When it comes to blues, it has to be authentic. Of course all forms of art have much more impact when it’s coming from an honest place, but with blues it’s the main driving component. It’s one of the only styles of music that can be described as a genre but also an actual manifestation. Without the cold hard honesty that comes from a legitimate place in one’s soul, blues is no more than a tired cliche of “songs about a cheatin’ woman” stereotype. Anyone who has ever emotionally connected with blues, or God forbid, experienced the actual blues, can tell you that it’s more than a simple song. It’s the pains of life.
Last year,Xavier Dphrepaulezz (also known as his alter-ego Fantastic Negrito) kicked the indie door down with his explosive live show of soul anthems that beat out over 7000 other artists to win NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert contest. The win earned him opportunities most do-it-yourself musicians would die for, including an international tour, his music as a theme song for Amazon series starring Ron Pearlman, a guest spot on one of TV’s most watched shows Empire, and even a vinyl EP on Fat Elvis Records that found it’s way very near the top of my Top Ten EPs of 2015.
On his second single through Fat Elvis Records Working Poor, Dphrepaulezz proves that he is not just a one-trick-pony, utilizing social media buzz. He’s an honest to goodness artist a cut above many neo-blues acts that came before him. The title cut combines the soulful blues drive of Lead Belly and Robert Johnson, and the sinful swagger of Prince, with the distorted riff heavy guitars of Led Zeppelin to bring something that’s equal parts traditional and other worldly original. Side B’s foot stomping beat takes the EP to church, telling a story of oppression and uprising in way that makes you want to raise your fists in anger along with the narrative.
Legendary blues musicians didn’t just play the blues, they lived it. Most of them have stories of not just heartbreak and emotional struggle, but the physical and mental hard times brought on by racism and oppression among other other hardships. Dphrepaulezz’s story is no different but from a modern perspective. Throughout his life, he has sampled just about everything a person could live through. Hustling on the streets, getting held at gunpoint, trying to sell his music to anyone who would listen, a multi-million dollar record deal, a near fatal car accident, and even farming weed for survival. But where a lot of the legends didn’t live long enough to see the fruits of their labor, Dphrepaulezz has been fortunate enough to get a second chance.
Now his success is on his own terms. Instead creating a product formed by rich guys in suits, he now sings from the heart and wherever his soul takes him. The music he creates reflects the dark struggles of his previous life, as well as celebrating the beauty of redemption. Working Poor may only be two simple songs, but there’s more than enough soul and authenticity fill an artist’s entire career.
To purchase Working Poor on limited edition vinyl, please visit Fat Elvis Records
For more information on Fantastic Negrito visit his Official Website