Published Jun 18, 2018With his fourth album as an artist, the musical reinvention of Fantastic Negrito is nearly complete. The man born Xavier Dphrepaulezz from Oakland has found his sound — a crackling take on traditional rock, blues and soul that earned him a Grammy for 2015's The Last Days of Oakland.
Please Don't Be Dead is a reference to his involvement in a near-fatal car crash in 1999 — which left him in a coma for three weeks — and subsequent rebirth as a musician with a renewed outlook on life and career.
The album leans on hard rock, with traces of Queen, Prince and the Delta Blues sound. "Never Give Up" feels like a Freddy Mercury riff, "Bullshit Anthem" is a cross between Parliament funk and '60s rock, "Plastic Hamburger" feels like a lost Lenny Kravitz cut and only comes off harder and more legitimate. "Bad Guy Necessity" is straight up mudfoot blues — "Everybody needs a bad guy" he nonchalantly maintains.
Underscoring the proceedings is a heightened awareness of the social ills of the present and a palpable fear for the future. "A Letter to Fear" dives deep into the politics of a broken world, "The Duffler" chimes in with a sinister vibe under a theme of regret and love lost, while "Transgender Biscuits" explores and equalizes gender, ethnicity and creed. Please Don't Be Dead is virtually airtight in terms of musicality and intent. Fantastic Negrito continues to live to his "black roots" moniker — a weary, weathered soul survivor raging against the coming storm. (Cooking Vinyl)