World Travel Tours

Life after Desk: Catching up with 2015 Tiny Desk Contest winner Fantastic Negrito

Xavier Dphrepaulezz, who performs as Fantastic Negrito, has always wanted to “tell the stories that will make us think; the ones that will make us grow.” He entered the first-ever Tiny Desk Contest in 2015 with that dream and a video he shot in one take. And after winning, Dphrepaulezz slowly began to realize how it would change his life — that there would “be a huge spotlight put on” what he was doing, he says. “It was going to be like busking on the streets — on steroids,” he laughs.

Since winning the inaugural Contest, Dphrepaulezz has gone on to headline world tours, win three Grammy Awards, release a handful of albums and become a catalyst for creativity in his local Oakland community. NPR Music recently caught up with him while on tour for his latest studio album, White Jesus Black Problems.

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Dphrepaulezz says the album was inspired by his desire to tell the story of his seventh-generation grandparents, an interracial couple who lived in Virginia in the 1950s. “It was a story of courage, a story of perseverance, a story of inspiration and a story of good old-fashioned, roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-something-done,” he shares.

One thing that has remained the same since winning the Contest all those years ago: his humility. “I have an attitude of gratitude,” says the multi-Grammy Award winner. “I don’t expect anything.”

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