Every year the critics are ready to proclaim the death of soul music. Moaning to one another about the days when Curtis Mayfield, Barry White and Marvin Gaye once walked the earth like musical giants, sometimes they sleep when something fresh does come along.
Having perfected his craft as a young artist by releasing numerous mixtapes and performing throughout his hometown of Washington, D.C., Raheem was determined from the beginning to be the best.
Introduced to an wider audience in 2005 with the release of his debut disc The Love Experience, singer Raheem DeVaughn has always strived create the perfect hybrid of old school grooves and new school attitude.
“When I hit the stage, it’s all about that passion for the music,” Raheem says. “When I’m in the studio, it’s about combining that same passion with recording timeless songs.” With the release of his sophomore project Love Behind the Melody, it is obvious that Raheem DeVaughn is steadily moving towards his goal of becoming an eternal soul man for the new millennium.
“I’m always working, so when the label said they were ready for a new album, I already had 30 songs prepared.” Though a few of Raheem’s completed tracks were chosen, it was decided that he would be put in the lab with a roster of A-list producers that includes Mark Batson, Chucky Thompson, Bryan Cox and Scott Storch.
“I know I’m one of the most slept on artists out right now. Not that I mind be the underdog, but hopefully Love Behind the Melody will change all of that.”
Showing steady growth from his debut project, the first single is the Chucky Thompson produced “Woman.” With its laidback groove and vocal charm, this is one of the better ballads of 2007.
Thompson’s streak of producing top-selling hits began around 1994 when he produced “One More Chance” for the late Notorious B.I.G. as well as the Grammy-nominated album My Life for Mary J. Blige. “I knew from the moment I stepped into the studio with Chucky, I was going to get exactly what I needed,” says Raheem. “At the end of the day, it’s all about good music, and that is what Chucky brought to the project.”
Joining forces once again with friend and producer Kenny Dope, who worked on Raheem’s debut disc, the two joined forces on “NAME OF SONG.” Smiling, Raheem says, “Kenny is like my brother, so it’s always special when we get to work together..”
Newcomer Jack Splash also brings the soul on his song “Mo Betta,” a heavy midnight ballad that invokes memories of driving through the deserted streets blaring the Brothers Johnson and the Floaters. “God moves when me and Jack step in the studio together,” laughs Raheem. “We were in the studio for three days and we made nine songs. Jack is straight out of Purple Rain, but he was focused on his art. To me, that is most important.”
Working in a Miami studio with Scott Storch was another thrilling experience for the young singer. “We went sailing on his yacht for a few hours, and all we talked about was music,” Raheem remembers. Having once worked closely with Dr. Dre, as well as producing tracks for Beyonce (“Baby Boy”) and Chris Brown (“Exclusive”), Storch knows how to make a hit record. “I played him some of my stuff, and we just wilded out on a vibe.” The result was the midtempo bop of “Energy,” which features stellar guest spot from superstar rapper Big Boi.
Still performing at a steady pace, Raheem has played everywhere from Japan to Jamaica to a recent sold-out show at BB King’s in New York City. “I have a little bit of a cult following,” he says. “Sometimes I see the same people in different cities, and I just love that.”
Working with Cali-based producer Mark Batson on the beautiful “Butterflies,” DeVaughn created one of the coolest tracks on Love Behind the Melody with one of the strangest line-ups. “The guitar was played by the baseball player Barry Zito,” explains Raheem of the amazing solo. “You can hear the magic in this song.”
In addition, Raheem also stresses that keeping his health in check has helped make him a better singer and performer. “I’ve been going to the gym, and all that is good for you mind and spirit.” And, based on the joyful exuberance emanating from Love Behind the Melody, he is also excited about making new music. Maybe now’s the time to awake the sleepers.