“I stand on the shoulders of my ancestors, both black and white, who showed me that anything is possible,” says Negrito. “There was a lot of ugliness in their story, but there was a lot of beauty, too, because in the end, they won. Love won.”
In fact, the name Fantastic Negrito represents his third rebirth, literally coming back from death this time. The narrative of this man is as important as the sound, because the narrative is the sound. Songs born from a long hard life channeled through black roots music. Slide guitar, drums, piano. Urgent, desperate, edgy.
Negrito burst onto the national radar by winning the inaugural NPR Tiny Desk contest in 2015, and has since won Grammys for all three of his albums: The Last Days of Oakland (2017), Please Don’t Be Dead (2019), and Have You Lost Your Mind Yet? (2021), which includes features from fellow Tiny Desk winner Tank (Tank and the Bangas) and Bay Area legend E-40. His latest singles are “Root City,” an anthem for the Oakland Roots Sports Club, and “Rolling Through California”, a rallying cry that calls for collective action in the wake of drought, accelerating climate change, and the growing calamity of California’s annual fire season.
Outside of music, Negrito puts his socially progressive lyrics into action. His Storefront Market, a monthly marketplace free of charge to the public, features vendors representing the community of West Oakland and surrounding neighborhoods. He also runs his own farm on his Oakland property called Revolution Plantation where he teaches the surrounding community to garden — an effort to pass on practices that can sustain local neighborhoods and our planet alike.
- Talk and Play with Fantastic Negrito