On the occasion of his return to Italy scheduled for the end of July, we contacted Fantastic Negrito to talk about his latest studio work "White Jesus Black Problems", an ambitious and impactful album, literally flowed spontaneously towards the artist, after having learned the story of his seventh generation grandparents. In constant evolution, Xavier is very focused on the present and on his projects parallel to music, which see him engaged on a social level.
Love and hope in the future are the basis of "White Jesus Black Problems", can you talk about the genesis of the album? Is there a new approach and vision compared to previous works?
This album was very different mainly because it was such an impactful story. Discovering this information about my family tree really changed my life. The album and a film came together from pure inspiration. The whole thing just took off, I basically stayed out of the way and let it happen.
How did the writing and registration process go?
The writing was purely organic, it was a speeding train and I just got on the train. As I said before I stayed out of the way and I let the writing, let the sounds happen, I let the songs tell the story of the incredible lives of my seventh generation grandparents. Every song was a chapter in their story. I think the best stuff happens when you stop chasing it.
In addition to blues rock and funk, many other influences are perceived, such as gospel, country and psychedelic soul, with a great wealth of detail and sound. Musically, which artists were you most inspired by while making the album?
On this album I was inspired by every artist from the 70s that pushed boundaries. David Bowie, George Clinton, Sly Stone… All the mind benders. It’s a concept album.
In the creative process of “White Jesus Black Problems” great importance was given to the visual part, how did the idea come about? And what aspects did you focus on the most?
The album did not start off visually but it really got there quickly. I felt a strong obligation to tell my grandparents' story in the most powerful medium that I could. So the film aspect just came naturally. I felt it was very important to narrate so the interstitial parts were perhaps the most important.
You currently have a lot of projects, like the Revolution Plantation urban farm, where the visual part of the album was set, and the independent label Storefront Records. Would you tell us about them?
I see Revolution Plantation and Storefront Records as integral parts of what I aspire to do and be. Philosophically what kind of tangible impact I can have on the world but first community that I live in. All in positive productive ways.
In "You Better Have A Gun" you talk about the issue of weapons in America, recently there have been "conflicting" developments on the matter, with an expansion of the right to arms by individual citizens, and at the same time slight restrictions on the access, and funding for school safety and mental health. What do you think about this?
In America we have a very, very serious gun problem and we have a very serious problem with violence. We need to look long and hard in the mirror and decide who and what it is that we want to be. The course that we are on now is extremely destructive. We are going fast on a road to nowhere.
An album and a book that are important to you.
"The Complete Recordings" of Robert Johnson and The Autobiography of Malcolm X.
Is there an artist or band you would like to work with?
Shortly before the pandemic you were working on a collaborative project with other artists, including Sting, will you start from this point, or should we expect something new for the future?
I don’t know what I’m going to do about that project of collaborative work. I’m sure I will pick up the pieces again. Right now my mind heart and soul are all about “White Jesus Black Problems”.
Today, with an incredible past and everything you have discovered about your origins, who is Xavier Dphrepaulezz?
I think Xavier Dphrepaulezz is exactly who he needs to be. Constantly evolving. Sometimes struggling, but always willing to do the work. He never gives up.