Free at Noon Flashback: Fantastic Negrito speaks out and rocks out at World Cafe Live

Fantastic Negrito | photo by Senia Lopez |

For most listeners, their introduction to Fantastic Negrito was likely his Tiny Desk Contest-winning performance of “Lost In A Crowd,” delivered compellingly from behind a workbench in front of some Bay Area freight elevator.

The version of the band that appeared onstage at World Cafe Live today was much more sophisticated in terms of fidelity, but one thing that hasn’t changed is Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz’s endledd charisma. He belted out vocals with bravado over songs that ranged from raw blues to gospel rock and more, and his banter was that of a pure showman.

“I only met my daddy two times in my life,” he said at the first break in the set. “The first time, he said ‘I’m not your daddy.’ The second time, he said ‘son, whatever you do in your life, stay out of Philadelphia. Why? It’s the women. They’re scary.'” A bit scripted in an insert-city-name-here way, but it made for a lively intro the blues ripper “Scary Woman.” Later in the set, Dphrepaulezz went off-book to talk about issues surrounding the state of the nation; the number one question he gets asked on tour, he says, is “What’s going on in America?” Continue reading →


Fantastic Negrito reveals desperation and urgency in his new album PLEASE DON’T BE DEAD

Fantastic Negrito | photo by Johnny Galvan | courtesy of the artist

“He’s the story of a man who struggled to ‘make it’, who ‘got it’, and who ‘lost it’ all.” Fantastic Negrito has been through hell and back over the years. The Oakland native has used his struggles as a tool to make meaningful, inspiring music through its narrative and sound, representing that old school blues rock and his black roots. After winning the inaugural Tiny Desk Contest from NPR Music, then his 2016 album The Last Days Of Oakland, Fantastic Negrito followed up with PLEASE DON’T BE DEAD via Cooking Vinyl and Blackball Universe.

The eleven track collection reveals desperation and urgency, and Fantastic Negrito says it is “for anyone who ever felt like it was over yet hoped it wasn’t.” He wrote this album based on his fears with the uncertainty of how his children’s lives will turn out due to the chaotic society we now live in. Each song shreds light on the darkness that waiting for you at every corner. Continue reading →


NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest is back for 2019

NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest | Courtesy of NPR Music

It’s that time of year again. The time for unsigned artists across the country to break out their video cameras, warm up their vocalizers and come up with the most original and captivating original musical performance from behind some sort of desk. “Why?”, you ask?  Because NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest is back for 2019, awarding one lucky winner a visit to NPR headquarters to play their very own Tiny Desk concert, and then come on tour with NPR Music with support from our sponsor, Blue Microphones.

Today at SXSW, NPR Music announced the return of the popular Contest. And for the first time ever, it’s open to artists 18 years and older. Over the past four years the Contest has received more than 22,000 entries from artists and bands across all 50 states. Continue reading →


#XPNFest announces more artists, incl. Natalie Prass and The National Reserve

Natalie Prass | photo by Tonje Thilesen // Fantastic Negrito // The National Reserve | photo by Michael Cooper // Forth Wanderers | photo by Julia Leiby // all photos courtesy of the artists

77 more days, 11 weeks left, a little over two months to go – however you want to say it, you better believe XPNFest is coming up quickly! Kicking off on Friday, July 27 across the river in Wiggins Park, NJ, the annual festival is returning for its 25th rendition. Today, we’re pleased to announce four more artists set to appear at the fest.

Joining the Wiggins Park crowd on Friday is Brooklyn’s The National Reserve, who just wrapped up a Free at Noon set earlier this afternoon. The Brooklynites show off their bluesy brand of Americana rock on their latest album, Motel La Grange, which just so happens to be out today. Give the album a spin if you missed the band’s set, or relisten to some of the tracks the band played earlier on air. Continue reading →


NPR’s 2018 Tiny Desk Contest is here


NPR Music has just announced the 2018 Tiny Desk Contest. Over the years, the contest has racked up thousands of submissions, and introduced the world to artists like Tank and the Bangas, Gaelynn Lea and Fantastic Negrito.

The contest is open to unsigned artists of any genre. Submissions will be open from February 20th to March 25th at 11:59 PM ET. You’ll need to create a video of you performing one original song at a desk, and upload that to YouTube along with your submission form. You can read all of the official rules here. Continue reading →


Chance the Rapper, David Bowie top nomination list for 59th annual Grammy Awards

Chance to Rapper at Made In America | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN
Chance the Rapper at Made In America | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN

Nominations for the 59th annual Grammy Awards were announced this morning, ramping up excitement for the February 12th ceremony.

As expected Adele has received several nominations including Record of the Year and Song of the Year for “Hello,” while her third LP 25 is up for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album.

Chance the Rapper and Anderson.Paak will vie for Best New Artist, with the former appearing again on both the Best Rap Performance shortlist for “No Problem” and the Best Rap Album shortlist for Coloring Book, while the latter’s Malibu appears in the Best Urban Contemporary group against Firefly Music Festival stand out Gallant and his Ology.

Continue reading →


Round two of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert contest is now open

tony desk concert
Fantastic Negrito in his video submission, winner of NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest 2015

Submissions are open for round two of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert contest! The folks at All Songs Considered are once again looking for creative interpretations of their regular live session series, which are usually filmed around host Bob Boilen’s desk at the NPR offices. The contest is open to all categories of musical acts that are currently unsigned.

Continue reading →


Does it matter that the Tiny Desk Contest winner was once signed by Interscope?

Fantastic Negrito, winner of NPR Music's Tiny Desk Contest
Fantastic Negrito, winner of NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest

Without a doubt, the Tiny Desk Contest was one of the most inspiring musical happenings of the past year.

After developing a global fan base with their uniquely-curated videos of unfussy, informal concerts held at producer Bob Boilen’s desk, the NPR Music team this winter opened up the floor to the public, inviting them to shoot their own DIY Tiny Desk-esque videos and submit them via YouTube for a chance to win a slot on the series.

On the one level, it felt like the small-time local heroes from around the country were being given a chance at stardom in that special, Tiny Desk kind of way. Beneath the surface a bit, those of us who work in music know that many of the artists already featured in the series are in the midst of some sort of press cycle, a national promotional push for whatever album they happen to be selling at the time.

As I said, it’s a well-curated run of videos, but most of the artists who make their way to Boilen’s desk are doing so with some level of industry connectedness in hand. Continue reading →