MVRemix: Tell me about Urban Ave 31.
Raheem DeVaughn: Ah... So that's how you want to start this, Hugo, huh? Urban Ave 31 is a movement that I founded a couple of years back. That was my first venture out into the independent music world - in terms of putting out my own music and building a following. The fans had been loyal, in terms of a cult following that they support all the music that comes out under that umbrella, whether it's from myself or my brothers. Like W. Ellington Felton or Omar Retnu or whomever. One of the first projects that I ever put out under that umbrella, "The Healing" was followed by "The Antidote," and two CDs by a group I founded called Crossrhodes. I think that those projects are timeless. We had the opportunity to make some timeless music.
MVRemix: What's currently going on with Crossrhodes?
Raheem DeVaughn: We still do shows from time to time. The projects are still doing well via the Internet. The music is still circulating, I hear DJ's playing it abroad and stuff like that. So ultimately my plan is to hopefully be able to re-release all that stuff. I'm just getting started in this business. The label is established, the Urban Ave 31 - the Urban Ave music group. So hopefully we can re-release this stuff. Its taken a life of it's own. It's still driving. Actually, Crossrhodes is working on some independent films right now. I think we're gonna put out some short independent films.
MVRemix: How did you meet up with Kenny Dope?
Raheem DeVaughn: The story goes that I met Kev Brown and Sheim first. Through them I met Jazzy Jeff, and Kenny Dope I met through Jeff in Miami, the year that Jeff put out his last album, "The Magnificent." Me and Kenny hit it off. We actually met prior to that, we did a song for Jeff's album called "In Time." It was a house record. From there we started building a relationship. We hung out in Miami and we started working together... Jeff, as well as Kenny, Terri Hunter - the list goes on.
MVRemix: I read in an interview that you said you avoid relationships at the moment to focus on your career in music. How do you feel that effects your music and how hard is it to concentrate on not getting into a relationship?
Raheem DeVaughn: What you don't know is that was an interview answer, dude. [chuckles] Currently, right now, I'm single. At all times, at some times more than ever I use myself as my own muse. One way or another I'ma get the material out.
MVRemix: Why did you choose to do a track thanking the people who inspired you as opposed to writing it in your liner notes like what normally is done?
Raheem DeVaughn: I think you hit it right on the nose, I'm not a normal artist. So I had to do it like I had to do it. If I'ma do it, I'ma do it how nobody has done it. You know what I'm sayin'? Anytime my mother can call me up and say, "Oh, you just made history because I've been listenin' to that album for years and nobody ever did that before." I read one review where, whoever, Joe Blow went on me and said "This guy did an eight minute long thank you? That's crazy. Why would you do that? That was a waste of time." My whole thing is that I live to be out of the box. The fact that he sat there and listened to it the whole time lets me know... and he timed it. It lets me know that I'm on to something here.
MVRemix: Who inspired your live show?
Raheem DeVaughn: Cats within my circle. I'm inspired by artists. I'm inspired by... A friend of mine, W. Ellington Felton. At one time we used to have body painting. Folks haven't seen nothin' yet. I'm just getting started. I always love to perform, but I wanna give the show colour - give the show life. That's what the artistic side of what I do is all about. We're currently stacking the murals from each show. We're gonna do a real big auction. We may do it city to city, we may do it strictly in Japan. I don't know exactly how we're gonna freak it yet. But we're definitely looking forward to doing a big auction and we're gonna donate the monies and different proceeds too.
MVRemix: Is there a video being worked on for "Believe"?
Raheem DeVaughn: Yeah man, I've got the treatment ready man and everything. I'm just waiting on those cocksuckers. I'm waiting on Barry White. You can quote me on this, I'm waiting on Barry White to give me the money to shoot a real video so that I can add colour to this timeless music that I'm putting out. Once he gives me the money to shoot this video, then we'll shoot it. But I'm actually working on some other things...a reality show. I'm working on doing some films and more importantly doing some short independent films related to my career and things that I deal with on a daily basis.
MVRemix: Branching off of what you've just said, I heard an interview where you'd said if you waited for Jive to give you money and to get on with things in your ideal sense, then they wouldn't have gotten done. Has that been a problem thus far?
Raheem DeVaughn: Oh definitely man. These guys are the cheapest on earth. "Guess Who Loves You More," that video is a great video and you'd be surprised what we shot it for. We did that video with literally no money, like 30 grand. So imagine what I could do with 150 or 100 or 120. I'm not trying to make a movie here, but I know the music business where seeing is believing. I'm just making it more accessible. Right now I don't have any commercials running on TV or whatever. Buy me an ad... The word of mouth is circulating. One thing, the power of the music; there's nothing greater than it. It will circulate and spread like a wild fire. People will be scratching their heads ,"How'd he sell a million records with no promotion? No real video." The music is spreading like a virus with the help of good dudes like yourself... The interviews that I do. People are calling me now from all around the world. I've got a number now where people can call me. Mike Jones has shown me the way.
MVRemix: Tell me about "The Street Experience" mix CDs...
Raheem DeVaughn: Just another branch, another shade of me and my creativity and being frustrated with the album, I just started to put those joints out. I'm about to do my fourth one and release it as a cross promotion for the album. Then I think I'm gonna fall back from that for now and focus on doing these short films. It's great man. A lot of producers that I couldn't necessarily work with so I just take my beats and do my own songs to 'em.
MVRemix: A la "Fight Club," "If you could fight any celebrity, who would you fight?"
Raheem DeVaughn: [ponders] I don't know man. I could tell you a couple of females that I would love to have my baby. [chuckles] I'm a lover, I'm not a fighter man.
MVRemix: When creating music, do you listen to a lot or do you isolate yourself to try to let the ideas come in?
Raheem DeVaughn: Both. I listen; I like to check for the next best thing, what's out there. But when I go into the studio, I enter my own world. I'm just trying to make timeless music when I go into the studio. With that being said I'm not discouraged by listening to anybody else. There's a lot of dope artists out there. If I don't listen to music, check it out or whatever. I wouldn't have probably the project I do now. You know what I mean?
MVRemix: Can you predict your next year for me?
Raheem DeVaughn: Touring. A lot of shows. The buzz getting big, bigger. The story is spreading. I may or may not still be on Jive. If they don't get it, then release me. If you gon' ride with me, then ride with me. I constantly put up the argument to put me in the position to sell myself. My body of work speaks for itself. Ultimately, whatever's meant to happen is gonna happen. I stay in the street with mine, I stay on my promotion grind. It's gonna pay off. I'm happy now, don't misconstrue what I'm saying. I just know that these guys got a lot of dollars and they can throw them at whatever they want. At the end of the day, as long as I can support my family and people still buy the project... You know, if I can go to a show and I see somebody's face light up, I'm good. I stay doing the unbelievable, that's what I do. I embrace it.
I got a phone number now where the people can call me. The fans can call, they can call from all over the world 1-240-455-2434. Call me, let me know what songs you like. If you a promoter and you want to bring me to your country, call me and we can see how we can work that out.
Lâ€™Orange and Stik Figa â€“ The City Under The City album review
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