John Sieger
Sieger on Songs

The Fantastic Negrito Is… Fantastic

“The Duffler” is just one of many great songs by this blazing talent.

By - Sep 23rd, 2020 05:18 pm
The Fantastic Negrito. Photo by Bruce Baker / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

The Fantastic Negrito. Photo by Bruce Baker / (CC BY)

Here’s something about fifty years more current than the collection of Hall of Famers and obscure one-offs from Old Weird America I usually write about. Meet a blazing talent from New Weird America: The Fantastic Negrito.

As a non-journalist, I have no obligation to look up his birth name, and I kind of didn’t want to — I like a mystery. But to satisfy my curiosity and eliminate the miniscule chance this is the name he was given at birth, I looked it up — it’s Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz. That’s right, his real name is stranger than his made-up one. And speaking of fifty years, that’s about how old he is (52). Music keeps you young.

It was a recent campaign to get me to write about someone alive that got me looking for something fresh and, having watched a few of this guy’s videos, he passed that test easily. A hyper-active cross between George Clinton and Led Zeppelin, Negrito contains multitudes. The song I chose (sort of randomly — they’re all really good) is called “The Duffler,” Like much of his material, it’s located in the sweet spot where riff-rock and funk combine to make something new and cool. Take note: all of his videos feature songs and performances as entertaining as his last name is unpronounceable, you should think about wasting a couple hours watching them.

Now let’s see just what a duffler is, maybe the lyrics will tell us…

I don’t got no money
And I don’t got nobody
And I ain’t got no place to live no more
‘Cause she took everything

Welcome to my life
Welcome to my life

My friends tried to tell me
But now I’m so so sorry
And I blame all those things that are wrong with my life
On a conspiracy

Welcome to my life
I said I wanna welcome you into my life

I wanna come back home
It’s so sad to be alone
Can I come back home?
Oh, I wanna come back home
It’s so sad to be alone
I won’t do it again, and again and again

Oooh, come on
Do it tomorrow
I’ma pay up
I’ma do it tomorrow, yeah
Well, tomo-mo-mo-mo-mo-mo-mo-morrow
Take a piece of my life
Oh, welcome to my life

Please do not come, please
And then, don’t let them, let them change your mind

© 2020 Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz

Well, they kind of tell you what a duffler is. Fill in a few blanks and you find a character I think we’ve all met (or been) at times. I love how loose and casual his lyrics are; Negrito is a man of few words, a lot of them are funny. Would you trust someone who promises “I won’t do it again, again and again”? That should be the recidivist theme song. And this is just plain hilarious: “I blame all those things that are wrong with my life on a conspiracy.” I hope Q-Anon is listening.

When NPR does music, they always seem to be trying too hard to be relevant or hip. But they got it right when they gave The Fantastic Negrito a Tiny Desk Concert award. That show crams artists into a small office and nice scaled down performances are often the result. Watching Negrito absolutely own the new funky classic “Searching For Captain Save a Hoe” makes you realize we’re not joshing around with Norwegian bachelors in Lake Wobegon anymore. The level of derangement he displays in this song makes me worry he may flame out. But then I remember he’s ineligible for the 27 Club by a couple decades. Hendrix, Joplin and Jim Morrison will just have to wait to jam with him.

Somewhere behind the veil of blues and funk, you catch a glimpse of Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz, the eighth of fifteen children born to Somalian immigrants. Negrito toys with eastern scales and uses some oddly dissonant riffs. He was inspired by Prince, a self taught genius, to learn how to play and sing. I’m guessing by then he probably had a fair share of music from his ancestral home rattling around in his head and looking to get out. It gives just the right edge to his arrangements and keeps things unpredictable. The other influence you hear (and see) is psychedelic music, from both the white and Black camps. I always like that.

When I encounter an artist for the first time, I make a list of their influences in my head. When there are more than a few and they’re all favorites of mine, as is the case here, and the new guy also has a lot of his own stuff, plus the ability to perform it as well as The Fantastic Negrito, I say look out… a star is born! Now let’s stick around and see if he can too. It sure would be nice to have someone who is this much fun shaking things up for a while.

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One thought on “Sieger on Songs: The Fantastic Negrito Is… Fantastic”

  1. Joseph Alvarado says:

    Fresh! Thanks for the introduction.

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