Raheem DeVaughn is one of Hip Hop's go-to feature singers. Like his Jive Records label-mate Anthony Hamilton, Radio Raheem has ascended from the ranks of underground emcee appearances to major singles and Grammy Award nominations and BET Award wins.
Speaking with HipHopDX earlier this month, DeVaughn recalled his early beginnings from some forgotten faces of the Rap underground through to his most recent major label work. "Probably, My first one was the joint I did with Asheru [& Blue Black] featuring Talib Kweli called 'Mood Swings.' Then me and [Jazzy] Jeff connected. Actually, we got connected through Kev Brown, and it pretty much travelled from there. I worked with De La Soul, I'm on both of the last UGK albums , I'm on Talib Kweli's [Eardrum], the Ghostface [Killah's Ghostdini album], just whole bunch of little projects."
Like many in the Hip Hop community, and perhaps many readers of this site, Raheem also asserts that quality is often lost in the genre. "I just enjoy making great music. I love Hip Hop, I love what Hip Hop used to be about. I feel like it changed tremendously, drastically. I got my own opinions on that, but I feel where I can get in and preserve it and work with some cats that I think are talented and respect my talent and give them a record that something you can hear indefinitely." He added that Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2 is his favorite Rap release of 2009. He went into detail, "[Raekwon] put out a real Hip Hop [album], but it doesn't feel dated either. He put it out the album and it felt like when the Wu was out, feel like the way a Wu-Tang album should sound like. That was probably the hardest joint, no compromising. You can tell he did specifically what he wanted to do. I don't want to let the cat out the bag yet, but you can definitely expect some Raheem DeVaughn/Raekwon collabos in the near future."
With that opinion in tact, Raheem is bringing some talent in the game, via his 368 Music Group. His first artist, Phil Ade, both raps and sings. "He's 21 years old. He's really dope, really creative. So [I've] just been developing him and being be a mentor at the same time, it's coming along rather nicely. If you want to check his new mixtape and project it's been out for a couple months now, It's called Starting On JV you can download it at 368MusicGroup.com." DeVaughn says that some of his own promotional work is only available on the site for free download.
Another trend in the 2009 has been the burgeoning DMV movement. Through success from Wale and Mario, the DC-Maryland-Virginia area witnessed a lot of national success. A pioneer in that awareness, Raheem commented, "I always [have] been looked at as kind of the spearhead of the movement, as far as the underground is concerned, because of my background being as the artist that had his own mixtapes and independent albums. I used to put them together myself and package them," he recalled. "I was able to give advice to Wale before he started, I was able to give to Tabi Bonney, [and] more importantly, just to lead by example. I think definitely being nominated for the Grammy's the last two years in particular definitely brought attention to the area. Also, I think it's that time, every area has their time and as far as the DMV is concerned now is definitely the time whether it's independent or a major release, music is music."
2010 promises to further that pioneering movement on DeVaughn's part. He has a double disc called The Love & War Masterpeace coming on 368 Music Group/Jive Records. Like previous releases in the '90s, the discs are themed separately. "[ It's] half socially conscious, half love," Raheem told DX. "I have a lot of collabos not that I feel like I needed, these are artist I always wanted to work with so I had the opportunity to do that. [Ludacris] is on the album, Wale is on the album, my new artist Phil Aid is on the album, Bun B is on the album, Damian Marley in on the album."
A few months after the epic Rap collaboraton "Forever" with Eminem, Lil Wayne, Drake and Kanye West, Raheem DeVaughn has assembled a single cut that's a super-collaboration of his peers. "I have one song in the particular that features Anthony Hamilton, Dwele, Citizen Cope, Chrisette Michele, Bilal, there are a couple other people, it's called 'Nobody Wins The War' it's for the soldiers. What's so ironic about it is that the song has been written and recorded over a year and a half and with the address [President] Obama just made to the state, it's right on time. If you're a artist and you really pay attention to what's going on, it's not rocket science to put something out with some substance and talk about things that are unfolding right before our eyes."