Santigold dove deep within, calling on spiritual and ancestral powers for her dynamic return to music. The genre-blurring artist’s latest single, “High Priestess” and its official video short dropped on Wednesday (May 18).
The song is her first solo release since 2018’s dancehall and reggae-inspired mixtape I Don’t Want: The Gold Fire Sessions featuring Shenseea. In recent years, the Philly native collaborated with Tyler, the Creator on his Grammy Award-winning album IGOR and last June she appeared on “Man Next Door” from the late Reggae legend U-Roy’s posthumous album Solid Gold U-Roy.
“High Priestess” was recorded virtually during the lockdown. Santigold expressed in a statement that the forced isolation “literally saved my spirit.” The song is about her “greatness” and celebrates the mom of one reconnecting with herself.
The uptempo track blends elements of electronica, 80s pop-rock, punk, and rap, a sound she described as “the future sound of punk.” This paradoxical and simultaneous combination of futuristic and nostalgic, familiar and foreign, easily identifiable but not quite sure is her specialty showcased on tracks like “Who I Thought You Were“.
“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,” explained the “Starstruck” singer.
In the Frank Ockenfels-directed video short the 45-year-old dons a fiery crown and is garbed in oversized heavy-looking clothing and rings of light on her arms. She walks alone along the sidewalk of a dark overpass and other dimly-lit deserted urban locales. She dances freely and boldly rap-sings, “They talk about b*tches, they talk, that sh*t stop at me / Now bow down, don’t freak out in the presence of a queen.” Switching back and forth between what seems like male and female first-person perspectives in a battle of the sexes, Santigold exudes confidence, power, and gravitas.
The artful details in her elaborate ensemble and whimsical dance moves are reminiscent of and perhaps inspired by a South African shaman or Sangoma, a Zulu healer. Highly respected within society the Sangomas serve a variety of roles within the culture including treating physical illness with herbal medicines, spiritual healing and cleansing, performing traditional rituals, and protecting against evil. In the ultimate reclamation of self, Santigold freely performs the empowering lyrics she described as “boastful” and “cocky.”
Watch the video for Santigold’s “High Priestess” above.