It’s been a long time coming, but Raheem DeVaughn is back with a new single called “Love Connection.” This time, the singer-songwriter is doing things differently with a new team in place, including Kevin Liles’ KWL Management Company, a joint venture record deal with Mass Appeal Entertainment and a newer sound.
The self-proclaimed R&B hippie neo-soul rock star taps into his inner Marvin Gaye on “Love Connection,” which describes lighting a fire to rekindle the spark between lovers or even him reconnecting with listeners.
After a brief hiatus, the 3-time Grammy nominee is also in the studio putting the finishing touches on his fourth studio album, A Place Called Loveland, set to drop this summer, and it’s an album that he says is his best work to date. DeVaughn has also kept busy during his hiatus by broadcasting his online radio show The Raheem DeVaughn Show, reaching out to thousands of listeners weekly. SoulTrain.com caught up with Raheem DeVaughn to discuss his new music, his foray into online radio and how he’s handling his business on his own terms.
SoulTrain.com: What was the inspiration behind your new single “Love Connection?”
Raheem DeVaughn: It’s actually part of me redefining my sound. I feel like as an artist you have to develop and grow and I have for my 4th album. My last album was out two years ago, and the music industry is constantly changing, so I felt like this record had the potential to be a really great record. I’ve never had a really strong urban adult contemporary up tempo record. But this one is young, it’s fresh, it has a young Marvin Gaye type of vibe. The song of course was produced by Carvin & Ivan.
SoulTrain.com: Is that the type of vibe fans can expect on your upcoming album, A Place Called Loveland?
Raheem DeVaughn: Yes, I think my music has more like a future Marvin Gaye and Prince vibe with some real edginess to it. So I was able to fuse the sounds together to enhance my sound. It is my fourth studio album–my first one, The Love Experience came out in 2005; in 2008, I dropped Love Behind the Melody, which I received two Grammy Nominations for; and in 2010 I dropped Love and War MasterPeace and was nominated for a Grammy with that one for R&B Album of the year. I’m glad to say after a two-year hiatus that I can come back with an album that I think is my best work to date.
SoulTrain.com: What is your definition of timeless music?
Raheem DeVaughn: My definition of timeless music is music that was composed in the 60s that is still relevant now. It’s music that just stays for a lifetime. Most of the songs that you hear on the radio, in my opinion, probably 70% if not more are created for a moment, not for a lifetime. You’ll hear some music for like a four-month streak, and then never hear the record again. Timeless music transcends genre, race, sexuality, and there’s no time capsule on it. It was relevant when it first came out, and it’s relevant today.
SoulTrain.com: Do you consider your music timeless?
Raheem DeVaughn: I definitely strive to make my music timeless, but I wouldn’t say that I consider it timeless. That is up to the people to decide that. I definitely think it’s my goal when I put out a body of work; I want it to be accepted as timeless and exceptional. I want to put everything that I can into my work and hope that it is received as timeless music.
SoulTrain.com: What’s the next single you plan to release?
Raheem DeVaughn: The single that we do have planned for after this is a record called “Pink Crush Velvet,” produced by Mario Winans. It’s a ballad, and I think it will be well received because that is what people expect from me and like to hear from me.
SoulTrain.com: Of course, now the question is what has taken you so long to get to the point of being ready to release A Place Called Loveland after taking a bit of a break?
Raheem DeVaughn: Well, it’s a few things actually. I don’t think you can rush great music when it comes to perfection. I had a lot of components that needed to come together. Also, because music is constantly changing I had to find a sound that worked. I also had to make sure business was right and the way we put out and distribute the music. It’s hard to sell and make music in this business. So the last couple of years I’ve become an independent artist again. That gave me the opportunity to take ownership of my music, so I own the rights to my music. So that’s one of the changes that I went through and finding a new home and partnership as well as new management. Kevin Liles is my new manager now, so we are moving in a different direction. I have a whole new team, a whole new look, a whole new sound, and it’s a bigger sound. Also in the last couple of years, I started doing my radio show, The Raheem DeVaughn Show. So I just didn’t want to rush, it’s not like I took a D’Angelo type of break [laughs]. But sometimes it’s important to just take that time off to make sure you get things where they need to be.
SoulTrain.com: Speaking of your radio show, how has that transition been for you, since you are on the other side of the mic as an interviewer and not an interviewee?
Raheem DeVaughn: It’s great! I used to always joke and say that I would be on the radio. I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I put myself in a position musically so that you just have to rock with me. You might not understand it, and you may not know who I am but you just have to grow to love me. It’s all about being a part of the business in some form or fashion and doing business with Raheem DeVaughn. So, it’s all a part of becoming a boss, and calling the shots. Also, doing the radio show is about providing a platform for my peers and their music, and the music I like to listen to. I didn’t have a platform like that even five years ago. Internet radio is taking off and is going to become the alternative to mainstream radio and satellite radio. Creating the show wasn’t a move solely about me; it was a move about the preservation of the music and culture. Everybody has been on the show, including independent artists like Eric Robeson, and even more mainstream artists like T.I., Game, Keyshia Cole, and Kendrick Lamar. It’s been humbling sitting down with some of my peers that I have always wondered how their mind works. Being an artist and doing interviews, I know you can’t judge a book by its cover. The one common goal we have is that we are musicians and dreamers and we’re just trying to get closer to that. So I think it’s cool with me being an artist; I am able to create that comfort zone for my peers and get them to open up and talk about things that they don’t necessarily talk about. I’m not there to throw my peers under my bus, so certain things I do stay away from because I wouldn’t want someone throwing me under the bus. Sometimes you have to ask tough questions, but since I am an artist also, I know how to get it out of them [laughs].
SoulTrain.com: What would be your advice for aspiring artists or even people trying to break into the entertainment industry?
Raheem DeVaughn: First, you have to be honest with yourself. This business isn’t for everybody. Everybody can’t be a singer or a rapper, so you have to decide what your strengths and weaknesses are and if you’re passionate about it. You might find you’re a better songwriter or whatever, but you need to be knowledgeable about the business that you get into, do the research about it. You also need to surround yourself with like-minded individuals; if you’re creative, then you should be around other creative people. You have to hustle and be ambitious, that’s not something you can teach someone, because it’s just a natural hustle and passion.For more information and to hear Raheem DeVaughn’s single “Love Connection”, check out www.raheemdevaughn.com. Follow Raheem DeVaughn on Twitter @Raheem_DeVaughn.
Shameika Rene’ is a journalist of all trades. She can usually be found producing television news and writing for various websites such as Charlotte Vibe, Soultrain.com, Mosaic Magazine, or her own site, www.themofochronicles.com. She’s also a special guest contributor on The Social Hour on Urban Soul Radio. Follow her on Twitter @mofochronicles.