Raheem-Neo soulster

David Goodson | 8/1/2013, 11:03 a.m.

It’s rare when you get to chop it up with one of your favorite artists or an artist at the top of his game. During a recent pow-wow with Raheem DeVaughn, however, we got to kill two birds with one stone.

Since his 2005 major label debut “The Love Experience,” DeVaughn has been one of a handful of consistent providers of unapologetic, unadulterated soul music in the past decade. In 2008, he escaped the web of the sophomore jinx with “Love Behind the Melody.” “Woman,” the lead single, is his biggest hit to date and was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award in the category of Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. A year later, “Customer” was nominated for Best R&B Song.

In 2010, DeVaughn threw the game a curve with the ambitious “The Love and War MasterPeace,” which was also Grammy-nominated as Best R&B Album of the Year. In 2013, the momentum continues, as DeVaughn is currently riding the waves of a top 20 single with saxophonist Boney James called “Maker of Love.” James shared of the pairing, “Raheem is an artist I’ve wanted to work with for a long time, and I got an email saying that ‘Raheem DeVaughn is following you on Twitter’.

“So now that I had a link, I sent him a direct message telling him that I had a song for him. I sent him the track, and he came back with what I thought would be a demo, but instead, I got an incredible lyric and finished vocal that ended up on the album [‘The Beat’] as is.”

This single serves as a bridge to the highly anticipated fourth studio album, “A Place Called LoveLand.” To offset the smoothness of the “Maker of Love” single, DeVaughn chose the vibrant, up-tempo “Love Connection,” produced by Carvin & Ivan. “It’s a feel-good record that is a great way to reintroduce me, my sound and create a sonic connection between people.”

The follow-up track, “Ridiculous,” dipped back into the balladeer bag that makes the ladies hearts melt, as DeVaughn teams up with Ne-Yo, who wrote “I Don’t Care” on DeVaughn’s 2010 album release.

“From one songwriter to another, I think Ne-Yo’s definitely a blessing to R&B music and all genres in fact. ‘Ridiculous’ is a beautiful love song that speaks for the brother’s out there who don’t know how to express their emotions into words,” said DeVaughn. “This is a timeless joint that’ll help brothers convey their sentiments for and to someone. That’s what it’s all about.

“I think it will be one of those records that you’ll hear forever.”

“A Place Called LoveLand” reveals another facet of growth. Formerly signed to Jive Records, DeVaughn releases his new music through a joint deal between his own label, 368 Music Group, and Mass Appeal Entertainment. With 15 mixtape releases coming via the independent route, DeVaughn still feels the challenge of stepping out on his own. Of the entrepreneurial venture, he says, “I’m essentially signed to myself, and I have to wear and juggle a lot of hats, but it’s high risk, high reward. I’m ready for that challenge.”