Fantastic Negrito’s crunchy take on blues and R&B channels the paranoia and despair of present-day American life, and on new song “The Duffler” the results are as sinister as ever.
The soon-to-be-released LP from Fantastic Negrito, Please Don’t Be Dead, is front man Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz’s plea to his country, one where he fears for the future and the safety of his children. “Plastic Hamburgers,” the album’s lead single, already set the tone with its images of gun violence, greed and corruption, which prompts him declare, “Let’s burn it down.”
“The Duffler” is a consequence, of sorts, from the denial and self-delusion that Dphrepaulezz sees as being symptomatic in his surroundings, but in a more interpersonal context than its predecessor’s social and systemic perspective. The narrator finds himself without a home or his loved one but looking for any way he can to put off the blame. “I’m gonna do it tomorrow,” he sings during the song’s quivering breakdown, “I’m gonna pay up.” But the proclamation isn’t convincing.
“‘The Duffler’ is a very familiar story, a story about someone having something and not appreciating it until it’s gone, when it’s too late,” Dphrepaulezz says. “Given current events, I think America is in that space right now.”
Please Don’t Be Dead is the follow-up to Fantastic Negrito’s Grammy-winning The Last Days of Oakland, released in 2016 after he’d won NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest. It arrives June 15th via Cooking Vinyl and Blackball Universe.
Fantastic Negrito is preparing to start a European tour this month, but will return to the United States June 10th to perform at the Chicago Blues Festival.