Musical Wes Alums Generate Buzz
If you want to take the temperature of the zany fringes of Wesleyan’s music and theater scenes, you could do worse than survey Amanda Palmer’s output over the last decade. Since inventing the “Brechtian punk cabaret” genre as half of The Dresden Dolls, she’s kept the sass/psychosis balance in check with the band Evelyn Evelyn and her own dynamic solo career.
Over the summer, she showed off the ferocious zealotry of her fan base by raising over $1.1 million on Kickstarter to produce her upcoming album Theater Is Evil, which was made in collaboration with The Grand Theft Orchestra. Four songs have already dropped, leaked, or otherwise been put online: lead single “Do It With a Rockstar,” “Trout Heart Replica,” “Want It Back,” and “The Killing Type.” The full album becomes available on Sept. 11, which is in one week.
The perfect blend of “pop star” and “so Wes,” Santi White ’97, now known as Santigold, combines the worldliness of MIA and the bonkers fashion statements of Lady Gaga while carving out her own niche of club hits that sound like the Occupy movement on MDMA. Part of that comes from her excellent and varied production taste; in a world where science has proven that all contemporary pop music sounds the same, Santigold draws from a diverse pool of hip-hop and electronic producers like Diplo, Boys Noize, and Q-Tip. Her sophomore album, Master of My Make-Believe, released in the states on May 1 to critical acclaim. Bangers include singles “Big Mouth” and “Disparate Youth.”
You’ve probably heard of Wes alum rap outfit Das Racist and its provocative antics. But lesser known is the stacked roster of rappers/musicians on Himanshu Suri’s [’07] “Greedhead” label. Artists like Lakutis, Fat Tony, and Big Baby Gandhi explicitly challenge the standards of commercial and underground rap while remaining humorous, fun listening. Nowhere has this mix worked better than in Khalif Diouf ’11, a.k.a LE1F, who is openly gay—as in “Paris Is Burning” gay—and can do whatever he wants with his flow and make it catchy.
After entering the public eye by producing Das Racist’s “Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell,” LE1F has become Greedhead’s star player. If you don’t believe there are going to be lots of straight people this fall dancing to the lyrics “Ukranian cutie, he really wanna cuddle/the fever in his eyes, he wanna suckle on my muscle,” then watch the video for LE1F’s summer single “Wut” and you’ll see what I mean. A ridiculous manifesto of what LE1F plans to do with the rap game was announced by WorldStarHipHop.com with the headline, “This Is What Happens When Rappers Start Admitting Their[sic] Gay?” Fuck yeah it is!