Fantastic Negrito is the incarnation of a musician who is reborn after going through – well – a lot.
In the beginning, Fantastic Negrito’s urgent, desperate and edgy songs were born from a long hard life channeled through slide guitar, drums and piano of black roots music. Raised in an orthodox Muslim household with a Somali-Caribbean immigrant father who mostly played traditional African music, at age 12, Negrito’s family moved from Massachusetts to Oakland and he he was hit with an intense culture shock. Negrito’s tastes transitioned from Arab chants to Funkadelic in one day and by the time he was 20, Negrito had taught himself to play every instrument he could get his hands on and recorded music until an encounter with a masked gunman led him to relocate to LA with nothing but his spirit and his demo tape.
It wasn’t long before Negrito found himself entrenched in the ‘Hollywood’ lifestyle and signed a million dollar deal at Interscope – which was ultimately a disaster (with Gangsta rap ruling the airwaves, Negrito was in the wrong place at the wrong era). Negrito came out of the deal with a failed album and his confidence gutted. He was infected by the constant emphasis on ‘what would sell’; which looks, hooks and gimmicks would attract an audience. He lost all sense of himself. The songs stopped coming to him, so he sold everything and quit. In 2000, Negrito was in a near fatal car accident that put him in a coma. Though he rehabbed intensely for several years, the damage was permanent. In 2008, he returned home to Oakland. Years later his conservative Muslim values melded with the liberal, multi-cultural world of Oakland and Negrito’s specific POV of the world came into focus – around the same time his son was born. With his son’s entrance into the world, all the creative energy Negrito bottled for years came rushing out. His musical choices were sharp and without doubt, and he’s since been recording without the hindrances that come with chasing trends.
You can check out Fantastic Negrito on Friday, August 28th at Lambert’s and you can stream him right here at KUTX!