When I asked Xavier Dphrepaulezz how I should refer to him in our pre-interview banter, he told me he’s always Fantastic Negrito unless he’s in his pajamas.
“And Matt, I am most definitely not in my pajamas!”
Even before the tape is rolling, when the conversations are informal with the two-time Grammy-winning musician (whose last two albums have won Blues Album of the Year), Negrito, as he is most often called, is filled with an activist’s ardor and clergyman’s cadence.
It was immediately clear to me that Negrito would close our first season of The Resistance once we began our conversation. Here was a man speaking—nay, preaching—from a lifetime of hard-fought battles with resistance. Record label woes. A car accident and ensuing coma. The inability to use his hand—to literally make music. Relearning it all after his supposed prime had passed him by.
Negrito has learned to sift through the silly for the serious, to put aside the concerns that don’t matter to stand militantly for the few things that do. He’s a transformed artist and the Grammy wins are simply the bits of hardware that tell him that we’re listening.
What began with a Tiny Desk contest win in 2015 has blossomed into one of the most dynamic and diverse catalogs of the last few years. It’s rock and gospel, hip-hop and soul laid atop Negrito’s foundation of funk while the statesman diagnoses societal ills and packs political punches.
We’re thrilled to close our first season of The Resistance with this revealing conversation with Fantastic Negrito—the lessons learned along the way and how the resistance looks to him at his most successful.
Matt Conner is a former pastor and church planter turned writer and editor. He’s the founder of Analogue Media and lives in Indianapolis.