Posted April 3, 2020 by Jeff in Tunes

Crowd-Sourced Social Distancing Footage in Fantastic Negrito Music Vid

Fantastic Negrito by Lyle Owerko
Fantastic Negrito by Lyle Owerko

Raised in an orthodox Muslim household, Fantastic Negrito (Xavier Dphrepaulezz) was born to a Somali-Caribbean immigrant who mostly played traditional African music. When, at the age of 12, Negrito’s family moved from Massachusetts to Oakland, California, he was hit with an intense culture shock.

By the time he was 20, Negrito had taught himself to play every instrument he could get his hands on. He’d eventually move to L.A., where he’d get a record deal.

In 2000, Negrito was in a near fatal car accident that left him in a coma. His muscles atrophied while bedridden and he had to go through months of grueling physical therapy to regain use of his legs. Rods were placed throughout his body. And worst of all, his playing hand was mutilated. In 2008, he returned home to Oakland, where he relaunched his career by busking on street corners and at BART stations during rush hour. He would win the inaugural NPR Tiny Desk contest, and he would garner the Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album in 2017.

At home social distancing with his family, Negrito felt a need to connect, so he decided to ask people to send him videos of what they were doing to keep themselves sane during this unprecedented time in history. He’s included the crowd-sourced footage in a video using his new song “Chocolate Samurai.” The rousing, feel-good number will appear on his soon-to-be-announced new album.


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at jeff@whopperjaw.net.