At Byron Bay Bluesfest, Australia, 2016
|Birth name||Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz|
|Born||January 20, 1968|
|Years active||1996–2007, 2014–present|
Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz (born January 20, 1968), better known by his stage name Fantastic Negrito, is an American singer-songwriter whose music spans blues, R&B, and roots music. His 2016 album The Last Days of Oakland won a Grammy award for Best Contemporary Blues Album at the 60th Grammy Awards. In 2019, his album Please Don't Be Dead won the same category for the 61st Grammy Awards.
Dphrepaulezz was born in western Massachusetts, the eighth of fifteen children. His father was a deeply religious Somali Muslim who, Dphrepaulezz recalls, had "a lot of rules" for his children. Dphrepaulezz and his family relocated to Oakland, California, when he was 12 years old. He began selling drugs as a teenager in Oakland, telling the Guardian, "We were all selling drugs, man. We all carried pistols. There was a crack epidemic. [....] I was the kind of kid who would sell fake weed [...]. Sometimes I would use tea." 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.
Dphrepaulezz signed an early record deal with Prince's former manager. In 1993, he signed with Interscope Records. On January 9, 1996, he released his first album, The X Factor, under the mononym Xavier. The album was released on Lexington House Records and distributed by Interscope. He was in a near-fatal car crash in 1999, which left him in a coma for three weeks. He has said that he felt that this crash "released" him because Interscope terminated their contract with him, after which he set up an illegal nightclub in South Central Los Angeles. In 2007, he stopped making music, but he returned in 2014, describing his new musical style as "black roots music for everyone". In 2015, he won NPR's Tiny Desk Contest. In 2016, his album The Last Days of Oakland was released on the Blackball Universe label. Dphrepaulezz won his first Grammy in 2017, when The Last Days of Oakland received the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album. He won his second Grammy with his next album, Please Don't Be Dead, which won "Best Contemporary Blues Album" at the 2019 Grammy Awards.
- The X Factor (Interscope, 1996) (as Xavier)
- Fantastic Negrito (Black Ball Universe, 2014)
- The Last Days of Oakland (Blackball Universe, 2016)
- Please Don't Be Dead (Cooking Vinyl, Black Ball Universe, 2018)
- "Fantastic Negrito on Instagram: "Happy birthday to me! Hope to see y'all @thenewparish next week Sacramento Mexico Brazil #fantasticnegrito #negritonation #blues…"". Instagram. Retrieved February 11, 2019.
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- "61st GRAMMY Awards: Full Nominees List". GRAMMY.com. 2018-12-07. Retrieved 2018-12-08.
- "61st Annual GRAMMY Awards". GRAMMY.com. 2018-12-06. Retrieved 2019-02-10.
- Vaziri, Aidin (2015-04-28). "Fantastic Negrito: Oakland musician lives up to new name". San Francisco Chronicle.
- Paphides, Pete (2016-08-02). "Fantastic Negrito: the drug-dealing hustler who became Bernie Sanders' favourite bluesman". The Guardian.
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- Borzillo, Carrie (1996-01-20). "Popular Uprisings". Billboard. Vol. 108 no. 3. p. 17.
- Loss, Robert (2016-07-13). "Fantastic Negrito's "Working Poor" Is the Soundtrack to the Summer of '16". PopMatters.
- Pereira, Alyssa (February 12, 2017). "Fantastic Negrito wins first Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues album". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved February 19, 2017.