Raheem DeVaughn explains going indie: ‘The machine never understood what I am’


Raheem DeVaughn is at a major crossroad in his career. The soul singer is prepping his fourth album, A Place Called Love Land, for its September 3 release and DeVaughn is embarking on the newest phase of an already-successful musical journey. “This album is major–for a lot of reasons,” DeVaughn tells RO. “But most importantly, it’s my first major release as an independent artist.”

The singer launched his career with Jive Records back in 2005, but since 2011, DeVaughn has been an independent artist. …Love Land will be released via E1 Music, and the Maryland-born star understands what this release means for him professionally. “A lot of people think I’m still part of what used to be the Jive family, but I’ve been laying low and independent for going on three years now,” he explains. “And just in that alone, it’s a big statement for me and for my area that I represent. Many artists in the DMV area look up to me and things I’ve done so far. I still consider myself a fetus in this game, this is only my fourth album–so it’s a blessing to be independent, my own boss, and own my masters.”

“It’s a little scary, too,” DeVaughn admits with a laugh. “This is probably the most nervous I’ve ever been putting out an album. Not because of the quality of the album, but just [realizing] ‘Wow, if this does great, I’ll probably make more off of this album alone than I did on the three other albums that I put out.’”

Four albums in, Raheem DeVaughn has learned the ups and downs of the music business—so the business side of that equation has become something that he’s making sure he’s more involved in and aware of. And being an indie artist is exactly the right situation for him now. “There are no minuses going indie,” he says. “Other than the fact that people might go on about not having ‘The machine.’ But I never really had ‘The machine’ anyway. ‘The machine’ never understood what I am–the world understands what I am, music lovers understand what I am. It’s about having the power as an artist to do the same. In my opinion, indie is the new major. It’s a great situation for me.”

And that indie spirit is making for some inspired creativity. DeVaughn says that A Placed Called Love Land is a throwback—both to his own early work and the sound that influenced him as a youngster.

“This album is consistent with what I put out in the past, it reminds me of my first album a lot, in terms of how it’s put together,” he says. “Not a lot of features, great quality of songs–it has a 90s retro feel. I think [that] was a great time for R&B and for me growing up, there was a particular sound for R&B, [with] artists like Boyz II Men and Jodeci and songwriters like Babyface.”

“I feel like a lot of artists do features in the hopes that whoever is hot right now, if [they] can get them on a song that will make [them] hot, too. It’s okay and sometimes that’s true, but I don’t do features based upon an album sales,” DeVaughn shares. “If I work with somebody, it’s about creatively making something that’s super dope and something that people will go out and support.”

Catch Raheem DeVaughn on Saturday, August 24th at the Chicago Westside Music Festival in Douglas Park. Admission is free. More information is available at

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