From his early years on the streets of Oakland, California and sneaking into college classrooms to continue his mostly self-taught music education, Fantastic Negrito has come a long way in his career but has still kept the impassioned grit that has always characterized him. Most recently he was the recipient of the 2019 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album for his third studio album, Please Don’t Be Dead; well-deserved prize for a masterful production.
This week’s video comes from a performance for the TuneCore Austin Takeover in 2016. “Lost in a Crowd” comes off his second album The Last Days of Oakland, a politically-charged piece that aims to confront the drastic changes his hometown has been experiencing. While he’s been active since 1997, this particular song garnered him national attention when it was declared the first winner of NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Contest in 2015.
In this rendition, Fantastic Negrito hits the ground running with a vocal imitation of the guitar, evoking a sort of growl that lets us know what kind of intensity he’s going to be bringing, even before he sings the first note. But he undoubtedly follows it through with his spellbinding croon and ardent presence on stage. It’s hard not to get caught up in his infectious energy.