Tinnitist TV | Episode 52: Fantastic Negrito

The Grammy-winning artist on his ambitious new album, ghosting Sting & more.

Fantastic Negrito’s story is just as incredible and colourful as his name.

Born Xavier Dphrepaulezz and raised in Oakland, he sold drugs as a teenager. He taught himself to play music by sneaking into college classes. He signed a deal with Prince’s ex-manager and made a major-label album that flopped. He was in a near-fatal 1999 car crash that left him in a coma for weeks and damaged his guitar-strumming hand. Then, after running an illegal L.A. nightclub, he returned to music and promptly won NPR’s first Tiny Desk Contest. Since then, he’s released a trio of acclaimed LPs — each of which has won the Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album. With his latest album, Dphrepaulezz is adding a new chapter to this remarkable tale. An album 270 years in the making, White Jesus Black Problems was inspired by the courageous real-life love between his seventh great-grandmother — a white indentured servant — and an unnamed black slave. A tale of love conquering all, it’s easily his most personal work to date. And his most ambitious — it comes accompanied by a full-length film that puts the tale in context. A few weeks ago, he kicked off several days of interviews by talking to me about crafting the record, ditching Sting to make this album, how he feels about winning another Grammy, and where his story goes from here.