By Kieran Webber
It is fair to say that blues music has inspired nearly every artist of today in one way or another, I would even argue that it is one of the most important genres of music to have ever been birthed. As a rule of thumb, blues music is tough yet soft, emotive but brash, but most importantly it tells a message or a story and 9/10 times it is one of importance.
There have been few modern artists that have harnessed the raw emotive power of blues music but Fantastic Negrito (lead by Xavier Dphrepaulezz) is the exception, his soulful songwriting and emotive delivery is a shining example that the blues still lives in some of us.
‘The Last Days Of Oakland’ is close to a masterpiece, from beginning to end you are taken on a chaotic journey, a story that resonates to any working class person but its focus being on the suppressed masses of America.
Opening with a litany of whats good and bad in Oakland, a theme that flows through the album, a clear attack on the gentrification of the city that many on this side of the pond can releate to (see East London). This acts as the calm before the storm as the tirade of blues that is unleashed upon the listener is a ferocious storm of tasty riffs, soulful vocals and raw unapologetic energy that takes no prisoners.
What stood out the most was Xavier’s ability to dip and dive through genres, the album grabs infuence from R&B, Soul, Gospel, Blues, rock and dashes of funk and boogie. For example tracks such as ‘Working Poor’ is a thumping blues number, ‘Scary Woman’ is a funk laden track that is certain to get the hips shaking, whereas ‘About A Bird’ has an almost Zeppelin feel to it with the pulsing vocals from Xavier.
But one track stood out above the rest and that was ‘Hump Through The Winter’, from the trickling guitar and the explosive opening line “I Been Working Three Jobs Just To Pay My Bills” I was hooked, eager to hear what else Xavier had to offer.
To say ‘The Last Days Of Oakland’ is impressive would be an understatement, the album blasts down the door to bourgeoisie and holds them hostage with its lyrical content. It is this raw attitude that flows through the album that makes it so real, it is evident that this artist has experienced all he talks about whether it is directly or simply observed. He makes artists like Jack White look like pretenders, Fantastic Negrito is the real fucking deal.