Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz has had a difficult life with many interesting ups and downs. He was born in Massachusetts and is one of fifteen children! The family relocated to Oakland, California when Xavier was 12 years old. Due to the rough area and growing up in a strict and overtly religious surrounding, he began selling drugs in his neighborhood at a young age. “We were all selling drugs, man. We all carried pistols. There was a crack epidemic.”
To get away from this life that would eventually lead him to jail or an early grave, Xavier turned to music and was captivated by Prince’s album Dirty Mind. From then on, he did everything he could to pursue his dream despite where he was living.
He fell into the music industry first with Prince’s former manager and later with Interscope Records in the early 90’s. At this time, he began going by the name Fantastic Negrito. He released an album with Interscope before being involved in a very serious car accident that left him in a coma for three weeks and with a damaged right hand. The label broke their contract with Fantastic Negrito after the accident which he viewed as a blessing. In 2007 he decided to leave his music career and supposedly went back to hustling and pushing drugs.
In 2014, at the age of 46, Negrito realized where his heart was and returned to the music world. He found Blackball Universe with Malcolm Spellman as they aim “to serve as support for struggling black artists.”
Now, he is currently one of the most popular modern blues musicians, winning a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album in 2017 for his album Last Days of Oakland. His latest release Please Don’t Be Dead is another masterpiece that displays what modern blues sounds like by adding soul, rock, and r&b flares. His music speaks of his hardships and struggles of being a minority or different in general.