Interview: Raheem DeVaughn
Tue, 15 Apr 2008 13:32:14
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Raheem DeVaughn is a Washington D.C. native who updates his classic R&B stylings with a decidedly modern twist. The son of a jazz cellist, he makes music in the tradition of soul men like Donny Hathaway and Marvin Gaye. We caught up with the singer fresh on the heels of his sophomore release, Love Behind the Melody, and discussed his rise through the D.C. ranks, his musical influences and a time-tested recipe for success.
What was life like for you coming up in Maryland?
It was cool, manjust an everyday life for a kid.
You first started in D.C. What was the music vibe like when you first started?
It's totally different now than when I started. There's actually a scene now. So it's cool knowing I had a part in helping spearhead that.
. Were there some other artists that you came up with that you can shout out?
Yeah, Unspoken Heard, Asheru, Tabby Waney and Wale. There were a lot of artists doing their thing.
A lot of the folks you mention have very creative musical styles and a deep soul vibe. What do you think it is about Chocolate City that breeds that style?
A lot of places have that style. It's just D.C.'s time.
I see you've been at this for a long time. When did you know that music was where your heart was?
I think it was when I started to take it seriously and realized I could feed my family with it without getting a job that made me miserable. So I just made success my vision and started moving towards it.
Not always, but when you can pay the cost to be the boss it's a different scenario.
You have a real throwback, old-school vibe to your sound on a certain level. Who were some of the artists that influenced you coming up?
Prince, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, Bob Marleyjust to pull a few out of the hat.
Are there cats out there, besides the one's you've mentioned, that you're really feeling?
Man, I'm feeling everybody—anybody that's making something of substance. Me personally, I like James Blunt, Maroon 5, Jay-Z, Kanye, Lupe fiasco, The Roots and Erykah Badu are just some of my favorites.
People sometimes lament the fact that soul music doesn't have the same substance it used to. Do you think that maybe people just aren't listening to the right artists?
Definitely, or they just don't know how to find those artists. I think the Grammy's this year helped.
Do you think the industry is helping to push those acts, or are they just focused on the bubblegum that sells?
The industry is structured off of crabs in the barrel. So they may want to push the right people, but not be in a position to do that. Everybody is just focused on getting to where they want to be. Some artists look out though. Alicia Keys has nothing gain by saying the things she has about my music, other than the fact that she thoroughly enjoys my records. Just like I enjoy hers. A lot of the people who run the industry are disgruntled artists and producers who've never gotten to do the things they wanted to do. So in some aspects, they make it complicated on purpose. At the end of the day it's about good music. I do what I do for the music lovers to enjoy.
This album helped introduce you to a lot of people. Do you ever have to remind people that you aren’t new to this game, even if your name is new to them?
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