Soul music is slowly becoming a thing of the past. Much like vinyl and cassette tapes, true heartfelt R&B is in danger of becoming extinct. There are a few people who would like to say that today’s R&B is better and broader than the old songs you used to hear your mother blasting on Saturday mornings while cleaning the house. Some say that R&B needs to go back to its gritty roots where songs made you do more than just dance, they made you feel something. Raheem DeVaughn does!
The self-proclaimed “R&B Hippie Neo-Soul Rock Star” has built an almost cult following for himself on the strength of being an amalgam of both ideas. After gaining notoriety in his hometown of Washington, DC from mixtapes and then releasing the full length album, The Love Experience, Raheem DeVaughn’s creativity and delivery has turned him into “everyone’s” R&B star. But he’s not done. With his sophomore album, ‘Love Behind the Melody,’ he’s poised to make a lasting impression on fans old and new. If you haven’t caught on yet, you might want to get familiar.
Singersroom: You have developed this cult following in that you may not have millions of people being the album but you have people that will support you no matter what. Why is that?
Raheem DeVaughn: I think, first and foremost, that happens when you make songs people can gravitate to; songs about everyday things that people can relate to. I’m a people person by nature so it’s not just about the music; it’s also about the movement. One of the first CD’s I put out was called ‘The Healing.’ It was something everybody kind of gravitated towards because it wasn’t just a bunch of love songs. They were dealing with everyday life. So it was basically telling people its okay to be you. Be cool with who you are. Also, seeing is believing. When you come out and see me perform I try to make a fan for life. And that’s basically my goal.
Singersroom: Do you get pressured from the label or do you put pressure on yourself to achieve that crossover success?
Raheem DeVaughn: I’m looking to just build the brand. The brand Raheem Devaughn; building it daily. Everyday there’s somebody new who finds out about the music via word of mouth, Myspace, Youtube, coming to a show, or whatever. Ultimately it will be something mainstream, crossover or whatever you want to call it. That 30,000 will turn into 100,000. That’ll turn to 500,000 and that to a million. It’s all about grinding it out. The idea with the first album was never to come out just to do huge numbers the first week. I wanted an album that will sell forever.
Singersroom: So it’s never going to be about numbers when it comes to your music?
Raheem DeVaughn: My success story is that I’m still selling CDs and approaching having a gold record, and approaching having a platinum record. Some of these cats have albums out that ain’t going to sell five years from now. To be honest, ain’t nobody selling records like that now. But that’s not what it is for me. I want to make forever music. I can probably say that ‘The Love Experience’ and ‘Love Behind the Melody’ will be albums that cats buy or download like 20 years from now.
Singersroom: Your music tends to reach a lot of people. When you’re working on a song do you have a specific audience in mind?
Raheem DeVaughn: I want to reach the music lover. Not a certain demographic or age. If you come to my shows where there are no age limits you’ll find people from teenagers to sixty (year olds). When I put a song together I want to reach people in general. No matter color, race, creed, or whatever walk of life. We can all connect with music.
Singersroom: What can fans expect from your sophomore album?
Raheem DeVaughn: With the second album I’m doing a lot musically. I’m going some places I haven’t been in the past. I’m branching out everywhere. I’m also making the internet my friend. I’m just using all my resources to let people know I exist.
Singersroom: Are you worried about losing some of your longtime fans by stepping a little from what they know you for?
Raheem DeVaughn: No, I don’t want people to think I’m doing something totally left, so it’s still going to be consistent. You can just hear the growth in the arrangements, vocally, the harmonies, and the choice of producers I worked with. It’s a lot of A-list producers. I worked with Scott Storch, Mark Batcher, and Bryan Cox.
Singersroom: What’s been one of the most touching experiences for you as a performer?
Raheem DeVaughn: The overseas thing. I recently went to Japan and did some shows over there. Performing for people who may not speak the same language but seeing them sing and dance to your music is definitely good for the spirit and a testament to how music can reach everybody.
Singersroom: Because of the style of your music, you are most often compared to guys like Dwele, Bilal, and Musiq. What is it that separates you from those guys?
Raheem DeVaughn: What they do and what I do are two different things. Honestly, I don’t think you can put me in one specific genre of music, technically. That’s where the theme “R&B Hippie Neo-Soul Rock Star” comes from. My music is very much R&B, but it’s also very neo-soul, with a splash of rock star. It’s about just really tying it all together and bringing attention to the movement.
Love Behind The Melody in Stores January 15, 2008