Fantastic Negrito the uber talented singer-songwriter just released a new song and video for “A Boy Named Andrew”. There has been amazing feedback including one fan’s response, “Very cool song. Been a fan since the NPR Tiny Desk. “Lost in a crowd” helped me through a very dark time. And you continue to make great music.”
The video shows Dphrepaulezz in a frenzy, on stage and in public with clips displaying his passion and zest. His voice gives life through lyrics, “Time keeps on turning, we’re still learning to fly. Something’s got a hold on me. Cuz everytime I close my eyes, I see the face of the living dead. Time keeps on turning, we’re still learning to fly.” The rhythmic beats and soulful backdrop are aligned in cohesive harmony, displaying a vocal marvel of some sort.
His 2016 album The Last Days of Oakland won a Grammy award for Best Contemporary Blues Album at the 60th Grammy Awards. In 2018, his album Please Don’t Be Dead was nominated again in the same category for the 61st Grammy Awards.
Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz aka Fantastic Negrito is from western Massachusetts and the eighth of fifteen children. A lifelong hustler, he began selling drugs at a young age in Oakland. In 2016, he told the Guardian, “We were all selling drugs, man. We all carried pistols. There was a crack epidemic.” He became inspired to teach himself how to play music after listening to Prince’s album Dirty Mind and hearing that Prince was a self-taught musician. He learned to play music by sneaking into music classrooms at the University of California Berkeley despite not being a student there.
Because he fought so hard to get to the top, it’s no wonder his music displays his genius in full force. You can feel his essence come through his lyrics. The narrative on Dphrepaulezz is as important as the sound, because the narrative is the sound. Songs born from a long hard life channeled through black roots music. Slide guitar, drums, piano. Urgent, desperate, edgy. Fantastic Negrito is the story of a man who struggled to “make it”, who “got it”, who lost it all, and somehow managed to find his way back.
Dphrepaulezz says in an article, “I knew from a very young age that I was going to be ridiculed for not having clothing. There was a great sense of shame—I was just writing a song about this today, actually—but the things that make you feel ashamed [eventually] make you feel alright. It was probably the beginning of high school where I realized I’m really kind of proud of who I am. I was in the hood wearing leopard skin cowboy boots. I remember bleaching one of my pants’ legs white. I thought, ‘I’ll be the King of Different.”
His early career began when he signed a record deal with Prince’s former manager. In 1993, he signed with Interscope and released his first album, The X Factor, under Xavier in 1996. Tragedy hit when he was in a near-fatal car crash in 1999, which left him in a coma for three weeks. He said that he felt that this crash “released” him because Interscope terminated their contract with him, after which he resumed hustling.‘ He took a break for some years but won NPR‘s Tiny Desk Contest in 2015.
His world tour lineup includes stops in the United States, South America, Australia, Italy and the UK. Tickets are available. There is a show in San Jose, CA on Saturday, March 9. Last September he played the Ohana Festival in California.