Smoky skies. Wildfires. The skyrocketing cost of living in the Golden State.
Oakland-based artist Fantastic Negrito has figured out a way to make a joyful melody about some of California's toughest issues.
The music video for "Rolling Through California," released last month and featuring fellow Oakland musician Miko Marks, shows a young boy dressed up as a firefighter, surveying a burned landscape. Fantastic Negrito appreciates the simplicity and honesty with which kids think about and process massive problems like climate change and the housing crisis.
Much of the video unfolds on a ranch owned by the Oakland Black Cowboy Association — a way to celebrate and highlight the role Black people played in shaping the American West.
The California Report Magazine's Sasha Khokha talked with Fantastic Negrito about his creative process — and why he remains hopeful and optimistic.
This conversation has been edited for brevity and clarity.
On how the lyrics for the song came to him
Fantastic Negrito: I remember it was, I guess, September 9th. That day of the red sky. It was extremely surreal and it felt apocalyptic and it felt like a message.
It felt like that something greater than us was speaking. And I just stood there looking at this bloodshot sun in the sky with this orange hue. I got my guitar and sat out there for a little while and I guess the riff just came to me. I wanted to tell the story of what was happening in the moment.