Fantastic Negrito

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Fantastic Negrito
At Byron Bay Bluesfest, Australia, 2016
At Byron Bay Bluesfest, Australia, 2016
Background information
Birth nameXavier Amin Dphrepaulezz
Born (1968-01-20) January 20, 1968 (age 53)
Great Barrington, Massachusetts
OriginOakland, California
InstrumentsGuitar, vocals
Years active1996–2007, 2014–present

Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz (born January 20, 1968),[1][2] better known by his stage name Fantastic Negrito, is an American singer-songwriter whose music spans blues, R&B, and roots music.[3] His 2016 album The Last Days of Oakland won a Grammy award for Best Contemporary Blues Album at the 59th Grammy Awards.[4] In 2019, his album Please Don't Be Dead[5] won the same category for the 61st Grammy Awards.[6][7]

Early life[edit]

Dphrepaulezz was born in western Massachusetts, the eighth of fifteen children.[8] His father was a deeply religious Somali Muslim who, Dphrepaulezz recalls, had "a lot of rules" for his children.[9] Dphrepaulezz and his family relocated to Oakland, California, when he was 12 years old.[10] 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."[9] 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.[9]


Dphrepaulezz signed an early record deal with Prince's former manager. In 1993, he signed with Interscope Records.[9] 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.[9][11] He was in a near-fatal car crash in 1999, which left him in a coma for three weeks.[3] 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.[9] In 2007, he stopped making music, but he returned in 2014, describing his new musical style as "black roots music for everyone".[3] In 2015, he won NPR's Tiny Desk Contest.[10] In 2016, his album The Last Days of Oakland was released on the Blackball Universe label.[12] Dphrepaulezz won his first Grammy in 2017, when The Last Days of Oakland received the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album.[13] 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.[14]



  1. ^ "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.
  2. ^ "Fantastic Negrito 1968-". Worldcat.
  3. ^ a b c McFarland, K.M. (2015-09-17). "7 Facts to Know About Fantastic Negrito Before He Blows Up". Wired.
  4. ^ Pereira, Alyssa (February 13, 2017). "Fantastic Negrito wins first Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues album". SFGate. Retrieved 2018-12-08.
  5. ^ Ainscoe, Mike (2018-03-26). "Fantastic Negrito: Please Don't Be Dead – album news".
  6. ^ "61st GRAMMY Awards: Full Nominees List". 2018-12-07. Retrieved 2018-12-08.
  7. ^ "61st Annual GRAMMY Awards". 2018-12-06. Retrieved 2019-02-10.
  8. ^ Vaziri, Aidin (2015-04-28). "Fantastic Negrito: Oakland musician lives up to new name". San Francisco Chronicle.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Paphides, Pete (2016-08-02). "Fantastic Negrito: the drug-dealing hustler who became Bernie Sanders' favourite bluesman". The Guardian.
  10. ^ a b Heller, Jason (May 26, 2016). "Review: Fantastic Negrito, 'The Last Days Of Oakland'". NPR.
  11. ^ Borzillo, Carrie (1996-01-20). "Popular Uprisings". Billboard. Vol. 108 no. 3. p. 17.
  12. ^ Loss, Robert (2016-07-13). "Fantastic Negrito's "Working Poor" Is the Soundtrack to the Summer of '16". PopMatters.
  13. ^ Pereira, Alyssa (February 12, 2017). "Fantastic Negrito wins first Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues album". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved February 19, 2017.
  14. ^ "Oakland's Fantastic Negrito continues winning streak at Grammy Awards". Retrieved January 20, 2020.