Raheem DeVaughn - The Love and War Masterpeace

Raheem DeVaughn
reheem-loveandwar.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

He refers to himself as "Radio Raheem" and the "R&B Hippie neo-Soul Rock Star," but the titles don't matter as much as the talents that Raheem DeVaughn can lay claim to. He combines the best of both worlds, constructing lush, ethereal contemporary R&B with a classic musician's touch (thanks to growing up under the influence of his father, jazz cellist Abdul Wadud); wooing the ladies with the sweet while keeping his promotional skills street.  Only the most confident and charismatic of performers can maintain an audience's attention as he evolves from project to project, so those who follow the "Underground King" will be richly rewarded when they get a hold of his third major-label release, The Love and War Masterpeace. It is a sprawling, yet substantial set filled with songs about....well, love and war. There are star-studded cameos and melodies to spare, but the most essential element---Radio Raheem himself---never gets lost in the shuffle.

He refers to himself as "Radio Raheem" and the "R&B Hippie neo-Soul Rock Star," but the titles don't matter as much as the talents that Raheem DeVaughn can lay claim to. He combines the best of both worlds, constructing lush, ethereal contemporary R&B with a classic musician's touch (thanks to growing up under the influence of his father, jazz cellist Abdul Wadud); wooing the ladies with the sweet while keeping his promotional skills street.  Only the most confident and charismatic of performers can maintain an audience's attention as he evolves from project to project, so those who follow the "Underground King" will be richly rewarded when they get a hold of his third major-label release, The Love and War Masterpeace. It is a sprawling, yet substantial set filled with songs about....well, love and war. There are star-studded cameos and melodies to spare, but the most essential element---Radio Raheem himself---never gets lost in the shuffle.

If reading Dr. Cornel West's name in the credits gives you pause, or if you found the first single, "Bulletproof," to be a bit Marvin-Gaye-esque, then you've probably boarded the DeVaughn Train about halfway down the track, since he's been melding the personal and the political ever since his embryonic stage as a performer (thanks to his prior collaborations around 2000 with Urban Ave 31). Passionate, yet without preachiness, Mr. DeVaughn keeps the scales equal between flirtation ("The Greatness"), tooting his own horn about his lovemaking skills ("Microphone") and telling another prospect that, quite frankly, he can get the job better than her automatic apparatus ("B.O.B."). "Garden of Love" is probably the first certified R&B Babymaker of 2010, reminiscent of Quincy Jones' "Secret Garden," and "My Wife" is far more sincere and sensual than the trite, tired "neighbors-know-my-name" sex-you-down tracks that most of his peers are offering.

As for the cameos, they get the job done and then some: Damian Marley adds an earthen edge to the apocalyptic "Revelations 2010" and Bun B drops searing street game on the plea to wayward fathers, "Wing & A Prayer." But the collection's true tour de force is "Nobody Wins a War," clocking in at nearly eight minutes long but totally absorbing thanks to vocals from an illuminating who's who of today's true-school R&B: Ledisi, Bilal, Chico DeBarge, Anthony Hamilton, Chrisette Michele (among others) and Jill Scott -- who uses her sharpened maternal instincts to amp up the pleading poem at the end to chastise battling nations to think of their impact on their communities and the world at large: "Your win is shallow, your truth is oblique. Your patriotism is garbage....You send my children to murder human beings, families they do not yet know....you send my children to war....as if there is no possibility for peace."   

If nothing else, Love .... will ensure that Raheem cements his legacy as one of his generation's most gifted performers. Dr. West's spoken praise of the man may seem indulgent and over-the-top, but what one can't say is that he hasn't earned it and that another title, "Grammy-Award-winning," isn't that far off into the future. Wholeheartedly and unequivocally recommended.

By Melody Charles

 
World Premiere - Chris Jasper - "For The Love of You"
Album of the Month - Jeffrey Dennis - "Lovin On You"
Featured Album - Leon Ware - "Rainbow Deux"

Leave a comment!