To call singer/songwriter Raheem DeVaughn a newcomer would be a grave inaccuracy, given the fact he’s been busy building a following in Washington D.C. for the past several years, and released a few records independently under his own label, Urban Ave 31. DeVaughn signed with Jive records in 2002 and his debut is finally here, in the form of The Love Experience, a penetrating, sensitive, and soulful record that’s creating a buzz worldwide.
The record’s first single, Guess Who Loves You More, is one of those instant hits, the kind of midtempo, irresistible song you find yourself completely immersed in from the first beat, which impeccably incorporates an Earth, Wind, and Fire sample. A few seconds later, DeVaughn’s smooth voice comes in with the sing-along chorus, and you’re hooked. Other notable tracks on The Love Experience include Who, DeVaughn’s contemporary answer to Marvin Gaye’s What’s Goin’ On?, Ask Yourself, a super hot “Till the Cops Come Knockin’ style ditty, Believe, a ballad that promises ultimate devotion, and the moving, reflective title track.
What makes The Love Experience so good is the combination of DeVaughn’s no holds barred, brutally honest songwriting and his voice, which is part crushed velvet croon and part soaring falsetto. True, DeVaughn often sounds like he’s channeling Marvin Gaye, Prince, and D’Angelo, but he’s able to emulate his predecessors rather than just offer a cheap imitation. And what separates his record from others is this: his compelling stories are clearly his own. From heartbreaking tales, to sensual ballads, to social commentaries, DeVaughn’s bittersweet experiences make The Love Experience a striking and relevant record.
DeVaughn spoke recently about his new record, his spontaneous songwriting technique, and how he stays in touch with his supporters.