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Fantastic Negrito

USA

Extravagant, blues-influenced soulman

Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz already had a rather wonderful name. But by the time he released the album Fantastic Negrito in 2014, he now answered to that even more, erm, fantastic moniker. That record marked a fresh page in a life less ordinary. Raised in Massachusetts and California, Xavier’steenage years were filled with drug dealing and other crimesbefore music offered a diversion, an escape, a rescue.

After an unfulfilling spell with a major label, a near-fatal car accident left him with multiple broken limbs and in a three-week coma. Surprisingly, the accident acted as a springboard. Once recovered, Xavier opened an underground nightclub in Los Angeles and, a few years later, reinvented himself as Fantastic Negrito –a soulful singer drawing from the blues records that had beguiled him as a young kid. “I thought my story was over,” he revealed to the writer Pete Paphides. “But that was when I realised I finally had astory to tell.”