Time travel is not possible yet but until then there will always be music. Certain songs just have an uncanny ability to transport us back to memorable moments. Whether those memories are loving, painful or lustful, Raheem DeVaughn has made a career out of tapping into people’s emotions by creating personal soundtracks to our love lives. For his fifth studio album, Love, Sex & Passion, the singer/songwriter wants to take listeners back to the future. “This album has a very ’90s throwback feel to it but with a futuristic 2020 spin on it,” Raheem says of his new opus. “It’s a little edgy and before its time in places. But this album will probably go down in history as my most sophisticated, erotic bedroom joint. I didn’t focus on what anybody else was doing versus what I just wanted to do.”
What Raheem has done over the past decade is carve out a lane for himself as one of this generation’s most beloved voices. The Maryland resident’s catalog of sultry melodies and passionate bedroom anthems have earned him a loyal fan base as well as a host of industry accolades, including three Grammy nominations. Originally signed to Jive Records, Raheem’s first three albums—The Love Experience (2005), Love Behind the Melody (2008) and The Love & War MasterPeace (2010)—resulted in chart-topping singles like “You,” “Customer” and the female-empowerment anthem “Woman.” Stepping out as an independent artist for his 2013 release, A Place Called Love Land, Raheem remained consistent in his artistry and the same holds true with Love, Sex & Passion.
As the title suggests, the album is centered on the emotional and physical chemistry that happens between a man and woman. The brutally honest “All I Know” reveals the male perspective on being a sidepiece, while the bluesy “When You Love Someone” is classic Raheem, as the crooner skillfully captures the complicated nuances of romance. He even breaks from the norm and begs on record for the first time with the impassioned “Baby Come Back” before pushing the envelope on his vulnerability even further on the confessional “I Miss Your Sex.” Raheem is known for his anthems and doesn’t disappoint here. “Black Ice Cream” is his ode to ebony skin that’s sure to pique the interest of the beautiful, radiant, dark-skinned women of the world. Then of course there’s the lead single, “Queen,” which praises the strength and power of what it means to be a woman.
“I approached this album as if I was recording my first all over again not in a sense where I tried to top it but in an organic sense where I know what I’m known for,” explains Raheem, who initially penned “Queen” for Aretha Franklin. “I know what women appreciate about my music, so with the current climate of hip-hop and R&B being a lot more disrespectful towards women, I thought it was a great time to put out a song that reminds people across all the generations what women represent for us.”
That’s especially important for Raheem because of the strong female figures in his own life. Raised primarily by his mother, who worked in law enforcement, Raheem experienced both discipline and love, which set the groundwork for his understanding and appreciation of the opposite sex. Although Raheem’s father, famed jazz cellist Abdul Wadud, wasn’t in the household, he did play a role in inspiring Raheem to pursue music and later launch his own indie label, 368 Music Group. “My dad put out an album called By Myself in the ’70s on his own, so he knows what it is to be an independent artist,” says Raheem. “At this point in my life he gives me great advice and is a great listener because he’s from that same walk of life.”
Being relatable is something that Raheem prides himself on. A man of the people, he communicates regularly with fans on social media and during his weekly self-titled online radio show on WPBradio.com. It’s all tied to the singer never forgetting where he came from. “I wasn’t always ‘Raheem DeVaughn,’” he says. “I’m that kid who sold sneakers at Foot Action, sold records at Tower Records, did telemarketing and knocking on your door in 90 degree weather trying to sell you a fence. I come from humble beginnings and because I been all those people I can relate to all those people. Plus, all those different jobs had one thing in common and that was customer service and even being Raheem DeVaughn I’m still providing a service. My fans are my customers.”
With the recent launch of his Love Life Foundation, the budding humanitarian is ready to give back more than just music to his fans. “There’s still a lot to learn but I feel like I mastered a major part of my life as a human being,” he says of the charity. “The legacy you build is not about right now it’s what people say about you in history and you’re writing history every day. I got a key to the city from the Mayor of DC back in 2011, which is unheard of this early in my career. It’s an honor and I don’t take it for granted. It just makes me wonder what’s next because I feel like I’m still a fetus in this industry. Other artists out there have 80 records and this only my fifth album; I got a lot of music and catching up to do.”
Raheem Devaughn’s tracks