When you first hear Raheem DeVaughn, you can easily imagine a man beyond his years singing the songs. Whether the topic is love or his feelings about issues of the world, Raheem’s voice has the power to make you believe him. The son of noted jazz musician Abdul Wadud, Raheem has been a fan of music since the tender age of three, although he didn’t always want to journey into the world of music himself.
It wasn’t until he attended school at Coppin State University in Baltimore that he truly realized his calling. After entering and winning several talent contests in the Maryland area, and investing his winnings toward his career, he finally grabbed the attention of record executives who gave an honest listen. After signing to Jive Records in 2003, he collaborated with Nivea on the very successful single “Strangers and Friends”, and is now preparing to release of his debut solo album The Love Experience.
AllHopHop.com Alternatives got a chance to speak with the young singer to discuss inspiration, the state of the world and his ideal woman. Relax as Raheem DeVaughn explains the true definition of a love experience.
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: You have a surprisingly mature sound to be so young. Who are some of the artists that influence your classic sound?
Raheem: I love all of the classic artists like Stevie [Wonder], Marvin Gaye, Leon Ware, Berry Gordy, but I am big fan of Prince. So I just use all of their influence to channel my creativity that helps to create my music.
AHHA: When you created your album, what made you title it The Love Experience?
Raheem: Well, the album is basically a self preservation album. This album reaches out an expresses love for one another, your children and your spouse. It touches on everything from making love to your lady to politics, with everything that’s affecting us, I really just wanted to all of my feelings on the table.
AHHA: Your song “Until” is pretty deep. Did that stem from personal experience?
Raheem: Yeah, that is definitely one of my songs that came from personal experience. I think that song is important because it happens to a lot of men, so I feel that all men will relate in one way or another.
AHHA: You have a tribute to Prince on your album. What made you decide to do a tribute, and are you planning on collaborating with him?
Raheem: Well it’s not really a tribute to him, but it is definitely a song that he influenced. I would love to collaborate with him one day, because I feel that the music I make is timeless and I am really down to collaborate with anyone who wants to make good music, and we know Prince makes good music, so hopefully down the pipeline we can link up for a project.
AHHA: How did you get started in music?
Raheem: Getting into music was a decision that I made on my own. I was really reluctant about doing it when I was younger because I was so shy. But as I got older music actually became a part of my life, because I started performing in the grassroots circuit and doing live performances, putting out my own music by any means necessary. So it was like It was an obsession and that’s all I wanted to do.
AHHA: I hear that if you had a choice, The Love Experience would be completely conscious. Although it’s a great album, what deterred you from making it a conscious album?
Raheem: At the end of the day, I think it is conscious. Because if it’s from the heart ultimately it is conscious, I had the opportunity of putting out a completely conscious album for my entire body of work. The fact that it was independent or on a major [label] doesn’t make a difference because I can never stray away fro the whole reason I started to make music in the first place, which was to create and express how I feel.
AHHA: If you had your choice of discussing anything, what would you discuss?
Raheem: I really think I have done it, I mean I have talked about things that needed to be changed and what I felt would be proper solutions. My whole goal with that is just to create sound track music to help people speak out against different issues instead of sitting back complaining, that’s what I set out to do and in my own way I am doing it. I mean I touch on everything from homelessness, to the war or whatever, but it’s all about how people are listening to the lyrical content and how it hits them.
AHHA: You have a single out with Nivea. Why doesn’t it appear on your album?
Raheem: That was something that I wrote early on in the project, then parts of my album got leaked out and people were bootlegging it in certain areas, so I had to create new songs to put on the finished version of my album. But Nivea is a great artist and she is really good at knocking out songs in the studio.
AHHA: A lot of critics are comparing you to Marvin Gaye and Donnie Hathaway. Does it feel a little overwhelming to have such big shoes to fill?
Raheem: I take it as a blessing and a compliment. I am not really trying to fill anyone’s shoes; I am just trying to keep the torch going. When I go into the studio, my goal is to create timeless music with a message and I think that is why I am compared to great legends, because that’s what they did.
AHHA: Now you have out three mixtapes and I hear you are working on a fourth, as an R&B singer, what made you go the mixtape route?
Raheem: I did it because no one else had ever done it and even if they are doing it now, they aren’t doing it like I’m doing it. Initially I did it out of frustration because I wasn’t able to get the labels to listen, but then I used it to speak my mind and people were starting to listen, and DJs started playing the mixtape route was really a blessing.
AHHA: With all of the emotions you pour out in your music, a lot of women want to know if you are single.
Raheem: I date my music. [laughs] That’s the only woman in my life right now besides my mom. But I also want to let the fellas know that I am not a threat, I learned a long time ago I can’t handle them all. [laughs]
AHHA: What is the main thing that you want fans to take away from your music?
Raheem: I want them to let the work speak for itself, but I do want to thank the people for allowing me to touch their lives and share in their experiences, because although it’s through music, it’s the reason that I do what I do everyday.