Raheem DeVaughn could be the next big thing in R&B. With his major label debut, The Love Experience, finally being released by Jive Records – the record was ready to be released over a year ago – listeners around the world can finally discover DeVaughn for themselves. The Washington D.C.-based singer-songwriter's smooth falsetto vocals, down-to-earth storytelling skills and tight grooves, are a combination set to break into top 40 radio.
Popjournalism had a chance to speak with the charming rising star while en route to St. Louis to talk about touring and his new album.
How has the tour been going with Brian McKnight and New Edition?
It's been great, man. With season vets like New Edition and Brian McKnight, you learn something new every night – they've been doing it for years. But I've been touring for a while, doing the grassroots thing, and I'm used to performing on stages of all sizes. It's been a dope experience for everybody. I'm definitely holding my own on this tour, even though I perform real early, a lot of people take to my music. I'm doing real well in merchandising. I'm neck to neck with Brian McKnight's merchandising.
Is The Love Experience a good representation of what it's like to see you live?
Yeah. My live show is only getting better; my show is really artistic. We've been doing some different things. I have a visual art show along with the performance to give my show some colour.
Do you remember the moment when you knew you wanted to be a musician?
Not the exact moment, but I remember really having a desire to do it. As I got older, I realized that it was my calling.
Your songs are very story-based. How personal are your lyrics?
A lot of that is me, things that I experience, or where I was close enough to see it through someone else's eyes.
Musically there's a lot going on in your songs, but they don't feel claustrophobic. How did you capture that flow?
I just found the right producers and the right chemistry. I try to write things based on a theme, you know, like the whole "love experience" thing. I'm like a modern day hippy, so I try to reflect that.
Approximately how long did you work on a typical song?
Anywhere between four hours and twelve hours. The song "The Love Experience" was like a twelve to fifteen hour thing.
The last track "Thank You" – was that a spur of the moment thing?
That's another one of my attempts to just be out of the box and do something a little different. My mom made the comment to me that out of all the records she's had – and she's 60 – she never heard anyone do the Thank Yous on record. That's definitely groundbreaking.
What has it been like dealing with the press and putting yourself out there in the media?
It's dope. I love the media. Without ya'll a lot of people probably wouldn't know a lot about me. I try to do every interview I can, and meet every fan.
Is that what's missing from music now days, that personal feeling with the fans?
My personal take on it is that people just got to feel that they could reach out and touch you, know what I'm saying? I'm a people person. I have no problem going out, doing autographs, or taking pictures, you know, whatever needs to be done.
So what next for Raheem and what are your plans?
I want to do a lot of touring, that's how this thing pops. The more you hit the road, the more people know about you. I got another record ready and I'm constantly recording. I look forward to being up there.