Fantastic Negrito Signing
Amoeba Berkeley - June 13th @ 6:00pm
Join us in welcoming Fantastic Negrito to Amoeba Berkeley on Wednesday, June 13th for a signing of his upcoming album Please Don't Be Dead, which follows his 2016 GRAMMY® Award-winning The Last Days of Oakland. Please Don't Be Dead releases on June 15th, but you can buy the album and get it signed two days early at this special event! Also catch him on June 15th at The Fillmore.
There is desperation and urgency in Please Don't Be Dead (arriving Friday June 15th via Cooking Vinyl and Blackball Universe). For anyone who ever felt like it was over yet hoped it wasn’t, this is your music.
“I wrote this album because I fear for the life of my black son,” said Negrito. “I fear for the lives of my daughters. I am uncertain about what kind of future they will face. Will someone shoot up their school? Will they become addicted to prescription pills? Will they wind up on the street, sleeping under freeways and overpasses? Will the police murder my son? I came up with the name Please Don’t Be Dead because I felt like we’d lost of our way as a society — and I know what happens when you chase the wrong things. It’s the story of my life.”
“With 'Plastic Hamburgers' I wanted to come out swinging,” added Negrito. With everything happening in the world, I wanted to take it head on. Addiction, guns, censorship, overconsumption. I wanted people to feel like this is our song, our rallying cry: let’s tear down the walls that separate us and face who we really are.”
Fantastic Negrito – a.k.a. Bay Area-based artist Xavier Dphrepaulezz (pronounced Deh-frep-aw-lez) – 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. Negrito was raised in an orthodox Muslim household, the eighth of 14 children of a deeply religious Somali-Caribbean immigrant. The family moved from western Massachusetts to Oakland, CA, when Negrito was just 12 years old, his new hometown’s vibrant black community providing a massive culture shock after what was an extremely conservative childhood.
Raised by the streets of Oakland, Negrito discovered a passion for music and by the time he was 20, had taught himself a range of instruments. Sensing that he was on the wrong path and fearing for his life, he knew he had to make a change so, armed with only his demo on cassette, he moved to Los Angeles where he eventually signed a million dollar major record label deal. Alas, his soulful music was not made for those times and his debut album – released under his own name – went largely unnoticed. His confidence shattered, he pondered his next move.
Tragically, fate intervened in 2000 when he suffered a near-fatal car accident that not only left him in a three-week coma, but also saw permanent damage to his playing hand. He fought hard, enduring hours of painful physical therapy, and in 2008, returned to Oakland where he embarked on a new life as an urban farmer growing vegetables and other, more profitable, green matter.
The birth of his son inspired Negrito to once again pick up his guitar, and encouraged by his childhood friend, co-founder/co-owner of artist collective Blackball Universe, and Empire writer/producer Malcolm Spellman, Negrito began exploring the roots of black music, ultimately winding back to the original source, the DNA of all American music: the blues. But rather than simply updating the Delta blues, Fantastic Negrito 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.
Dubbing himself Fantastic Negrito, he took to the streets once more, to test his songs and sharpen his message. Bay Area shows with a proper band followed and in 2015, he entered and won NPR’s inaugural Tiny Desk Concert contest, triumphing over 7,000 other entrants. In 2016, he self-produced and self-released the debut Fantastic Negrito album, The Last Days of Oakland, which scaled unimaginable heights, eventually going on to earn the aforementioned GRAMMY® Award for “Best Contemporary Blues Album” and ecstatic praise around the globe.
Fantastic Negrito has spent much of the past two years on the road, including sold out headline shows, stage-stealing festival performances, and a series of North American and European tours supporting his great supporter and friend, the late Chris Cornell as well as Cornell’s legendary supergroup Temple of the Dog. He also opened for Sturgill Simpson and many others. A wide range of international live dates are listed below, including major market headline shows and such festivals as Pasadena’s Arroyo Seco Weekend, Newport Folk Festival, Afropunk, as well as the album release event at the historic Fillmore in San Francisco.