Attentive lyrics that soothe is what comes to mind when someone speaks the name Raheem DeVaughn. As he serenades the woman across the generations and showers her with his many thanks-yous in his 2008 Grammy nominated single “Woman” or the dedication of every word in his song “You” to his love interest, you know right away that Raheem DeVaughn is man about loving and being loved, and that soul is not dead.
He’s one of few artists that has resurrected real soul music, and it might help that the New Jersey born, Maryland bred artist’s father is jazz cellist Abdul Wadud. No surprise to learn that his cousin is soul music’s little sister Chrisette Michele. DeVaughn has music literally flowing through his veins.
In his latest project, The Love & War MasterPeace, is set to be released March 2, 2010, you’ll find not just songs of love, but songs that deliver strong social messages like “Bulletproof” featuring Ludacris. Geniuses like Kenny Dope and Lil Ronnie helped to make The Love & War MasterPeace happen, and appearances from Jill Scott, Anthony Hamilton, Ledisi, Chico DeBarge, Dwele and more are anticipated, including Princeton University, Dr. Cornel West.
Raheem’s people hooked up with our people to talk a bit with the man behind the MasterPeace.
Clutch: So the vinyl sounds of your mother’s record collection hooked you on to music, huh?
Raheem: Yeah, she had some dope stuff that I was curious about, and would check out. I’ve always been musical, but I was definitely introduced to music through my mom and whatever she played.
Clutch: And you got to hang out with your dad, a musician, in the club?
Raheem: Yes. He was a jazz cellist. He actually put out a record in the 70’s called Me, Myself and I, and he would take me with him whenever her could.
Clutch: Was it while watching your father that you knew you wanted to pursue music?
Raheem: Nah, I’ve always had a passion for [music]. I really started pursuing music in high school. When I started college at Coppin State University, after three semesters is when became engulfed in music.
Clutch: Do you feel more at home in the studio or on stage?
Raheem: I like to perform. I’m not sure what I like doing more. I think both the stage and the studio are equally fulfilling.
Clutch: Any future collaborations with your cousin Chrisette Michelle?
Raheem: Chrisette’s on my new album. She’s on the song called “Nobody Wins a War.” I’ve also got a holiday record that I’ve yet to put out. I’m actually finishing that up now.
Clutch: What’s the “peace” in the in the title of your forthcoming album, The Love & War MasterPeace, mean?
Raheem: [The album] is half socially conscious and half love. Peace represents a couple of different themes: peace throughout the world and internal peace…and of course, you know, I feel like the album is a masterpiece.
Clutch: How do you feel about being compared to music greats like Marvin Gaye and Barry White?
Raheem: It’s an honor. I could never do what they’ve done, I’m just trying to keep the torch of the history they’ve created and what they stood for burning. I’m definitely trying to rejuvenate what they’ve done a little. That’s my goal at the end of the day.
“[My Goal] is to make consistent, timeless music; message music that reflects the age.”
Clutch: Who are your musical mentors?
Raheem: Definitely Marvin Gaye, Prince and Bob Marley are my top three.
Clutch: What details of this “masterpeace” do you especially love?
Raheem: There are 20 songs, so it changes daily, you know? I think my socially conscious songs are probably my favorite right about now. My favorite love song would be “B.O.B.”
Clutch: Do you feel this is your best work of art yet?
Raheem: I think it’s consistent with what I’ve already put out there.
Clutch: What is your goal musically for this age?
Raheem: To make consistent, timeless music; message music that reflects the age.
Clutch: When you’re writing for other artists, have you had moments when you’ve thought, dang! I should have kept this material for myself?
Raheem: No, I don’t do too much work for other people. I’m kind of funny about that. It’s got to make sense. The last time I probably wrote for somebody was Usher, and that was on his last album. This business is kind of fickle and people tend not to know what they want or they’re still trying to find themselves.
Clutch: I hear you’re going to be appearing on the big screen next season in the movie Who Do You Love. How does that feel?
Raheem: It’s dope. I play a recording artist named Andrew Tibbs, and it’s a great movie; can’t wait to see it. It’s a finished product.
Clutch: How will this movie be different from Cadillac Records?
Raheem: Who Do You Love is based more around the life Leonard Chess, whereas Cadillac Records was more about the artists.
Clutch: Now, I know our clutchettes, I especially, want to know if there is anyone special in your life?
Raheem: No, I’m single right now. [laughs].
Clutch: There are a whole lot of broken spirits and dreams deferred in our present time. What advice would you give to someone who feels that they’re always close, but never exactly where they want to be?
Raheem: You just got to keep pushing, and you’ve got to set realistic goals for yourself too. You can’t fly before you crawl, you know? Get out there and hustle. You’ve got to be ambitious, creative and constantly reinventing yourself. But don’t take no for an answer.
Visit Raheem DeVaughn’s virtual world at RaheemDeVaughn.com.
[Photo Credit: Randee St. Nicholas]