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Fantastic NegritoFantastic Negrito
Album: The Last Days Of Oakland
Label: Cooking Vinyl
Tracks: 13
Website: www.fantasticnegrito.com

A re-issue of Fantastic Negrito's debut/current album is a partnership between Cooking Vinyl and his Blackball Universe imprint. An artist with the weight of a Grammy behind him (Best Contemporary Blues Album Award), it comes with two new tracks as he heads to Europe, including the prestigious Cambridge Folk Festival.

Anyone who caught that performance might still be in recovery. That's folk music!? It was a performance that will have had Cambridge Folk Fest Operations Director, Neil Jones puffing his chest out after highlighting FN as the 'one to watch' in this year's programme. A cross between Prince and everything that's good (and bad) about rock and soul, it was a mesmerising and impossible to ignore showcase even in the light of a Saturday afternoon. And now you get to discover the take home version.

Fantastic Negrito is the latest in a series of musical alter egos of Xavier Dphrepaulezz; 'The Last Days Of Oakland' a Prince inspired set of intense soul, blues, funk and roll invocations packed with dense grooves as Xav takes a trip through the gamut of styles. Attempting the impossible in capturing the live raw sexual energy of 'Scary Woman, one that might have caused a few brows to break a sweat amongst the faithful Cambridge folkies alongside the swampy grid of 'The Nigga Song', the album versions provide the foundation for their penetrating and potent live rendering.

The band pay homage with a raw and stark delivery on the folk blues classic 'In The Pines' and a rudimentary, less is more arrangement is at the roots of the barely disguised grind fest of 'Hump Through The Winter' combined with a nod to the usual bluesman topics of the lot of the working man and his woman.

The inclusion of the two new tracks 'Push Back' and 'The Shadows' are merely icing on the cake and simply ensure that our cup overfloweth. An artist who runs an arts collective in Oakland, an advocate of unification and strength in diversity, his "one world, one love, one race" philosophy housed in a musical coating, is totally compelling and convincing. 'The Last Days Of Oakland' stands as Fantastic Negrito's definitive and redemptive statement.

Mike Ainscoe