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Fantastic Negrito adds to the black-expressionism renaissance with 'Please Don’t Be Dead'

It’s difficult to tire of the more traditional stylings when they’re delivered with Negrito’s characteristic zeal and impeccable groove.

Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz has only made a few records in his 25-year career, initially finding it difficult to find success with his Prince-inflected rhythm and blues during the ‘90s. Rebranding as Fantastic Negrito in 2014 after a lengthy and troubled hiatus, he coincided with the renaissance of black expressionism on the back of recent American turmoil, playing self described “black roots music for everyone”.

His latest LP, Please Don’t Be Dead, embodies this unique amalgamation of gospel-licked delta blues, spiced with hip hop and neo-soul. The record is wracked with a lifetime of desperation, paranoia and insatiable resilience. ‘Plastic Hamburgers’ is imbued with a scratchy kind of funk, a surrealistic rebuke of the chains of racism, addiction and capitalist hegemony. Its equation of these American brands of evil is an undercurrent to the entire record.

Deeper cuts hide some of Negrito’s most subversive arrangements – ‘Transgender Biscuits’ is a musical call for minority unity, crooning before diverting into sound collage, and snapping back to oily delta soul. These tracks hint at a musical idiosyncrasy that would be welcome in every track, but it’s difficult to tire of the more traditional stylings when they’re delivered with Negrito’s characteristic zeal and impeccable groove.

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