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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.

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."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elle Mannion