Xavier Dphrepaulezz has seen a lot in his time. From the car crash that left him in a three-week coma and incapacitated his guitar hand, to the socioeconomic tribulations across the country, the Oakland native has absorbed plenty of hardships. All of those hard times get funneled into The Last Days of Oakland, Dphrepaulezz debut album as Fantastic Negrito.
The record, due out June 3rd via Blackball Universe, translates all those experiences into the very language of American music. It’s a smoky blend of blues, roots, and soul first demonstrated on lead single “Working Poor”, and again with new track “About a Bird”. Smoldering piano pound in the gothic blues song as Dphrepaulezz delivers his lyrics with a cadence that would make Danny Elfman take notice. It all burns in the hot ambers of a man who’s found his voice in the lowest of places, especially as he calls out, “Ohhh, take a chance on me/ Because no one else will.”
Just as the music touches on a rage of styles, so too do the lyrics cover a variety of themes. “‘About a Bird’ is really a song about extreme narcissism, the danger of ego and self-importance,” Dphrepaulezz explained. “It is a song about mental illness as well. In the end, it is a desperate plea to be loved.”
You can catch Fantastic Negrito live this summer at BottleRock Napa and Outside Lands (where his return will be triumphant after last year’s fiasco). The band will also be making their national television debut with an appearance on next week’s episode of Empire; check that out April 27th on Fox.