soul 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,

Jorge Santana and Malo: For Real

Malo was a San Francisco Bay area band that combined Latin flavor with a brass section, giving it a sound somewhere between Blood, Sweat & Tears and Santana. In fact, on the group’s first four albums – all originally released on Warner Brothers Records – the lead guitar position was ably filled by Jorge Santana,

Hundred-word Reviews for September 2018

Time once again for some 100-word reviews. Please note that I receive many albums each day for review consideration; even when allowing for the fact that 80-90% of them don’t make the cut for coverage/review, there are still far too many to cover. What that means in practical terms is twofold: (1) the only way

The Ru-Jac Records Story, Part Two

Continued from Part One… Something Got a Hold on Me covers 1963-1964, the earliest years of Ru-Jac, ones that featured the Kay Keys Band, Little Sonny Daye, Brenda Jones, Parker, the Teardrops Band and several others. Most names won’t be familiar to most outside the Baltimore soul scene of that era, but the quality of

The Ru-Jac Records Story, Part One

Beginning operations in 1963, Baltimore-based Ru-Jac Records was an African American-owned and -operated record label. Founded by Rufus E. Mitchell and Jack Bennett, Ru-Jac was a singles-only label that released dozens of 45 rpm discs, primarily between 1963 and 1974. Much of the label’s output has remained largely unavailable since the label ceased operations in

EP Review: Sister Ivy – Plecia

Sister Ivy is an Asheville-based project, the nom de musique of Rachel Waterhouse. Sister Ivy has had a relatively lengthy gestation period: the group played its first gig some three years ago at the old Sherwood Music. But quality takes time, and the refined, sultry character of Waterhouse’s original music has surely benefited from the

Fifty-word Reviews for July 2018, Part 1

For years now, I’ve engaged in an occasional series of reviews in which I limit myself to 100 words. The point isn’t at all to give short shrift to these fine releases; instead, it’s to cover albums that would otherwise go unmentioned only for lack of time. Speaking of time, all of these releases are