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Sunday, June 26, 2022

Music

Artist offers insight on upcoming release


R&B artist Raheem Devaughn, pictured above at a show in Oct. 2005, hopes people will think deeply about the messages and commentary embedded throughout "The Love, War and MasterPeace." | Timothy M. Moore/Wikimedia Commons

For R&B music aficionados, there are two types of recording artists: the chart-topping provocateurs teetering on the brink of overexposure and the serious-minded musicians who navigate their own lane just outside of the mainstream.

Maryland-native and self-proclaimed ‘R&B hippie neo-soul rock star,’ Raheem DeVaughn, champions the latter on his third studio album on the Jive imprint, The Love & War MasterPeace, set for release on March 2.

Known for cooking up salacious odes of love and empowerment spiced with sociopolitical revelation like a master chef, the two-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter delivers songs like “The Greatness,” “B.O.B.” and “Black and Blue,” which overwhelmingly display his improved grasp of song structure, musical growth and, of course, his signature falsetto.

“This is my rawest album yet, on both sides of the fence,” said DeVaughn, who cites Prince, Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye as his biggest musical influences. “This album is about trying to master your own peace and seek truth in these trying times. Life has made me more militant and more conscious about the state of the world, which is why half of the songs are socially conscious and half of them are about love.

“I’m about to restore the balance with this album.”

Despite not reaching platinum or gold status on either of his previous releases, DeVaughn has a devoted fan base that continues to be the arbiters of his rising profile among other revered soul icons such as Erykah Badu, Musiq Soulchild and Maxwell.

“At the end of the day, I can’t bear anybody’s cross but my own musically,” DeVaughn said. “I’m in my own lane, and I’m always focused on staying true to myself and my art. But people will find that this work is consistent throughout, as far as quality. This is my best music to date.”

“Bulletproof,” the Ludacris-assisted leadoff single from MasterPeace, sets the tone for the sensual yet politically charged opus, which is narrated by well-known civil rights activist and Princeton professor Cornel West.

“There’s a spiritual war going on,” DeVaughn said. “So my music is symbolically reflecting on the times we are living in. I want people to take heed to the message.”

“Nobody Wins a War,” perhaps the most ambitious track on the album, reads like the playbill for a neo-soul concert series: Jill Scott, Black Gypsy, Dwele, Chrisette Michele, Citizen Cope, Chico DeBarge, Ledesi, Bilal and Anthony Hamilton.  The song provides a stark opinion on the wars that have become the focus of this nation in recent years.

“It was a huge undertaking,” DeVaughn said. “It was hard to get everybody in the studio to record this song, but it’s a powerful song and really is one of the best songs on the album.

“And when I say ‘album,’ I mean that I’m into making albums that have a concept. This album has 20 songs that all fall within that concept.”

Armed with fresh material, DeVaughn hopes to tour as soon as late March or April.

“A lot of my live shows have been mostly improv,” DeVaughn said. “But I’m getting more structure to my shows, and I’m getting better as a performer, so when fans leave one of my performances, they’ll leave feeling good, empowered and loved.”

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