r&b Archive

Fantastic Negrito: We Can Turn It Around (Part 4 / conclusion)

Continued from Part Three… And even though Fantastic Negrito is now a high-profile Grammy-winning performer and recording artist, he still feels and maintains a close connection to that neighborhood. “The people I started my collective label [Blackball Universe] with, they’re all guys I grew up with,” he says. “We did everything – committed crimes and

Fantastic Negrito: We Can Turn It Around (Part 3)

Continued from Part Two… The production on The Last Days of Oakland is “boxy,” and Xavier says that that quality is a deliberate aesthetic choice. “I wanted it to feel like I’m sitting right in someone’s living room,” he says. And I tried to minimize production; I was really going for a sense of urgency,

Fantastic Negrito: We Can Turn It Around (Part 2)

Continued from Part One… A 2014 EP titled Fantastic Negrito debuted Xavier’s new approach. Ostensibly blues, the five-song EP draws from a wider array of influences. Released to enthusiastic critical notices, the EP created a buzz but didn’t break through on a large scale. Undaunted and sure of his musical direction, Xavier created a low-budget

Fantastic Negrito: We Can Turn It Around (Part 1)

(An edited version of this feature appeared in print in Living Blues Magazine.) All photos © Audrey Hermon Kopp Fantastic Negrito is a a lot of things. On the surface, he’s a stage persona, the human means of delivery for songs that chronicle the realities of life. But dig deeper and you’ll find Xavier Dhphrepaulezz,

Album Review: Taylor James — Insane

For me, the use of numbers and capital letters in place of, y’know, actual words is a red flag: it was kinda dumb when Prince did it, and it’s wholly unoriginal now, a generation later. So the discovery of the opening track “Back 2 U” caused me to lower my expectations in regard to finding

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ Out-of-print 1990s Recordings Get a Reissue (Part Two)

Continued from Part One… Several of the songs feature a female voice in the mix, engaging in a sort of vocal sparring with Jay. What’s the story on that? He would bring his wife into the studio. And It was hysterical when those two started communicating! She’s in the background. She would go out there

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ Out-of-print 1990s Recordings Get a Reissue (Part One)

Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (born Jalacy Hawkins in 1929) is one of those artists whose influence would far outpace his commercial success. Trained as a classical pianist and singer with an operatic range, Hawkins instead gained notoriety for his outlandish persona and over-the-top vocal style, exemplified by his 1956 single “I Put a Spell on You.”

The Fire Still Burns for the Animals’ Eric Burdon

Many of the bands considered part of the “British invasion” of the mid-sixties drew from American rhythm & blues or soul. Some, like the Beatles, filtered those influences through their own musical sensibilities, creating something completely new in the process. Others – the Rolling Stones, for example – built upon a r&b foundation, initially playing

Album Review: Little Willie John — Fever

Little Willie John’s time in the spotlight was relatively brief; his album-making career on King Records lasted only from 1956 to ‘62. His debut LP, Fever, founding him roaring out of the gate: a dozen songs, all killer, no filler. Albums weren’t the primary musical format in ‘56, so Fever is to some extent a

Album Review: Johnny “Guitar” Watson – s/t

When one thinks of the bluesy masters of the electric guitar, the name Johnny “Guitar” Watson is sure to be mentioned. Watson’s second guitar LP mines a variety of styles; “Posin’” feels a bit like Philly soul, with massed backing vocals and Watson’s blues-shouted lead vocal. But when the master of the Stratocaster launches into