If you listen to urban radio, you probably feel like you’re listening to the same six songs over and over and over again, and it’s rare to hear really good R&B songs anymore.
Roland Martin recently sat down with Raheem DeVaughn to talk about the state of the music industry, the future of radio and his performance at the Howard Theatre.
MR. MARTIN: If you listen to urban radio, you probably feel like you’re listening to the same six songs over and over and over again, and it’s rare to hear really good R&B songs anymore.
I recently sat down with Raheem DeVaughn to talk about the state of the music industry. Here’s what D.C.’s finest had to say.
[BEGIN INTERVIEW WITH RAHEEM DEVAUGHN.]
MR. MARTIN: You really don’t have today artists who are tapping into that same style of music that we saw in the ’60s and ’70s. Is that a – a result of corporations controlling music labels and not really wanting artists to do that? Or, is it the generation of artists – they don’t really have it in them?
MR. RAHEEM DEVAUGHN: I don’t – I don’t – I think it’s more – at the end of the day, I think it boils to the artist. You can’t really be controlled by any machine, or – you know, you – you make a conscious decision to want to be part of the machine. You make a conscious decision, at the end of the day, what you want to say as an artist. So, you know, I – I feel like that maybe we[’re] just in a – we[’re] just in a place and time where, you know, a lot of the artists just don’t care. You know what I mean? Or – or, they might not understand the power of their voice, or the strength – you know, the strength in numbers, or the strength in the – the power and the message of what you put out there.
MR. MARTIN: Is there a place in today’s modern radio for artists like you? Or, has the Internet really helped you replace, if you will, the old system of trying to get the airplay on the station?
MR. DEVAUGHN: I think Internet radio is the future. Satellite radio – that is the future. You know, we’re in a free world of music now. You can pretty much record a[n] album in your bathroom, if you want, if that’s your prerogative, and press the “SEND” button. And if it’s great music, or [a] great product; and people feel like they can gravitate to it; and, most importantly, honest music – I had the honor of – of reopening the – the –
MR. MARTIN: Howard Theater.
MR. DEVAUGHN: — Howard Theater.
MR. MARTIN: And – and, actually, I actually have a little bit of your performance. I actually shot –
MR. DEVAUGHN: Oh, wow. [Chuckles.]
MR. MARTIN: — the video. You – you played with Frédéric Yonnet –
MR. DEVAUGHN: Yeah.
MR. MARTIN: — who was on the harmonica.
MR. DEVAUGHN: Yes, sir.
MR. MARTIN: And so – so, we’re going to play a little bit of that, and we’re going to come back.
[VIDEO CLIP OF MR. DEVAUGHN’S PERFORMANCE. ]
MR. MARTIN: Now, that was an amazing night because, man, first of all, you had Joe Sample, George Duke, Dionne –
MR. DEVAUGHN: House band – [crosstalk] –
MR. MARTIN: — Warwick. I mean –
MR. DEVAUGHN: — George Duke –
MR. MARTIN: — you – you –
MR. DEVAUGHN: — as the M.D.[?]. It’s –
MR. MARTIN: — I mean you –
MR. DEVAUGHN: — crazy.
MR. MARTIN: — had I mean Bill Cosby –
MR. DEVAUGHN: Berry – Berry Gordy right –
MR. MARTIN: — Berry –
MR. DEVAUGHN: — there.
MR. MARTIN: — Gordy, Smokey Robinson.
MR. DEVAUGHN: Yeah, man.
MR. MARTIN: And so that – that had to be a little bit intimidating, to be a performer, and you’ve got to perform in front of those folks.
MR. DEVAUGHN: Well, I knew – let me be honest with you. I knew – I knew that – you know, I knew there [were] a lot of prominent people there that night.
MR. MARTIN: Right.
MR. DEVAUGHN: I didn’t know that Smokey was there, and I didn’t know that Berry was there. And I didn’t find out they were there until after I performed, and they came backstage and –
MR. MARTIN: Now, was that a good thing for you?
MR. DEVAUGHN: — yeah, it was crazy. Like –
MR. MARTIN: [Chuckles.]
MR. DEVAUGHN: — you know, to have Smokey come; you know, bum-rush the stage and be like, “Yo, man. You were dope.” And –
MR. MARTIN: I mean you –
MR. DEVAUGHN: — embrace me –
MR. MARTIN: — you and –
MR. DEVAUGHN: — man.
MR. MARTIN: — you and –
MR. DEVAUGHN: And, like –
MR. MARTIN: — Fred did turn it out. I –
MR. DEVAUGHN: — yeah.
MR. MARTIN: — mean it was a lot of great performers, but y’all took “Let’s Get It On” to a different level –
MR. DEVAUGHN: Aw, man.
MR. MARTIN: — that night.
MR. DEVAUGHN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Definitely, the honor – you know, the – the Marvin tribute. But what I was going to say [was] one – one of the most profound things, I think, that I took from that night was – was Smokey’s speech –
MR. MARTIN: Um-hum.
MR. DEVAUGHN: — and where, you know – and that’s just from a songwriter to a songwriter – and just saying that, like – like, “Yo, make honest music.”
MR. MARTIN: Thi- — this how I alw- — I can always tell people who know how to sing. Can they sing with –
MR. DEVAUGHN: [Chuckles.]
MR. MARTIN: — no music, no band – nothing? What kind of skills do they have?
So, for our audience, if you don’t know about Raheem DeVaughn, give ’em a l little sump’n’ sump’n’ –
MR. DEVAUGHN: All right.
MR. MARTIN: — as an introduction.
MR. DEVAUGHN: [Sings.]
MR. MARTIN: Y’all see why I wanted to have him on the show.
Raheem DeVaughn. Man –
MR. DEVAUGHN: Yes, sir.
MR. MARTIN: — I appreciate it.
[THE TWO SHAKE HANDS. END OF INTERVIEW.]
MR. MARTIN: A special thanks to Raheem DeVaughn for stopping by.