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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 20 years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, and B-movies. Part time ninja. Kicked cancer’s ass. My memoir, ChemBro, is out now!
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Raheem DeVaughn Is Keeping Things Sultry
Thursday, February 12, 2015

Leave it to veteran R&B singer Raheem DeVaughn to find a way to extend Valentine’s Day. With his latest album, Love Sex Passion, hitting stores on February 17th, he’s making sure listeners keep that loving feeling well past the 14th.

A consummate mood setter, DeVaughn has always been masterful at crafting music that causes couples to get a little closer, and sometimes a lot closer.

With Love Sex Passion on the way, I caught up with DeVaughn to find out more about the album, as well as what needs to happen for R&B to see a resurgence. He also talked about his time working at a Tower Records back in the day, and how the experience helped shape some of his future career moves.

Adam Bernard: I know this might be considered a loaded question with the title of your album being Love Sex Passion, but what was going on in your life that inspired the album?

Raheem DeVaughn: I think the stuff that always goes on in my life, everyday situations, but where I’m at musically, I think I’m making some of the best music of my life, and I think that I know what people want from me. The ladies, in particular, have been waiting on an album that’s intense poetically, and almost could be like a slow jam tape, where you put it on from beginning to end and let it ride, with the exception of one uptempo record that I have on the album.

It’s just a mood I’m trying to create, and I think that my male audience also appreciates it. I tend to be able to be a voice for them, or kinda put their words together and convey what they’re not able to, so that was kinda like the goal with the album.

Adam Bernard: It sounds like it should come with scented candles and a bottle of wine.

Raheem DeVaughn: Yeah, it could come with that; scented candles, a bottle of wine, tissues, condoms, oils and incense, all that good stuff.

Adam Bernard: Do you have any especially memorable moments from the recording process?

Raheem DeVaughn: I think one of the cool things was being able to reach back out to Boney James, and sending over a track to him to jump on, and Trombone Shorty, as well. Also, going in with Larry Gold, who is a great string arranger, and composer, he’s been in the game over 50 years, I went to Philly personally to sit in with Larry and have him do strings on a couple of cuts for the album, and he also did an interview for me for a documentary. Good vibes, man, Good vibes.

Adam Bernard: As someone who sings music for the ladies, and for men who want to convey their emotions to the ladies, you get a lot of attention from women.

Raheem DeVaughn: Yeah, I guess. {laughs}

Adam Bernard: Tell me about a time someone went too far in an attempt to get your attention, and your affection.

Raheem DeVaughn: As far as a fan? They go pretty hard, I don’t know if “too far” is the word, but I distinctly remember a show we did in Dallas where a young lady, I went out in the crowd, and I guess she kind got aroused, and got in the moment, and she just kinda just whipped out her breast. That was pretty interesting.

Adam Bernard: Have you ever had a situation where you were scared, where someone found your dressing room, or mailed you something and it concerned you that they knew your address?

Raheem DeVaughn: Nah, nothing like that. I’ve been blessed not to have that.

Adam Bernard: Going back to your youth, you worked at a Tower Records back in the day. What are some of your favorite aspects of record store culture that you miss now that record stores are almost extinct?

Raheem DeVaughn: I miss the process of going into the stores and buying the music.

Talking about from a standpoint of working there, it was very educational. I learned a lot about who buys the music, who supports the music. I learned a lot about a lot of different genres of music. It was kinda like a tutorial in music education from a consumer standpoint, as well as artistically.

Adam Bernard: So you were even thinking about things like fan bases, and who buys music, back then?

Raheem DeVaughn: I definitely was. Technically, Tower Records still owes me a check.

Adam Bernard: Really? I don’t think you’re gonna get that check.

Raheem DeVaughn: Yeah, for some independent music I had put out. I had independent music in there on the shelf, so I could be my own salesman. People would ask what’s new, and I’d say check out this independent group called Urban Ave 31, or The Crossroads. Both were groups I had independent projects out with, so I could say hey, check this out.

Adam Bernard: How incredibly judgmental were you of people’s purchases when they bought bad music?

Raheem DeVaughn: Not really judgmental, but if people asked my opinion I gave them my honest opinion.

Even now, I review music for my radio show (on BLIS.fm), and stuff like that, and you’re not gonna like everything. Not everybody is gonna like my music. Different strokes for different folks. Certain songs, the listener, the consumer, they’re looking for different things. Some people are attracted to the music, the beat, some people are into lyrics.

Adam Bernard: Some people want the essential oils.

Raheem DeVaughn: Exactly.

Adam Bernard: Did you ever get to do an in-store at your old store?

Raheem DeVaughn: No, I didn’t do an in-store at the old store (as a signed artist), I did on an independent level, though.

Adam Bernard: Moving back to the present, with the exception of Taylor Swift, nobody is selling albums like they used to, and R&B seems to have taken a bigger sales hit than most genres. Tank recently had a bit of a social media meltdown when his first week sales numbers came in and they weren’t anywhere near what they used to be. What does R&B have to do to regain its place in people’s lives, and on the charts?

Raheem DeVaughn: I think there will be a resurgence of R&B, and people supporting it. That’s in defense of Tank, but also, I wanted to call him and say hey bro, there’s certain things you gotta do outside the label now.

Tank, myself, there are a gang of artists you can mention that are signed for years, and make recording deals where you can become accustomed, and spoiled, to the old way, and the old thinking of how things used to happen. The big budgets, and video budgets, and marketing dollars. The money used to fall out the sky for urban music, Black music, and just music period, in the music business.

It’s total night and day. If that means you gotta go in your pocket to shoot your own video, or put ten to twenty (grand) up to work your own song at radio, in some cases I’ve done that, and that’s what it means to be fully independent as an artist.

I think it’s just a transition of understanding the culture, and having a pulse on the people. My last album sold over 50k units quietly, with no real fireworks, no reality shows, no nothing. I just gave you great music, and a great performance, like I always do, and a few images, and the word spread virally. I’m looking to hopefully do at least that, or maybe double that, this go around.

You can still make music, and you can still make money as an artist, as an urban artist, and as an artist period, in this business, but you have to be aware of all the different sources for music, and how the world is changing, and things going digital, the streaming process. There are just so many other components to it.

Independent life is not as glamorous, but it can be lucrative, it can work.

Adam Bernard: It sounds like the DIY process is continually becoming more exhausting, but there’s still a reward for all that work.

Raheem DeVaughn: Yeah, and of course with artists like D’Angelo, who reemerges and comes back out, Jazmine Sullivan, myself, it’s great for music, it’s great for the culture.

I think history repeats itself, and you’re gonna see sales start to go back up. You gotta have realistic goals, though, and know what it is you want to do, and what your expectations are.

Adam Bernard: Finally, to end things on a lighter note, what’s the most embarrassing thing you might be caught singing along to in the car, or while at the gym?

Raheem DeVaughn: I can be extremely ratchet at times.

I think I’m probably the only artist that’s worked with Boney James and UGK. That’s pretty diverse. Here’s the advantage I have, if I’m busting out singing out loud, I can actually sing, so it’s not gonna be too embarrassing for me. I can put my own twist on it.

Interview originally ran on Arena.com.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 12:30 PM  
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