Fantastic Negrito - How Long?

Song of the Day
Hosted by Cheryl Waters

Today's Song of the Day, as chosen by Cheryl Waters, host of The Midday Show on KEXP, is "How Long?" by Fantastic Negrito, from the 2020 album Have You Lost Your Mind Yet? on Cooking Vinyl.

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photo by choc samurai
written by Janice Headley

With his past two albums, soulful singer/songwriter Fantastic Negrito (real name: Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz) won Best Contemporary Blues Album at the Grammy Awards, and with his latest LP, Have You Lost Your Mind Yet?, he's poised for a hat-trick. On his new album, Negrito says, "I wanted to write about people I knew, people I grew up with, people whose lives I could personally affect, and whose lives have impacted me," adding, "It was the hardest album I’ve ever written."

On today's Song of the Day, Negrito continues to ask the important questions; he tells Pollstar the title was inspired by author James Baldwin's query: “I haven’t got much time left – how long are we going to keep doing this?” He poses the question to "all perpetrators of violence," adding:

There’s so many topics. How long are we going to keep doing all the things we’re doing before we break? Because this is not very sustainable; because we can’t keep doing the same things we’ve been doing in this country for the last 40 or 50 years. You can only destroy, and that’s what we’ve done. It’s broken. Maybe this is just the catalyst for ending [white supremacy]. We’re in need of it. We need to turn it around if we’re going to survive.

I’m saying how long are you going to buy this shit? It’s easy to kill this brother because you’ve dehumanized him. That’s who I’m singing to in this song. Because he’s the perpetrator of the crime… There are good police officers and I’m not going to become the evil that I rally against. I’m not going to become the destruction that I oppose. ... But artists have to speak the truth. Are we enraged? Yes. Are we fed the fuck up? Yes, we’re fed up. Are we hurt? Yes, we are crushed. OK, now what’s next? What do we do with that?

There’s so much we can do with it. You have power. I have power. Every one of us has power. Every one of us is a part, and all these parts can have power. I can reach across the aisle and make a friend. We have so much power but we’re made – made – to feel like we are powerless. The first thing we have to do is acknowledge it. The same way that you have to acknowledge white privilege. Or the same way I have to acknowledge my bullshit. It’s how you begin to heal. The same way people have got to acknowledge we have to stop living in a culture of victimization and instead acknowledge our power. It is vast and it is deep. And it is healing.

But the hope is that we’re talking about this for a change. I know if you want to solve problems with the opposition, you start talking. Find compromise. Stop pointing fingers. Stop doing that and start communicating and get on the same page.

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