Xavier Dphrepaulezz — the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who goes by the name of Fantastic Negrito — came out of nowhere in 2016 to win the Best Contemporary Blues Album Grammy for his breakthrough effort The Last Days of Oakland. If that wasn’t … well, fantastic enough, two years later he did it again, nabbing the same award for his equally superb followup Please Don’t Be Dead (a reference to a life-changing 1999 car crash that left him in a coma for three weeks). Needless to say, he’s probably a shoo-in to threepeat. And with good reason: Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?, his fourth Negrito outing, continues his seemingly unstoppable winning streak. As before, he joyfully fuse blues, rock, soul, funk, R&B, gospel and more into a musical gumbo reminiscent of Prince at his creative peak — and then topping it all with lyrics that cleverly address a myriad of social, societal, personal and political issues without pulling punches or coming off preachy. He might as well start drafting his acceptance speech now.
THE PRESS RELEASE: “Have You Lost Your Mind Yet? marks Fantastic Negrito’s most far-reaching work thus far, fusing elements of hip-hop, R&B, funk, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll into an incendiary synthesis all his own. Inspired by and reminiscent of the socio-political albums coming from Black America in the late 1960s and into the ’70s, the album sees Negrito exploring the struggle and complexities of mental health issues while continuing his long running lyrical examination of America’s increasingly broken social and political state of affairs. “On the first two albums I wrote about broad topics,” Fantastic Negrito says. “The proliferations of gun violence, the evil NRA, gentrification and homelessness, pharmaceutical companies that prey upon the people. On this album I wanted to write about people I knew, people I grew up with, people whose lives I could personally affect, and whose lives have impacted me. It was the hardest album I’ve ever written. What do I want to say to these people, and to the world? If I had the chance, I would tell them the pain they are feeling, the darkness they are going through is temporary — especially if you consider the span of a human life. I would tell them we can’t fight these obstacles alone. We need each other. Get offline. Talk to people. I would tell them I am here for you. We can’t hide from the pain. We need to look right at it. To really look into someone’s eyes is to feel their power and their vulnerability, to feel humanity, and to feel love.” Fantastic Negrito — aka Bay Area-based singer-songwriter Xavier Dphrepaulezz — is truly an artist for these times, a multi-talented, genre-agnostic original whose life and work embody the struggle, energy, truth, and creativity of black music. Though his music — like so much of American music — was born of the blues, Negrito has created something altogether new and unique, building bridges to the 21st century by weaving the original sounds of Lead Belly and Skip James with loops and samples of his own live instruments.”