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Raheem DeVaughn Turns Dr. Cornel West into an MC
Raheem DeVaughn's 'The Love & War MasterPeace' has received rave reviews from critics and fans alike. The album -- the R&B singer's third -- is the product of an inspirational vision, intended to be like a modern day Marvin Gaye 'I Want You' meets Prince's 'Sign of the Times,' with clear political overtones to add a little more meat to the album's skeleton.
Instead of blindly throwing the listener into such heavy material, DeVaughn reached out to Dr. Cornell West to emcee the album and tie the project together, a decision that DeVaughn had made once he recognized the format that the project was starting to take. "Dr. Cornel West is a mentor, but not only that, I think he has what I like to refer to as an infectious spirit, as far as he's the type of person that when he speaks, you hear him speak and you want to listen," DeVaughn told The BoomBox of his decision to include Dr. West on the album. "Like even if you don't know who he is, you immediately tune in and listen to what that individual has to say. So that's why I used him in particular."
The guest-heavy 'Nobody Wins a War' might be one of the standout songs from 'MasterPeace,' but it's DeVaughn's chivalrous attitude towards women and understanding of the feminine struggle that truly sets this album apart from his contemporaries. Instead of devolving into recording graphic sexual come-ons like many of today's chart-toppers -- he calls them victims of a "sucka mentality" -- DeVaughn focuses on the harsh realities of relationships on the album, using a personal friend's experience with domestic violence as inspiration for the emotive track 'Black and Blue.'
"Throughout the course of this album, I was in Atlanta and got a phone call from a good friend of mine who was going through that situation. Like, literally called me in the middle of my session in tears, so that was definitely from the heart. That's one of those records that was wearing it on my sleeve, that I made a mental note that night like, 'Yo, I'm going to address that on this album'," he says. "When a woman listens to my record, I want them to feel empowered. I want to know that they're loved and appreciated. And I want the men to feel the same thing too, the energy that can radiate off of one another."
With the album striking a chord with listeners on different levels, DeVaughn plans on riding the promo wave in the forthcoming months with 'The Love & War MasterPeace,' making sure that his album touches as many listeners as possible before he feels that his work is complete. And when that day comes, it's on to the next one. "There's no sense of sitting on this type of product and not letting the world know it exists," he says. "We've still got a lot of work, but I'm anxious to go out and start performing the songs, some of the songs that are my favorites on the album, that kind of thing. But we moving full steam ahead, and I'll be back in the studio soon working on another blueprint for the next thing."