I Don’t Want: The Gold Fire Sessions
Downtown Records

Santigold has always struck me as an exhaustive artist, meaning she is careful about the curation of her public self as viewed through her music.  So it was a surprise when The Gold Fire Sessions dropped as a sudden mixtape last week with no real warning.  Actually, no warning at all.  Suddenly, there it was.

This is new territory for her, essentially the mix is a dub-fired collection of Jamaican-influenced music.  Working with Dre Skull in the studio, on music for someone else, she suddenly got influenced and inspired to do this.  She describes it as a mixtape because it’s her with someone else, though she acknowledges that a true mix is usually the artist with a bunch of different people.  Whatever, don’t care.

This is her first mixtape since 2008, and she’s been, uh, rather busy of late, giving birth to twins (she recorded parts of this mix whilst 9 months pregnant) moving to the City of Angels and prepping to open for Ms. Lauryn Hill’s coming tour, though Ms. Hill appears to be busy cancelling dates on that jaunt.  This is her summer party mix.

And it is that.  With big, phat dub beats, Santigold’s beautiful voice wraps around the spaces in between the beats, smoothing over classic reggae guitars and other flourishes.  She has described the lyrics as social commentary, rather than political.  In an interview with Pitchfork, she says that she finds politics is boring, as it’s become far too focused on personality, presumably at the cost of actual issues.  For example, on ‘Valley of the Dolls,’ she draws on the rich history of LA and sexuality.  But she does get pointed.  Opening track ‘Coo Coo Coo’ and ‘I Don’t Want’ flip the bird at catcallers and predatory men.  And ‘Crashing Your Party’ is a challenge to the politicians to drop the bullshit and actually focus on the issues, to figure out what is going on in the real world.

And like all good dub-reggae, the music is socially conscious and the music is designed to move your ass.