Oakland’s Fantastic Negrito Takes Home Grammy for ‘The Last Days of Oakland’

fantasticnegrito
Courtesy of Fantastic Negrito via YouTube

Oakland musician Fantastic Negrito took home a Grammy Award on Sunday for Best Contemporary Blues Album, a first for the singer-songwriter.

The guitarist, whose real name is Xavier Dphrepaulezz, won for his album “The Last Days of Oakland," a record that tackles politics, society, race and a changing Bay Area landscape through slide guitar riffs and urgent, sometimes anguished, vocals. He refers to it as “black roots music for everyone.”

“Clean my city,” he croons on “Working Poor.” “Me sell my soul/Him evil genius turned working people/Into the working poor.”

Dphrepaulezz also remixed Lead Belly's classic folk staple  “In The Pines" on the album, transforming it into a gut-wrenching lamentation about Black women losing their sons to police brutality.

He released a nine-minute mini-documentary for the song, the visuals for which were fittingly shot in Oakland. 

His acceptance speech was not part of the televised broadcast, but the musician tweeted a cell phone video that captured the triumphant moment. 

“Oakland, California!” he shouted from the stage. “…We didn’t have a record company; we did this right from our living room. We put in a lot of heart, a lot of soul, and we’re so glad that it resonated with people.” 

Dphrepaulezz later took to Twitter to share a picture of him holding the gilded gramophone, captioning the post “I won!” He noted that he was “a little choked up” and was traveling from London to Paris. 

More than a dozen Bay Area artists were honored with Grammy nods on Sunday. Check out the full list of nominees here.

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