Raheem DeVaughn conducted by Hugo Lunny  

Raheem DeVaughn Interview: Hustlin' Soul

June 2005

The music industry has changed a lot over the past decade. It has rapidly become governed by severely driven artists. That's not to say that prior to this ten year period artists weren't driven, but shopping around demo's isn't the same as selling mix CD's and independently putting out records to get a reputation and get noticed. Raheem DeVaughn is one of these driven artists. Before signing with Jive (off of the strength of his following), he put out several releases independently going along rap's independent hustle, except with R&B/Soul.

On June 28th, Raheem is set to release "The Love Experience" which he defines as being a "conscious record."

MVRemix: Did you learn how to sing or were you self-taught?

Raheem DeVaughn: Self taught. I had a little training, very minimal. But for the most part I'm just self-taught. I taught myself how to vocally arrange and all that, experimenting in the studio.

MVRemix: Tell me about your independent hustle, prior to signing to Jive.

Raheem DeVaughn: Oh man, the first project I ever put out was called "The Healing" which was a timeless joint. Followed by "The Crossroads," "Limited Budget, Unlimited Quality" and "The Antidote." I put those out at the same time, "The Antidote" was a Raheem Devaughn Interviewfollow up to "The Healing" which are from this group and movement that I founded, called Urban Ave 31 which is still driving pretty heavily. "The Crossroads" was a duo group, myself plus this guy W. Ellington Felton. We ended up putting out another project too, called "The Invitation." In total I put out four independent projects. After which, signing with Jive, I put out mixtapes. I wasn't able to put out music like I had in the past. The mixtape thing is kind of like self promotion and I can still leak new music and promote my album that's coming out, or promote anything that I'm tryin' to promote.

MVRemix: Kind of talking about leaking, your album has leaked online on the internet. Do you have any thoughts or responses to that?

Raheem DeVaughn: Yeah, I mean in one aspect I thought it was wack. The bootleggers are bootlegging my album, but on the flipside it's a good problem to have as a new artist; that people are so pressed to get it that they'll buy it from a bootlegger. It's a catch 22 situation. Me personally, when I catch up with bootleggers - they don't bootleg it anymore. You can't catch every bootlegger, and I ain't gon' knock their hustle. I just can't have everybody sellin' it directly in my face though.

MVRemix: How did you hook up with Peekaso? And what prompted you to include live art as a part of your live show?

Raheem DeVaughn: I did the live art thing, I've known him, he's a childhood friend. I wanted to give him an opportunity to showcase his art and an opportunity to showcase me and an opportunity to give performance art a whole 'nother eye, a whole 'nother look.

MVRemix: With your material being so passionate, I'm wondering when it's written - if it's written around the time things happen, or inspired by a beat/subject... What's your writing process?

Raheem DeVaughn: I'm inspired by the beat. Sometimes I may have a concept I've been holding onto for a minute until I hear the right beat. It depends man, there's so many different variables right there. I rarely sit down with a pen and a pad and write it down. If I hear a beat, I like to go in the studio right there and "Boom!" Start piecing it together. If I need to come back to it, I come back to it. Usually I don't like to let songs sit, so when I record, I like to finish that song, that day.

MVRemix: Did any one person or event inspire "Is It Possible?" Or "Guess Who Loves You More?"

Raheem DeVaughn: No-one in particular. "Is It Possible?" was inspired by the artist Dwele, I actually wrote that record for Dwele to perform and there's actually a recorded version of the song where he recorded it. It's floating around. I think he's real dope, he's a friend of mine and we'll probably do some stuff down the pipeline in the future. "Guess Who Loves You More" was not really inspired by anything in particular, just in the studio late night, had some extra time to kill and you know... that's what came of it.

MVRemix: From your bio, it seems that Prince has been a big inspiration to you - how did you react when he changed his name into a symbol?

Raheem DeVaughn: I think it was dope. He gets it. Most creative artists that are like him have to constantly re-invent themselves. He did it for more than one reason of course, but whatever it takes to get the message across. I think he was definitely at a stage in his life and his career where he had to re-invent himself.

MVRemix: When did you discover, because your album is called "The Love Experience," when or what is love? When did you discover that?

Raheem DeVaughn: Love is when I get on stage; the love I get from the audience and the affection we have for one another. That's it. Connecting with people and giving them that good feeling. It's a priceless feeling. They can put a price tag on the ticket, but that's a priceless feeling that you leave with. Or, what you feel when you listen to the lyrical content.

MVRemix: You're quoted as saying "If it were up to me, I'd have done a completely socially conscious record," could you expand on that?

Raheem DeVaughn: Yeah, I mean I think there are so many things we can touch on the heels. Musically, we as a people have the power to heal the earth. Music is therapy, you know what I mean? I think to make a therapeutic project would be real dope. In actuality, the first record I put out was a conscious record, and about half of this project is like that. It's cool. "The Love Experience" I feel is a conscious record.

MVRemix: What do you feel is the biggest mistake you've made in a relationship?

Raheem DeVaughn: Probably not being honest with myself. When you honest with yourself, you might not be ready for a relationship, yourself, at that time. Yet alone being dishonest with someone else, being honest with yourself. You've got to know what you want before you can give somebody else what they want.

MVRemix: From your perspective, do you work on relationships or are you quick to leave if personalities clash?

Raheem DeVaughn: I'm the type of person that if nothing more, I'm a friend for life. With that said, it's all good.

MVRemix: Do you have any non-musical aspirations? Like writing of a different kind or because of your independent work, side business endeavours?

Raheem DeVaughn: I have my own label; Urban Ave Music group. I work with Kenny Dope real heavy, Masters at Work. I look forward to doing a lot of different genres of music, all different types of stuff. We got an artist now we're working on, her name is Tanzania Latif. She's out of Philly, originally from B-More. There's a lot of stuff man.

MVRemix: Aside from the album, have you been working on anything else? Guest appearances, compilations, that sort of thing...

Raheem DeVaughn: Yeah, I work with Kenny [Dope] real heavy on a lot of different things. There's a compilation for a project we're workin' on right now. Lots of cameos, I just did a cameo with a rapper Jermaine Dupri just signed out of Baltimore named Bossman. I got a couple of cameos with him and also a couple other new artists that are comin' out.

MVRemix: Do you have any last words to your fans or potential fans?

Raheem DeVaughn: I just wanna thank everybody out there for supporting my music and my movement, it's getting bigger. Tell a friend to tell a friend. Get at me. Don't be afraid to reach out to me or email me at urbanave31.com or theloveexperience.com after I get this clearance back. I'm a reflection of the people, if the people support me, I'ma keep supportin' y'all.

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