Interview: Raheem DeVaughn
Tue, 02 Feb 2010 07:00:13
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"I'm really eager to start another record," says Raheem DeVaughn with no lack of enthusiasm.
That's convenient, considering he just put the finishing touches on his most ambitious offering to date—his 20-track soul epic, The Love & War MasterPeace. MasterPeace is just another example of Mr. DeVaughn's diversity. For the album, he collaborated with everyone from hip hop heavyweights Ludacris and Bun B to Damian Marley and Anthony Hamilton. The flourishes of rap, funk and pop are all just icing on DeVaughn's big tasty soul cake though. This album could very well solidify him as the 21st century's official "soul man." But, he's still not ready to rest.
"I've been making mental notes for song ideas and thinking of people I'd like to work with on my next album," he laughs. "I know I want to work with Bootsy Collins, after doing a joint with him on his record. When you completely find yourself, you find that comfort zone. You find that lane and it's wide open."
He's ready to run the competition right over too…
Raheem DeVaughn rapped with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino about making his Masterpeace, paying homage to Purple Rain, "hidden messages" in movies and his own film debut, Who Do You Love?, in this exclusive interview.
So did Bootsy Collins end up on Masterpeace?
I wish Bootsy was on MasterPeace! The week that I actually flew out there to work with Bootsy, we already had the master. I'm doing stuff on his new album. I'm actually going to start the blueprint for my next album right now though. That's usually how it works. At some point while I'm working on the current album, I usually get inspired to start working on the next one. I've been lining people up that I want to work with on that. He's definitely one of those individuals.
What's the story behind "I Don't Care?"
That record is actually the only song on the album that I didn't write or co-write on. I'm big on self-expression, so I've written or arranged 99.9 percent of what I've released throughout my career. I'm always making sure the track is right. However, "I Don't Care" was a record that was done already. It's one of three in my career like that. Sometimes, as an artist you have to know how to humble yourself and step outside of yourself. You say, "Alright, there's something I'm looking for and I might not be able to create it." I put out so much energy in the stuff that I know that I can do. This is a tempo record, but it doesn't feel like it's not me, per se. The message isn't crazy, and I didn't second-think it. Ne-Yo wrote this record. As a fan of his, this was a great opportunity to try a different lane. I feel like I definitely made the record mine.
If you were to compare this record to a movie, what would you compare it to?
I'd compare it to Purple Rain! I think this is my breakout album. I think that it's definitely going to put people in channel with my star power. It's definitely an album that's centered around my life. We get into the war stuff. For example, there's "Soldier Story." I've got personal friends that went to the war and lost limbs. I've got friends in the services in Haiti right now that are giving it to me play by play—not the CNN play-by-play, but the real deal. There's a lot of heavy stuff going on in the world. I feel like this album is actually a fusion of Prince's Sign of the Times and Marvin Gaye's I Want You. I think I really captured both sides of the theme with The Love & War MasterPeace. It's very edgy. It's some of my best work, but at the same time, it's some of my most raw and emotional work.
What are some of your other favorite movies?
Oh man, Purple Rain is one of my favorite joints. Paid in Full is a favorite movie of mine. I love movies like The Mummy. I dug Angels & Demons. I like anything that's encoded with knowledge. I'm big on the movie thing. I look at movies differently now. There was a time when I would go to a movie to escape. Now, I understand why movies are made and what they're made to do. A lot of times, there's little hidden stuff in there. The cats that are making movies are laughing at us in the end because they have so much knowledge of the themes that they can put something quick in the movies that'll go over your head if you're not paying attention. Everything is built on signs and numbers. I can connect the dots. It's almost like a puzzle. Every time I go see a movie, I get more pieces to the puzzle. It's cool man.
Any tracks that stand out to you off the top of your head?
I have one record called "Nobody Wins a War," which features Jill Scott, myself of course, Anthony Hamilton, Dwele, Chrisette Michele, Citizen Cope, Chico DeBarge, Ledesi, Bilal and my home girl Shelby from Black Gypsy—she's been working with Prince since he did the Superbowl. There's a gang of people on this one joint. It's ironic that I was able to get with all of these folks. It's the first record of its kind for soul artists.
Is soul coming back?
I feel like soul never left! Definitely the attention is back on it with Maxwell's comeback and now Sade coming out. It re-confirms that if you make something with substance, you can come back out and have a following.
What's up with your film debut in Who Do You Love?
I'm excited about that! I play Andrew Tibbs who's a blues singer. It's my first major film. It's dope because it's a period piece. I get to be in a different time period—the '40s. It definitely showed me in another light. I have a performance scene and a speaking role. We shot the movie down in New Orleans. It's like the new Hollywood. They shoot a lot of films down there. Historically, it's always been a great place to shoot. After the hurricane, with the big tax breaks, they started shooting films out there. It's great for the community too because the extras are all natives, the folks from New Orleans. It's awesome to see everyone in good spirits. One day, I jumped on the trolley and took a little tour. You can ride in the hood. I'm pretty diverse. I can move around in both very comfortably. It's pretty heavy, man. Some of these houses are still boarded up, and you can see the markings on the front. It says how many people passed away, were in the house or animals were in there. They had a system for when they were going house-to-house to see if there were any survivors. I was capturing all of that on a mental note. Doing my first film was exciting! I learned a lot. I was around a lot of professional seasoned actors. Hopefully, I'll be able to continue to embark on that.
Check out Rick Florino's new novel Dolor available now for FREE here…