Bay Area singer/songwriter Fantastic Negrito (Xavier Dphrepaulezz) and his interpretation of the Lead Belly classic “In the Pines” is featured in a docu-narrative film directed by Rashidi Natara Harper that focuses on the impact of gun violence in America. Recorded last year and filmed weeks before the shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, the film is now premiering at Noisey; view it at and share via YouTube at

“The song created an opportunity to express my deepest admiration for black women who bury their children due to gun violence, and all mothers throughout the world that hold the fabric of society together,” said Dphrepaulezz. “So many single mothers left to raise children alone, left to bury those children alone. I have never witnessed such strength and resilience.”

Harper goes on to explain, “We felt it was important to create a film that not only addressed the issue of gun violence but also considered a different approach to exploring and portraying the narrative. Personally, it would have been easy for me to get fired up and tap into my anger in order to create an explosive and divisive visual piece. Instead, Fantastic Negrito and I chose to ask a few simple questions. ‘What about the mothers of these victims of gun violence? What does it look like once the media circus is over, when they are left to pick up the pieces? What would an elegant, artful, sophisticated film focusing on humanity look and feel like? Most importantly, how can it move the national conversation into action to stop these senseless killings?’”

The film received its first public screening at YouTube Space NY as an official side event to the 71st session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The track appears on Fantastic Negrito’s critically acclaimed debut record The Last Days of Oakland (out now on Believe Global Label Services/Blackball Universe). Fantastic Negrito is set to tour North America throughout the fall; see below for a complete list of dates.

Dphrepaulezz recently made his national television debut as Fantastic Negrito on the season finale of Fox’s “Empire,” performing both his single “Lost in a Crowd”—the track that brought him to national attention, winning NPR’s inaugural Tiny Desk Concert Contest—and the hit song “Good Enough” alongside “Empire’s” Jamal Lyon. Watch/share the performance at

Known for his unique fusion of blues, soul, roots and rock music, on The Last Days of Oakland Dphrepaulezz tackles the socioeconomic, race and class issues he witnesses on a daily basis living in the East Bay. “Something has happened,” observes Dphrepaulezz. “We are in a new phase. An era has definitely ended and I can feel it in every major city I toured in the States. Black folks have moved out of the city in large numbers. The cities have become almost impossible to live in due to skyrocketing rent and high costs of living.” He also notes, “I feel the end of something always means the beginning of something new. I like my chances and I like yours in The Last Days of Oakland. It’s really up to us collectively if we choose.”

Upon winning NPR’s inaugural Tiny Desk Concert Contest, Fantastic Negrito quickly won over critics with 2015’s self-titled EP. Consequence of Sound wrote of the record “Dphrepaulezz sings like a man compelled by a spiritual force…[his] voice is impassioned, somewhere between a croon and a scream,” and the Washington Post praised the EP’s “raw vocals and self-assessing lyrics.” The San Francisco Chronicle noted that “almost overnight, the singer-songwriter became an international sensation.”

Dphrepaulezz hailed from an orthodox Muslim household as a child. After relocating from rural Massachusetts to Oakland as a teenager in the 1980s, he quickly moved from strict religion to the music of Funkadelic; by the age of 20 he taught himself to play just about every instrument he came across, and in the `90s, he signed a multi-million dollar deal with Interscope Records performing under his first name Xavier. Dphrepaulezz’s life changed drastically when he was involved in a near death car accident resulting in a three-week coma, followed by intensive physical rehabilitation with his guitar playing hand permanently incapacitated. After a five-year hiatus, Dphrepaulezz created Fantastic Negrito. Inspired by all American music, most especially Delta bluesmen such as R.L Burnside and Skip James, he sought to modernize his compositions by sampling and looping his own live recordings. He told NPR that the name is “a celebration of blackness. The ‘Fantastic’ is self-explanatory; the ‘Negrito’ is a way to open blackness up to everyone, making it playful and international.”


October 9                                                   New York, NY                                        Mercury Lounge

October 10                                                   Boston, MA                                     Café 939 at Berklee

October 12                                                  Toronto, ON                                    Velvet Underground

October 13                                                   Albany, NY                                      Cohoes Music Hall

October 14                                               Washington, DC                                   Rock & Roll Hotel

October 16                                                  Asheville, NC                                  Asheville Music Hall

October 18                                                  Nashville, TN                                              12th & Porter

October 19                                                 Memphis, TN                                              1884 Lounge

October 21                                               New Orleans, LA                                                 Tipitina’s

October 23                                                    Austin, TX                                           Stubb’s Indoors

October 24                                                    Dallas, TX                House of Blues Cambridge Room

October 25                                               Kansas City, MO                            Riot Room (Outdoors)

October 27                                                   Denver, CO                                                     Lost Lake

October 28                                              Salt Lake City, UT                                             State Room

October 29                                                 Las Vegas, NV                                    Bunkhouse Saloon


Director/Producer: Rashidi Natara Harper

Cinematographer: August Thurmer

Associate Producer: Kristian ‘Dior” Harper

Editor/Sound Design: Jeremy Leaird-Koch

Colorist: Santiago Padilla

Music: Fantastic Negrito


Fantastic Negrito – Xavier Dphrepaulezz

Renee Moncada McElroy – Mom

Thomas Makai McElroy – Son (Innocence)

Tywon Johnson – Friend (Persistence)

Cyrus Dizon – Friend (Determination)

Master Scott – Friend (Courage)

Mothers Who Lost Sons To Gun Violence:

Marilyn Washington Harris – Mother of Khadafy Washington

Lorrain Taylor – Mother of Obadiah & Albade Taylor

East Bay Dragons



“Ray Ray”



Xavier Dphrepaulezz, lead vocal

Tomas Salcedo, guitar

Nathan Pedley, bass

Joshua Nash, keys

DaQuantae “Q” Johnson, drums

Special Thanks




Lorraine Taylor

Marilyn Washington Harris

Zsa Zsa

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

Check Also

Ladders Releases New Enigmatic Single, “Dead Rose”

Alt-pop artist Ladders has just released her latest single, “Dead Rose,” an alternative pop track …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.