As, so as we live through these divisive socio-political days with polarising political figures at the helm and the rights of everyone at the forefront of people’s minds and protests, so art reflects that. In the same way, in differing times but similar unrest came the likes of (amongst others) Sam Cooke singing ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’, through Marvin Gaye and What’s Goin’ On and Prince’s seminal Sign O The Times, so aiming for that high bar of black American music is two time Grammy winner Fantastic Negrito.
It hasn’t been easy for Fantastic Negrito, aka Xavier Dphrepaulezz, the man behind the record. Walking a tightrope with first the law and then his life, after being in a collision with a drunk driver that left him in a coma for almost a month, and wrecked his guitar playing with a hand injury.
From the off, though, Have you lost your mind yet? shows that despite this adversity his third album under this moniker surpasses his previous work, work that has provided him lets not forget with 80 million streams and two Grammy awards. At home crossing genres, he seamlessly transverses soul, hip-hop, funk, rock and gospel music, sometimes all at once making the stories and portraits and plea’s about modern life.
Opener Chocolate Samurai works like a part Stevie Wonder records, part g-funk, part blues rock, with his soulful, almost gravelly voice pulling the melody along. Follow on I’m so happy I could cry, contrasts with its gospel strut, while the brilliant How Long is a real downtempo soul shaker, Negrito scolding this new generation of hate infected within social media.
Elsewhere there’s the poignant half minute vignette Justice in America, where the spoken words In America there is justice just as long as you have money,’ are accompanied by a rabid Negrito chanting the word Money over and over again.
Your sex is overrated sees him make like prince, while the psychedelic soul of Platypus Disaster could be Lenny Kravitz at his very best. By the time the joyous sounding, thought provoking King Frustration ends, with the guitars and organ (a feature throughout) weaving in and out of eachother, it brings to an end a brilliant, breathless, provocative and inspiring record.
Where this sits among the pantheon of records and songs mentioned earlier only time will tell, but as a record of 2020 and black music within that, Have you lost your mind yet? is a torchbearer.
Have you lost your mind yet? is out August 14th via Cooking Vinyl / Blackball Universe