I’ve been buzzing since I booked this interview with the supernatural musical artist known as Fantastic Negrito. If you want to raise your frequency, learn some history or discover some deeply relevant music that will feed your soul and make you move, then check out “White Jesus Black Problems.”
After winning his 2nd Grammy (he’s got 3), Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz, known as Fantastic Negrito was looking forward to putting out an eclectic album of duets. He had just worked with Sting and was ready to reach out to some of his favourite artists like Taj Mahal and Robert Plant when the world was shut down with Covid.
Quarantined in a hotel room in Atlanta, Negrito decided to open an email from a stranger who claimed to be a relative and then the world as he knew it was never the same.
“I’m not who I thought I was but I’m exactly who I need to be.”
As he began to uncover centuries of incredible family history, he pieced together an intricate tapestry of powerful songs honouring the memories of his resilient and passionate ancestors. Negrito’s deep explorations of racism, violence and injustice, contrasted with the audacity of love and hope capture the essence of punk rock. With his R&B sound and defiant energy, Negrito isn’t just stirring the pot, he’s making you think.
“My nature is to explore so I just started exploring,” he says.
“White Jesus Black Problems” tells the love story between a white indentured servant woman from Scotland and an unnamed black slave man who did something that was not only forbidden but unimaginable in the 1700’s.
“This album is like a speeding train. I could see that train coming once I discovered the story and I knew that I needed to get on the train and let it take me where it was trying to go.”
“White Jesus Black Problems” starts off dreamy and harmonious setting you up for a psychedelic magical mystery tour, reminiscent of the Beatles and then it gets funky real quick. Negrito is like a shapeshifter, not only channelling the spirits of his ancestors but acting as a conduit for a plethora of musical styles. Rock, funk, blues, gospel, Motown, Country, Folk and whatever else you can taste in this delicious gumbo of an album. Even his voice shifts characters as he switches it up from a falsetto to a growl in the same song(Highest Bidder). And the way it cracks as he helplessly pleads in” Oh Betty” against the urgency of the bass line is pure rock.
“Trudoo’s” manic yodel and the anxious chorus “Help me now I’m drowning in a river, wanting to get out.” got stuck in my head as soon as I heard it and I’m not complaining.
Speaking with Fantastic Negrito is like hanging out with your favourite guru. He’s a multifarious visionary who perfectly blends all genres of music with his own flavours, creating timeless and meaningful works with the imagination, fearlessness and sensitivity that embodies the spirit of a true artist
I only got 30 minutes but I had so many questions for this indescribable creative force of nature who had stories for days.
“I’m the 8th of 14 children. I came from very different people. I left home when I was 12 years old and I never came back. I was a strange little person roaming the streets. I need that angst, that irreverent attitude that counter-culture. I needed it. And I’m lucky I lived. I’m lucky I survived. In the end, I think that’s what made me an artist.”
Watch the full interview below:
“White Jesus Black Problems” will be released on June 3rd and is available for preorder on all your favourite music platforms.
Annette AghazarianShare this :