R&B and Soul singer Raheem DaVaughn is out promoting his latest single "Love Connection" and his upcoming album, due for a summer release.
But three albums and fifteen mixtapes in, this doesn't come without a new attitude toward the music industry, which has left a bad taste in DeVaughn's mouth. He's confirmed the death of Neo Soul, and instead, given birth to a new kind of genre: "Soul fusion".
And while DeVaughn remains a student of the game, he admits: He's not here to show us what R&B is, instead, he plans to show us what it can be.
In our interview, DeVaughn talks growth within his own career, gives props to Frank Ocean and Miguel for bending the state of R&B and later promises us that his new album, A Place Called Loveland, is his best work to date.
Why has it taken so long to get a new album from Raheem DeVaughn?
A lot of reasons. Mainly getting my business in order. I'm signed to myself now. I'm my own boss. Going into my fourth album, it's real critical and will determine whether or not you're going to be around. I really took my time in creating this album. I have a new management situation, working with Kevin Liles at KWL.
I'm really in the mode of setting up my career, following in the footsteps of Frankie Beverly and Maze. Making sure I have the right body of work, but also music is changing, how people get music is changing, labels are downsizing, so I've studied it. I've hired the right people to ensure the success I feel like this album should have.
In a recent interview, you said Neo-Soul is dead. What does that mean for your career?
Not to be misconstrued, I think people take that and run with it. The term Neo Soul was a phrase coined by Kedar Massenberg for artists he was establishing and branding at that time. I don't agree with any genres of music, as far as putting titles on artists, especially black music. At the end of the day, the music is the culture and the culture is the music. People are going to gravitate to it. Take Hip Hop for example. No one thought it would go this far.
I don't feel any pressure. That era doesn't co-exist.
"Love Connection" by Raheem DeVaughn:
Are you creating a new sound, straying away from Neo-Soul?
At the end of the day, I don't know what Neo-Soul is. I was never signed to Kedar. [laughs]
Early in my career, I was huge in Urban AC radio and I had an urban radio following. My audience is very diverse. I get three different generations at my shows. I'm soulful, whether I'm doing a record with Raekwon or Ghostface, or one of my own projects, the diversity is there but it's always going to be soulful.
If you're not singing conventional R&B songs, people want to put you in a category. I'm more like a soul fusion.
Are you impressed with the Miguel/Frank Ocean era of music?
It's dope. They're dope. It's very soulful. It's actually eclectic. But what do you call Frank Ocean or Miguel's music? I don't know what to call that. What type of label do you put on it? My campaign is really "R&B is not dead."
I recently interviewed The Dream for my radio show. We both agreed that the early '90s R&B sound is coming back, real strong. It all sounds like futuristic early '90s R&B.
Is this what your new album is going to sound like?
I don't know, man. It's going to be consistent with what I've put out thus far, but I think it's going to show a lot of growth as a vocalist. It's going to show a lot more maturity. Both the songs I wrote and the songs I picked.
It definitely has the R&B alive feel to it. A retro, early '90s, 2015, 2020, feel to it.
"She's Single" by Raheem DeVaughn
If "Love Connection" is any hint to how the album is going to be, I think we're in for a fun ride.
If Marvin Gaye was out right now, that's kind of where he'd be with it. That's what I was going for. I'm a huge fan of Marvin and Prince.
On a personal note, the first time I heard your second album, "Love Behind the Melody", I was hanging out with a lady in Atlanta. Now, anytime I hear that album, I think of her. As you create your music, do you think about how some of us are having our first time to your album? It's gotta be weird.
Yes, that's what I live for. When I create these albums and make these singles, I want people to look back on this album twenty years from now and it reminds them of this summer. Or they're fall 2013. That's what we do as artists, we create a moment in time and a lasting impression. People remember their first love, a bad break up to making a new friend.
I've come to the conclusion that I bring people together through the music. That's where I coined the "Love King" phrase. Every man wants to be the king in this place called love land.
You've always had a meaning behind your albums. Going into this one, is there a magical name or story behind it?
It's called A Place Called Loveland. I feel like no artist is truly defined until they get into their third, fourth album. This will be my fourth album. With fifteen mixtapes out and four independent albums, three major releases, it's like my 20th album in hindsight.
At some point, you have to take the fans and listeners to your place. This album is a relationship think tank album. Between the interludes and the songs on the album, I cover virtually any situation that can happen. You can put this CD on cruise control and just listen.
Lastly, in addition to making music, you've also taken up another trade as a radio host.
Definitely. I've been rebranding myself. Every thing is co-existing as one now. The Raheem DeVaughn Show; it's an internet-based show and it's also how I've been spending my last two years and a half. It's been a great platform for me and another lane for my peers, for outsourcing their music. Brandy, Q Parker, Kendrick Lamar, Eric Benet, Miguel, just a lot of diversity. It's on Sundays from 7pm to 9pm on www.blis.fm.
Thank you for chatting with us.
Thank you, man. You all have always supported.
A Place Called Loveland hits stores and online August 20th.