As you well know, we’re pretty big fans of Fantastic Negrito around here at 50thirdand3rd. The black roots street performer turned headliner after winning NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Contest earlier this year, and boy are we glad. Now touring throughout the summer, Xavier Dphrepaulezz (his given name), is bringing the house down.
During last night’s show at the Rock and Roll Hotel, Fantastic Negrito stomped and hollered, shook and gyrated, hooted and moaned his way across the stage and at one point even into the crowd. A true performer, the 46 year old Oakland native belongs in front of an audience.
As we learned in last month’s interview with Dphrepaulezz, he is heavily influenced by “prison chants and negro spirituals” as well as Robert Johnson, Howlin’ Wolf, and Lead Belly. While his influences were evident, to include a moment where he chanted an altered version of “In the Pines,” Dphrepaulezz breathed new life into the old bluesy rock and roll with a pyschedelic twist that resurrected the soul of James Brown. Dphrepaulezz can belt, he can dance, and he brings a comedic sense of narcissism that woos his audience.
In a heavier moment, Dphrepaulezz began singing “A New Beginning” that with a hopeful tone addresses inequality. In an anecdote about people working several jobs and being a slave to the system, Dphrequalezz stood alongside artists like Kendrick Lamar who have also addressed continued discrimination and inequality in their releases this year. It was an honest moment, and the most mixed crowd I’ve seen in the still very segregated District affirmed those feelings and struggles, then danced with Dphrepaulezz into the next song.
I cannot emphasize the stage presence Dphrepualezz brought to the Rock and Roll Hotel; a presence that seems unfathomable from a man who admitted to the The Washington Post that he vomits before every performance out of nervousness. I’ve been lucky to see some amazing shows this year, and this one is competing for the top spot. Fantastic Negrito is working on a full length and is out today with a deluxe edition of his self titled EP.
You can catch Fantastic Negrito at any of these venues:
July 25– SummerStage, New York, NY
July 27– Brighton Music Hall, Allston, MA
July 29– Waterfront Park Great Lawn, Louisville, KY
July 31– Chattanooga, TN
August 1– High Watt, Nashville, TN
August 6– The Chapel, San Francisco, CA
August 8– Outside Lands Music & Arts Fest, San Francisco, CA
October 30– Voodoo Music Experience, New Orleans, LA
Follow Fantastic Negrito Here:
Or on Twitter: @MusicNegrito