simon Christensen) who brought in Ryan Olson, and they brought the final missing element. The energy I was looking for couldn’t be the old version of punk rock, it had to be the future sound of punk rock. They brought the angst, the push and pull that was missing, but it was very fresh sounding and totally unexpected. It all came together in a way I could never have imagined when we started, but it was exactly what I set out to make. I want to make music that sounds like the past and the future all in one; music that makes you feel safe enough to jump in, but then takes us on a journey to where we needed to go but have never even heard of. I want my music to be the bridge.
“I love working in this way, a communal effort, a meeting of minds and hearts to make something that is a true collaboration, more than any of the single parts themselves. For me, music is about community, it’s a way to connect, both in the making of it and in the listening to it. I made this song over the past two years during the pandemic, and was desperate for this type of connection. I started working on it in my studio with Ray a few weeks before the first lockdown in 2020, but after that, I was completely by myself in a room. Part of the time, I was in a room in a cabin in the middle of the woods in Canada, completely isolated. Technology was amazing though, because I felt like I was hanging out with these guys the whole time. My engineer recorded me on my computer in my studio from afar. Boys Noize and I hung out everyday on Zoom and talked and laughed more than we’d had a chance to in years. I worked with Simon for the first time in this way, over Zoom with us in different countries, and immediately figured out what I love about him as a producer. It was like teleporting a vibe into the studio, being able to sit for hours face to face working on songs together.
“I had also been in just Mom mode for months, and it was like finding gold to have found a cabin to escape to during the days, to run away and be with music and friends after having not had the opportunity to do that for months on end. It literally saved my spirit. And that brings us to the name of the song. I called this song “High Priestess” because this song was about my greatness. I needed to be a witness to myself at that point, calling out my own power, my own fortitude, my own wisdom, because I felt like I had become disconnected from it, having been stripped out of the rhythm of life that I had cultivated for myself, and thrust into this smaller, one-dimensional version of myself, grounded and isolated for too long. The lyrics are fun though, rap lyrics in general, boastful, cocky, but that’s what I was talking about underneath it all.”