From Kanye to Casablancas, it seems there isn’t anyone who doesn’t want to work with Santi White. Ever since she came on to the scene, the singer/MC’s eclectic Miss Mixalot style has attracted the most on-the-money rappers and producers. Which brings us to this hook-up with DJ extraordinaire Diplo. Instead of collaborating with Will.i.am and “reading over scripts”, Santi’s decided to use her new-found fame for more musical envelope-pushing. Although not issued officially on CD over here, the internet-only ‘Top Ranking’ finds the two casting their musical net wide. It re-imagines the 12 songs on her debut as part of a 35-track patchwork mixtape.
Incorporating hyphy, crunk, classic dub and new wave, ‘Top Ranking’ expands on her debut’s cultural crossover. It’s extremely varied stuff – including a beautiful version of ‘I’m A Lady’ where Spank Rock’s Amanda Blank fires out a gender-reversed version of LL Cool J’s ‘I Need Love’ over Santi’s original tune. With its elephant-screeching hook and tribal drums, Santi’s Radioclit bunk-up with MIA, ‘Get It Up’, is as good as you’d imagine, while ‘Icarus’ transposes the melody of ‘I’m A Lady’ on to violin, sounding like a Final Fantasy house party with Kate Bush.
There’s also lashings of unscripted fun, as when BFF Mark Ronson jokily threatens to cover ‘Creator’ (“We’d get one of these hot new British chicks to sing it… Kate Winehouse or Lily Nash”). As a standalone mixtape or a perfect companion to ‘Santogold’, ‘Top Ranking’ is a must-have.