Raheem DeVaughn: Make It Happen

Patience is a virtue that Raheem DeVaughn has cultivated. The Jive recording artist has seen a number of his other labelmates release their projects with great success, while he humbly waited offstage for his time to come. In the meantime, Raheem was building his name in the Washington DC/Baltimore area, selling out shows every week.

After maximizing his regional success, the young singer is now ready to expand his horizons. With the release of his debut album The Love Experience earlier this year, Raheem DeVaughn has been on a steady path to bring his “R&B-hippie-neosoul-rockstar” style, as he puts it, to the world. We took some time in New York to talk with Raheem about his unique style, range of influence, and his industry experiences thus far.

AllHipHop.com Alternatives: You’re originally based out of Washington, DC and you’ve been doing sold out shows there on a consistent basis.

Raheem DeVaughn: It’s big out there, it’s happening out there right now.

AHHA: How does it feel to come up to NYC and be more of a newcomer here?

Raheem: Right now in New York, it’s probably ’bout the same. It’s more ground to cover, but I [had] the Number One song. It’s major in New York right now. I did a two-week residency tour out here, and my sales went up 200%. It’s just a lot more ground to cover. But it’s definitely more than poppin’ up here.

AHHA: You did a tour with Brian McKnight and New Edition. How was that experience?

Raheem: Brian McKnight and New Edition was dope – it was classy. I grew up listening to both of them, so to share the stage with them… I remember being in Jersey and the projects, and emulating, and I was Bobby Brown. [laughs] It was a real good look it gave me a whole ‘nother audience and whole ‘nother demographic musically.

AHHA: The album is noted as having a heavy Prince influence and you wanted to keep it guitar driven…

Raheem: I don’t want to say it’s a heavy Prince influence, more so the album is real guitar driven. Prince definitely influenced, but Prince, Marvin Gaye – I could definitely name a bunch of different musical influences I had. But I definitely think I’ve created my own name musically. My sound will truly be defined once I get into the third and fourth records. This is my first album, if people don’t really have anything to compare it to, other than something else that is out. But when you get to the fourth and fifth and sixth record, cats will say, “I like the third record as much as I like the first one,” you know what I’m sayin’. But to be compared to Prince in anyway is not a bad thing.

AHHA: You’ve been compared a lot with Dwele. What do you think of the comparison?

Raheem: Any comparison with anybody is dope. It’s incomparable. For my name to be mentioned in the same sentence as a Prince or one of my peers like Dwele, you know he’s dope, and that’s my homeboy too, In fact, one of the songs on my album, “Is It Possible,” I wrote for him originally. It’s a version of his floating around like that. That’s

cool – it’s like The Four Tops and The Temptations, that use to happen with Motown back in the day. It’s cool.

AHHA: How is your style different from Dwele?

Raheem: I’m what you call an ‘R&B-hippie-neosoul-rockstar’ – I think if you listen to my album and listen to his album, you can distinctly tell its two different styles of music. My music is more rock influenced; I’m touching on some different topics too than other artists. 50% of it is a conscious lyric. A lot of artists are staying in one box with their message. How many “artists” who you are putting in me in a category with are talking about God or religion or faith, or just being an activist. Just using that opportunity to be an activist and say, “Yo, the presidents got us in a crazy situation right now.”

AHHA: I noticed in your videos you use a lot of DC local artists. Are there any local DC artists you plan on bringing out with you?

Raheem: You are probably referring to the “Guess You Loves You More” video. Ellington’s in the video. A lot of independent artists – K’alyn, Bilal Salaam just to name a few – came thru. For the “You” video I used a lot of fresh look, it was more focusing on me and beautiful women through out the world, including my mother. Lil’ Mo came through for a cameo; she’s a good friend of mine. Just using different women to tell the story and connect the dots, the words, to the song.

AHHA: Is there another single coming off this album?

Raheem: Nah, I’m like three to four singles deep with this album. So we’re just going to ride this album it’s a great ride – ride it till the wheels fall off. And then drop the next record, Love Behind The Melody.

AHHA: You got a lot of buzz off of doing a cover of Andre3000’s “Prototype.” what made you decide to cover that song?

Raheem: Out of boredom one day, and out of my being a fan of Dre’s music and Outkast’s music. I’m a big fan. If I ever remake anybody’s song, it’s ‘cause I’m a fan of their music. I think it’s a helluva song – its one of the best songs written in the past 10 years.

AHHA: You’re often seen rocking these custom made shirts. Is there a story behind that?

Raheem: I support what [the artist], and we’re on the come up together. I just want to add some color to my life when I’m walking down the street, and add some color to the album and to the shows, because he paints while I perform.

AHHA: Are there any artists you’re looking to collab with?

Raheem: Whatever – I’m open for whatever as it relates to recording. Talib Kweli came in town with The Roots and Pharcyde a few weeks ago, and I happened to go through. On the spot [Talib] was like, “You wanna perform your joint?” He’s a big fan of my song, and I’m big fan of his music as well. We just did some stuff together. Then in the middle of The Roots concert, he brought me out, and I sang a ballad. It was crazy in there. Music is music, and music lovers love music. So, with that being said I’m going to keep making music for the music lovers.

AHHA: What are you looking to do with your album and the next one?

Raheem: The next album will be released in due time, and it will do what it does. It is consistent to what you’re hearing right now. Consistent, but totally different.

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