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R&B artist, Raheem DeVaughn
photo by Whitney Thomas
Spring is in the air, and self-proclaimed “Love King”, Raheem DeVaughn, is sitting on the set of his latest music video, “Love Connection”, the first single from his new EP Destination LoveLand. The DC based R&B crooner is in Los Angeles putting the finishing touches on his video before heading off to Texas. Seated comfortably and coolly and wearing all black, DeVaugn is seemingly unaffected by the 80-degree temperatures warming up his love throne. His black leather jacket defies the LA heat, much as his music defies any misconceptions that classic R&B is even remotely replaceable. The charismatic musician is ready to hold court and discuss his newest brainchild, A Place Called LoveLand.
“I’m super excited about the place where I am musically in my life right now, and this is the first song, Love Connection, which is very suited,” says DeVaughn. “I feel like I connect people together musically. In my kingdom, in my world, I’m the king in my place called the Love Land, and every man should feel that way when he puts my music on and he’s wining and dining his lady,” DeVaughn says, exuding confidence as he speaks.
But Love Connection represents decidedly more than just DeVaughn’s means of bringing people together. It also symbolizes the new direction the Grammy nominated artist is heading musically since becoming an independent artist, bringing with it a heightened sense of artistic freedom. Formerly signed to Jive Records, DeVaughn is now releasing his new music through a joint deal between his own label, 368 Music Group, and Mass Appeal Entertainment. His EP Destination LoveLand, is a precursor release to his upcoming summer album, A Place Called LoveLand. Love Connection, which is now available on itunes, is a sultry mid-tempo track, and a sample of what’s to come.
“This will be my first major release as an independent artist, so that’s epic,” DeVaughn notes. “From owning of the masters, to having input, to picking the producers, to deciding on the songwriters—no money is spent without me knowing about it, and [considering]how it can benefit my career, and what risks are involved. I have new management with KWL. Shout out to Kevin Liles. This album has a new sound because music changes sonically, so I’m part of the change.”
The ever-morphing singer is considering changing his sound in more ways than one. He has built his brand by creating music which, in his words, is “socially conscious in a very sexually driven but tastefully done way, and [the music] definitely salutes the women and will continue to do so.” However in an era where hip hop predominates on urban radio, he expressed that he’d be open to working with more rap artists. The R&B Casanova went on to reveal that he has been working on projects with artists the likes of Snoop Dogg, and would welcome the opportunity to work with French Montana.
“I would jump on anybody’s record if it’s appropriate and it makes sense,” DeVaughn explains. “You know it’s got to make sense at the end of the day. I got a hot hook in me for a French Montana record. There are a slew of other artists that I’m working with and grinding with. I was on the last two UGK albums, and I’ve done a lot of hip hop over the years.[Also] Me and Snoop Dogg have been working on a project for like the last year or so.”
In addition to creating an album, the multi-faceted DeVaughn is developing several artists, most notably Georgia Rain and Phil Ade. He also hosts a budding radio show in DC that has been streaming online for the last two years. From Miguel, to Kendrick Lamar, to T.I., the show has definitely been a hotspot for hip hop and R&B heavy weights.
“The show has given me an opportunity to create a platform for my peers [and] keep my ear to the street musically so I know what’s going on, and be an ambassador of the city of Washington DC,” says DeVaughn.We support independent artists just as much as we do mainstream artists, and I’ve always been the type of artist to have one foot in and one foot out, so that’s always been pretty much the premise of the radio show.”
Despite his musical success, it would appear that DeVaughn is no different from any one of us. He’s that guy that loves sneakers, old school cars, and laughing and joking around all day. The guy that loves going to the movies, clubbing, and spending time with family and friends. Musically he loves and draws inspiration from Prince, Marvin Gaye, Jimmy Hendrix, and the Beatles. The R&B ladies man wants to do more than just make an album; he wants to make the album that is sampled years from now. He wants to make Love music, seductive melodies that make folks eager to take that journey to Love Land.
“I am in a very loving and sexual place right now lyrically speaking, but everyday more and more I find out what love is from all aspects—by just being a better friend, being a better child to my parents, a better lover—all the way across the board.I’m still soul searching on what love is, what it means to me, why it only lasts for two weeks,” he jokes. “Whether it be for a lifetime or a moment, I bring people together.”