Born Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz in Massachusetts in 1968, Fantastic Negrito drew
on musical influences from his Somali and Caribbean heritage, the spoken word music of his generation, and ultimately the deep blues of the American south. A family move to Oakland when he was twelve was life-changing. He says his world went “from Arab chants to Funkadelic in one day, living in the heart of one of the wildest, most infamous, most vibrant black communities in the nation.”
By his early twenties he had learned several instruments, had recorded, and had become mired in the L.A. club scene. He signed a big contract, and then faced “creative death,” as he puts it. Following a near-fatal car accident, he quit, retreated to Oakland, and raised chickens. Seven years later he resurrected his career. After only three years he won the 2017 Grammy award for Best Contemporary Blues Album with The Last Days of Oakland (Blackball Universe).
Negrito’s music is a complex combination of genres, delivered with urgency and style... and sometimes with the frank vulgarity of a rap singer. His lyrics reflect the struggles he has had with the music industry and with his battle to find a music identity free of cliches, and he writes and sings of reclaiming his life after business failure, creative doubt, and a car wreck that maimed and nearly killed him.