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Santogold is now Santigold, but Santo Rigatuso's lawyer says it's not enough

Santigold300According to a press release sent Wednesday, Santogold, the stallion-riding genre-mixer, has changed the middle letter of her name, thus becoming Santigold. The announcement goes on to explain, "She’s not telling you why, that’s just how it is. No unpronounceable symbol, no numbers where they shouldn’t be ... just plain ... Santigold."

In keeping with the "not telling you why" part, her representative has stated that he has no further comment. Of course, the singer's name is Santi White, but why bother with a name change now, after a tremendous wave of momentum that placed her debut album in nearly every 2008 Top 10 list?

White's name-changing fracas began, according to Stereogum, in November when a press release from the mtvU Woodies Awards referred to her as "Santi (the artist formerly known as Santogold)." The Prince-like name change didn't stick but it did draw attention to why she might've done it. Turns out that lawyers for an '80s infomercial/cult artist by the name of Santo Gold filed a lawsuit in June against White, Downtown Music and Lizard King Records, claiming name infringement. Santo Gold is seeking compensatory damages, an injunction barring the use of the "Santo Gold mark or anything substantially similar" and the recall and destruction of all items already in commerce allegedly infringing on the Santo Gold mark.

Wesley Pentz, a.k.a. Diplo, was also named in the lawsuit, which alleges that he used a sample of Santo Gold saying, "Now ladies and gentlemen, we proudly present in person, Santo Gold!" as the introduction to the Diplo-Santogold "Top Ranking" mixtape. This move, the litigation asserts, reveals the "true nature" of White's "bad faith and malicious intent to confuse the public and injure Santo Gold's career." Diplo's representation did not respond to Pop & Hiss' request for a comment.

In addition to pursuing his lawsuit, Santo Gold, whose full name is Santo Rigatuso, has also made a YouTube video, in which he states, "I'm the real Santo Gold... don't use my name to create your fame. Believe me, kid, this isn't a game." And it appears that someone recently messed with the Santogold Wikipedia page; this Google cache captures it from Feb. 7. Note the interjections of "Santi White, impostor that has stolen the name from Santo Rigatuso" and other such claims on the page.

Jill L. Abitbol of the Lustigman Firm, counsel to Santo Gold, had this to say Wednesday about White's name change: "It's nothing that's been done in accordance with any agreement with my client." She went on to say that the "litigation is ongoing" but that the name change would indicate that White "has been infringing on our client's name and has decided to change it." In another conversation today, Abitbol added, "We've taken a position that it does not remedy the infringement."

Sounds like White hasn't quite worked her way out of this pickle yet. Either way, we're looking forward to the next album, no matter what name it's filed under.

-- Margaret Wappler

Photo by Jonathan Wood/Getty Images

Comments () | Archives (8)

It's about time Diplo got burned for the unauthorized use of songs and samples... this is what is so ridiculous about super star DJ's... talent based on the hijacking of other works.

Girltalk... watch out, you're next.

Bill, did you even read the story? Santogold (or Santigold now) worked with Diplo. There was no unauthorized use of songs and samples.

Get a life.

Those washed up has-beens need to get a life.

And this is how poor 80's has-beens try to get in the light again......stuuppiidddddd

PS--To Mr.Santo Gold, the washed-up never-been "thespian": give it up, dude. There's absolutely no comparison. You should be ashamed to be such a brazen opportunist; alot of people are too aware of this. Plus Santi's in a completely different field of the arts than you WERE. Not to mention there's no infringement on talent: she has it, whereas you..how can I say this.....I've seen a couple of your home-made videos....you're completely devoid of it (talent).

Santogold is just a pure hype. Everything cool about her is stolen. Sounds like MIA, or Karen O, and what now? even her name is ripped off? man... is there anything original about this chick? This is typical New York, Steal from everything that is good and give nothing back! At least bands like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs gave you something to rip off. Kill New York!

Those guys are going to lose the hell out of that case. They're just trying to make a quick buck off of someone else's fame and success. If it were up to me, I'd send their asses to jail for wasting the courts time and wasting the public's money.

Such a shame. I love Santigold. Her album was amazing.
She is original, most of you rejects complaining haven't even heard her album. And as far as the MIA comparison, she's been grinding before MIA. MIA just hit the spot light first due to Kanye sampling her voice for "Swagger Like Us" If it were'nt for that single MIA would've never hit mainstream the way she did. What else was a hit besides "Paper Planes"? Not to take any credit from MIA, but the two can't be compared. Plus Santi & MIA are longtime friends anyway.
The "real" Santogold needs to go back into hibernation, he's extinct, not relavant anymore.
Santi is the truth.


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