Fantastic Negrito’s “Please Don’t Be Dead” album on Cooking Vinyl records, for all intents and purposes, is autobiographical magnificence. Self written and produced, the tale it tells, is a vastly important one. It’s an acknowledgement of life’s troubles, but more importantly a celebration of life, and a testament of positivity in the face of adversity.
Xavier Dphrepaulezz (otherwise known as Fantastic Negrito) really shouldn’t have been here to record this album. He could have easily been dead. A victim of a horrific car accident in 1999, Dphrepaulezz suffered injuries that left him in a coma and with extensive hand injuries that left him with permanent nerve damage. Dphrepaulezz’s influences come from an all too common back story of a youth filled with family issues, drugs, and hustles. While important, to focus too long on the back story is a disservice. The real story of Dphrepaulezz is the message of hope and optimism that he continues to share with his listeners.
It’s best when listened to in its entirety. “Please Don’t Be Dead” packs far more of a punch that way. There are no “throw away” tracks here. But if you insist on standout or must listen too tracks, the first track is a good one to start with. “Plastic Hamburgers” opens the album with no hesitation musically or in subject. The Lenny Kravitz-esque guitars capture your attention while the lyrics tackle opiod addiction. ‘American pills will wreck and kill’ ‘Do you, do you understand?’ Yet the song gathers its true energy from the repeating chorus of ‘Let’s break out these chains, lets burn it down’, a mantra of solution through responsibility.
“A Letter to Fear” addresses the need to ‘carry on’ regardless of what ‘you do to me’. Whether that’s mass shootings, oppression or simply an apathy to current events, hope must not succumb to fear.
“A Boy Named Andrew” is captivating with its anthem like middle eastern themed sing-along chorus.
“Transgender Biscuits” tackles accountability, judgment and identity. ‘I got fired because I’m a woman, I got fired because I’m black, I got fired because I’m a white man, I got fired because I’m fat, I got fired because I’m an asshole, I got fired because I’m gay, I got fired because I’m a Muslim, I got fired for being late.’ Musically, the song masterfully weaves in and out of a hip-hop rhythm, a soulful R&B groove and a Beatle-esque interlude.
“A Cold November Street” is about street life. Regret, homelessness, and survival. It’s presented bluesy and even theatrically. Dphrepaulezz again uses a simple haunting ‘I’m sorry’ loop to anchor the message and underlying issue within.
Songs of hope close out this must hear album. “Never Give Up” serves as an intro to the soul lifting “Bullshit Anthem”. If the catchy chorus of ‘Take that bullshit, turn into good shit’ and funky Prince like approach doesn’t make you smile and move, well you’re on your own.
This is an album that grabs a hold of you and really refuses to let you go. It’s an album that should seriously change how you listen to music, and the expectations you hold for what an album is. This is art in the sonic form resplendent in dualities. It is raw, it’s comforting. It questions, it provides answers. It’s political yet apolitical. It’s confrontational and welcoming. Yet, perhaps its greatest quality is in the ability of Dphrepaulezz to envision the human condition so well, while challenging your perception of what Americana, or even music as a whole should be. This isn’t some collection of songs and music just being played for a whim or mindless entertainment . It’s composed purposefully and deliberate. it’s subject matter is presented with a matter of urgency and directness that Dphrepaulezz no doubt saw as important. There are no happy accidents here. This is intentional, and ultimately, that is where it finds it’s beauty. More information on “Please Don’t Be Dead” and purchases of the album can be made via: