One of Santigold’s most admirable qualities is she’s managed to avoid an overtly sexualized image throughout the span of her career. The Brooklyn-based artist exploded onto the scene with her self-titled debut in 2008 with a style so brash and innovative, it was impossible to deem her just another “pop star du jour.” Her follow-up, 2012’s Master Of My Make-Believe, was another critically acclaimed soundtrack that burst with a myriad of sounds, including reggae, electronica and pop influences.

After touring with stadium-sized artists such as Coldplay, Beastie Boys and Red Hot Chili Peppers, she proved her staying power in the industry and catapulted to new heights.

She did all of this without taking her clothes off, instead rocking a more eclectic, colorful style true to who Santigold is. In an industry dominated by misogynistic images of women that wants to package anything and everything, Santigold is a breath of fresh air.

Santigold is releasing her third studio album, 99¢, on February 26 and she doesn’t hold back on content with this one, either. Three singles have already been released: “Chasing Shadows,” “Can’t Get Enough of Myself” and “Who Be Lovin’ Me” ft. ILOVEMAKONNEN. The theme of the album revolves around the packaging, marketing and mass consumption of, well, everything.

“I decided to cope with it by laughing my way through it and by really being deep in it, and embracing it, partially because I had to,” Santigold says. “That was what I was writing about: the challenge of how to come to terms with what I was having to do as an artist right now that totally went against what felt natural and comfortable to me, which is be a product, sell yourself all the time, put up this facade of a perfect life and market that. 

“That’s not stuff that I’m into,” she adds.” So I decided to just play with it and turn that into art; make art out of the absurdity of it and hold it up and put it right in people’s faces, and have it look as absurd as it really is.”

In her latest video, “Chasing Shadows,” Santi is seen wearing some high-top Pumas, long yellow sweater and some animal print leggings, a far cry from what many female pop stars choose to wear. The beauty of Santigold is her sheer determination to gain respect based on talent and hustle alone.

“I think it’s kind of messed up that there’s not more variety of ways to be a female pop artist,” she says. “I think if you want to be this totally sexualized thing, go for it, but it shouldn’t be the only choice. You shouldn’t feel that in order to make it, you have to be that way, which is basically where we are. People don’t feel like they have a choice. Like women feel like if I’m not getting enough attention, let me take off more clothes.

“I don’t believe in that and I’m not going to subscribe to that,” she adds. “I think part of my mission is to prove that is not the case and shouldn’t be the case, and that you should be able to get attention for what it is you’re actually doing.”