Raheem DeVaughn may be a newly minted Grammy Award nominee, but he still considers himself an underdog. “I enjoy being slept on,” he says during a recent soundcheck break in his native Washington, D.C. “It’s like being on the verge of a cult movement. But making the underground-to-aboveground transition is cool. The best thing I can do is stay on the road and build a grass-roots following. I’m constantly about building my brand.”
That perseverance underscores DeVaughn’s Grammy nod for best male R&B vocal performance for “Woman.” It’s the lead single from his second Jive album, “Love Behind the Melody,” due this week.
Relationship themes, substantive lyrical messages and strong melodies remain DeVaughn’s forte. That’s evident on “Woman,” produced by Chucky Thompson. Additional tracks, like heat-seeking ballad “Mo Better” (produced by newcomer Jack Splash) and the atmospheric “Marathon” featuring Floetry, call to mind another soulful D.C. native, Marvin Gaye.
“This album definitely shows more of my R&B side as well as my growth as an artist, writer and producer,” says DeVaughn, who calls himself an “R&B hippie” for fusing a rock, guitar-driven vibe with his old-school leanings.