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Mar 10, 2021

Born Xavier Dphrepaulezz in rural Massachusetts, by the time he was 11 the boy who'd come to be known as Fantastic Negrito was living on the streets of Oakland, bouncing between foster families, and running with gun-toting gangs.

An interest in music took him to LA in the early-'90s, where he ended up working with Prince's management team and signed to a $1 million recording contract. When he was injured in a terrible car crash and lost that deal, he made a living running an illegal nightclub in South Central LA.

Believe it or not, they're not the most remarkable elements of Dphrepaulezz's career.

He returned to Oakland in 2008, where he started an artistic collective called Blackball Universe and became an urban farmer. And one day, after not playing for years he picked up the only guitar he hadn’t sold and played it to his then infant son, and that’s all it took to relight his musical spark.

Dubbing himself Fantastic Negrito he started releasing albums, with 2016’s The Last Days of Oakland, and its 2018 follow-up Please Don’t be Dead, both winning Grammys for Best Contemporary Blues Album. At the time of publication, he’s up for his third Grammy for 2020's Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?.

Come inside the incredible career of Fantastic Negrito.