Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Fantastic Negrito – Please Don’t Be Dead

Fantastic Negrito – Please Don’t Be Dead (Cooking Vinyl)

“Take that bullshit, turn it into good shit.”

That’s exactly what the man born Xavier Dphrepaulezz (ed: spelling is correct) does with his work as Fantastic Negrito. The 49-year-old guitarist from Oakland, California, has lived at least three lives; his biography is bananas, filled with heartbreak, pain, destitution, rebirth, and most recently a Grammy award as an independent artist. His resilience is evident in everything he does.

Please Don’t Be Dead, his second album as Fantastic Negrito, is a tour-de-force of modern blues music: he borrows the best parts of Funkadelic more effectively than Childish Gambino; his backing band could give the Roots a run for their money; his songwriting speaks to the desperation of these times—the corruption, the opioid crisis, the gun culture, the dismantling of truth itself—in ways that so few artists dare to do. One song is titled “A Letter to Fear”—this is an artist who has feels more than lucky to just be alive (he survived a terrible car accident in 1999)—and another is “Never Give Up.” The chorus to the incendiary single (and video) “Plastic Hamburgers” is a call to “break all these chains, let’s burn it down.” 

The music of Fantastic Negrito is the sound of overcoming both artificial barriers and very real obstacles: the strength required to do so can be heard in every note here. It renders most other music made in 2018 mere child’s play.

Stream: “Plastic Hamburgers,” “Bad Guy Necessity,” “Transgender Biscuits”

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