INTERVIEW: Have We Overlooked Raheem DeVaughn as One of the Greatest of His Generation?

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FromtheOH: Out of your entire catalog, what is your favorite song/album you have vs. what your fan base seem to like?

Raheem DeVaughn: I don’t have a favorite song. I don’t make music or projects to isolate it to one song.  When you listen to Raheem DeVaughn you’re getting the full menu; the appetizers, the 7-course meal, the dessert, the coffee in between, the whole nine.  I don’t make music to limit it to one song. My new album Decade of a Love King, 13 tracks that represent 13 years I’ve been in the game.  Each song represents a different time period for me; whether it was involving a matter of the heart or love, sex or passion.  I believe that it should be an experience.  I want people to feel about my music how I felt about when I grabbed Diary of a Mad Band (Jodeci’s album) or Boyz II Men’s first or second album.  Any of those favorite albums of ours from the 90’s. You can’t have the conversation of 90’s without adding R. Kelly.  I live in a time machine of the 90’s and the only thing I can kind of compare it to is that when you listen to my music, I want it to hit people (and when I say this, I don’t mean sonically because that’s kind of 2 different lanes). I’m one of those artists that figured out how to straddle the line between R&B and Soul Music.  So I have have tracks that are straight programming or I have tracks with a full all live band where I sing all of the vocals down, all the way down raw.  For me, I hope you get that 90’s time machine feeling with a new millennial twist to it.  I never want to be that guy that comes off as corny. 

FromtheOH: You've been in this game for over a decade and I'm sure you've had your share of successes as well as failures.  Can you give us an example of a failure of yours that you learned from and how did it change you and your process?

I’ve always felt like I’m one of the greatest of my generation and I’ve always felt overlooked or not acknowledged like I should be.

Raheem DeVaughn: I’m still learning.  It would be .. and not that I’m not a good business man but I wasn’t attentive enough to certain business things that I should have been attentive to. That I knew would come back to bite me in the ass.  In terms of family, my children; I wouldn’t necessarily say I have regrets but I lost time I can never get back chasing this dream, having this passion maybe even an addiction to music and this gift. From the moment my first album came out and went global, the notoriety I’ve had since 2005; being on a major label at the time I lost a piece of my life I can never get back.  That’s on a personal level; that’s as a parent, as a child to my parents. You give yourself to the world and you put so much out and I look up 10 years later and started asking myself the question like, “who’s been pouring into me while I’ve been pouring all of this into the world?”  Who’s pouring energy back into Raheem and whose going to be responsible for Raheem, who really loves Raheem and not for Raheem DeVaughn?  Those are growing pains, those are spiritual transitions coming to age of true manhood and what it means to be a man.  These are the epiphanies that I’m experiencing now and it’s a good feeling but a huge challenge in decisions I have to make now.  I’m thankful for the experience and it does help the music and the creativity, on and off the stage.

FromtheOH: All of your projects have one word in common, "Love" and I'm sure you've been asked this a ridiculous amount of times. What does "Love" mean to you?

Raheem DeVaughn: Love means a lot.  Nowadays, it means patience. It means growth. Having a life partner versus a soul mate. It’s the simple things.  It’s actions not perception.  I judge people based on their actions.  I get people that tell me they love me every day but if the actions don’t reflect that, it’s not really love. 

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FromtheOH: Decade of a Love King is your sixth studio album; what do you hope to accomplish with this project?  What do you want people to take away from it?

Raheem DeVaughn: I want people to know that we are on the cusp of a new decade of the Love King, I’m here to stay.  I think it’s safe to say I have staying power but the album title is not by accident.  That’s letting people know that I got enough music recorded for the decade and I can’t wait for the world to hear what I’ve been working on. This is the start of me putting out music more consistently, kind of operating how the new millennial hip hop artist operates.  In terms of quantity and quality.  I’m big on quality but I understand that we live in a world of quantity.  Peoples attention span is very short, so I put out this project October 19th but by January/February for my core audience, the project is old at that point.  Is that fair to say?

FromtheOH: I would say that’s fair to say. 

Raheem DeVaughn:  You see where I’m going with this?  So me being an independent artist and somebody that owns their work and masters.  I can make an album in a week or days.  I’ve done it. When I’m feeling creative, I gotta create.  I can’t sleep until I get it out.  So just like Kobe or Jordan shooting in the gym.  Music is my life.  I’m Kanye West crazy about music [laughs].  Now that I have the infrastructure that I need and that I’m happy with and understanding the digital process of it, it’s a wrap.  I’m finna’ be the greatest.

FromtheOH: I know you don’t have a favorite track but do you have one that means the most to you?

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Raheem DeVaughn: I don’t know, again it’s a body of work so I can’t wait for you to hear it in the order it’s designed to be listened to.  I will say this; poetically from a pen game standpoint, there’s a song called Love Sex Passion that I feel like I was on one when I did that record.  The fusion and the mesh of what it sounds like.  Like sonically, this album is kind of like my Prince Purple Rain album.  If I could compare it to something. 

FromtheOH: What do you credit towards your longevity within the music business?

Raheem DeVaughn: My patience. My discipline. My timing.  I’ve been kind of preparing for this moment all my life.  Nobody goes and records all of this music without some type of plan or intention.  My patience because I’ve always felt like I’m one of the greatest of my generation and I’ve always felt overlooked or not acknowledged like I should be.  Not understanding the true purpose of timing and purpose that God aligns for us and that the universe aligns for us.  So now that I understand that I’m not in control, I’m just a vessel for the one that is in control that I just move accordingly and let my steps be guided instead of trying guiding my own steps.  You want to make God laugh? You make your own plans.  So I’m learning the process is easier and more enjoyable to laugh with God versus wondering why God is laughing at you while you’re trying to make your own plans. [laughs]

FromtheOH: Looking back at your career and everything that you've touched; from musical collaborations, humanitarian work, and acting. What can we expect from Raheem DeVaughn in the future?

Raheem DeVaughn: More community work, more philanthropy, more humanitarian work on behalf of myself and my foundation the Love Life Foundation.  We’ve been in talks with Proctor & Gamble, we’re back in talks with the AHF which is the Aids Healthcare Foundation. We’re just looking for strategic partnerships and more funding to be able to go do my work; fighting domestic violence globally, feeding the homeless, doing my textbook scholarship fund supporting youth in arts and education.  These are some of the things that I do outside of music and I’m looking forward to being bigger, better and stronger.  A lot of music, different projects and working with different artists.  Those are the things I see.