Today, three-time Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, musician, and activist Fantastic Negrito (neé Xavier Dphrepaulezz) unveils “Oh Betty,” the second single from his forthcoming studio album and film White Jesus Black Problems, out June 3 via Storefront Records. The multimedia project is based on the true story of Negrito’s seventh-generation white Scottish grandmother (Grandma Gallamore), an indentured servant, living in a common-law marriage with his seventh-generation African American enslaved grandfather (Grandfather Courage); in open defiance of the racist, separatist, laws of 1750s colonial Virginia.
“Oh Betty” speaks directly to the couple’s struggle, highlighting the hardships and adversity endemic to any bi-racial relationship in that era. In the music video, Grandma Gallamore meets with Grandfather Courage in the woods in secret, stealing intimate moments of companionship and understanding. She brings him cornbread, all she can steal away for him, and, as the two lay together in a makeshift shelter, their respective burdens of subjugation fall away. These tender vignettes are intercut with Negrito and his band performing on top of a wired-in chicken coup. Negrito’s country-soul groove and dynamic vocals permeate throughout, further immersing the listener in his hypnotic soundscape of blues-inspired guitar riffs, punchy bass, and driving syncopation.
Fantastic Negrito on “Oh Betty” – “This was a very emotional song to record. It’s the story of my grandfather, of his humanity. He’s toiling in captivity and the only light at the end of this dark hallway is his love, Betty Gallimore, and he won’t give up on her. So that’s Grandpa Courage reaching out and singing that ballad.
In the movie, there’s a scene where she meets him in the forest and gives him cornbread from the house. When you think about the garbage that enslaved people were fed back then, the taste of that sweet cornbread must have been the taste of love. And for Grandma, sneaking that food to him was an act of true love, as well. So it’s a song of love and longing, but also doubt and fear.”
Alongside the announcement of White Jesus Black Problems last month, Fantastic Negrito shared the album’s lead single “Highest Bidder,” a track tackling themes of racism, capitalism, and the meaning of freedom itself via African rhythms and Delta blues. The announcement and single were met with praise from NPR All Songs Considered, Pitchfork, Billboard, Spin, American Songwriter, Consequence, San Francisco Chronicle, and more!
Pre-Order White Jesus Black Problems HERE