Critics have compared Raheem DeVaughn's voice to Marvin Gaye's, and the parallels become even sharper upon closer inspection. His new album, a two-disc compilation called Love and War MasterPeace, deals with themes of inner-city violence, war, unemployment and love.
"I feel like we're all in a place internally where we're trying to master our own peace," DeVaughn says. "I just wanted to make a record that captured the moments."
Though R&B has typically been associated with themes of love and romance, DeVaughn's record tackles politics, too.
"No matter what road I take, I can never get too far away from the conscious lyric and the socially conscious content," he says. "I feel like as artists and producers, bottom line, we make message music, and you have to determine what your message is going to be."
Between every few tracks, DeVaughn has included a spoken-word interlude by Princeton professor Cornel West. Many of the passages convey messages of social justice.
A Theme Of Love
The album isn't all politics; love is also at its center. For example, "Superhero" pays homage to DeVaughn's mother, whose record collection inspired the singer's passion for music. He says it was a Mother's Day gift.
"Being an only child is challenging sometimes for our relationship," he says. "It was good for me to be able to play that song. It's definitely strengthened our relationship with one another."
Like many R&B albums, the theme of love is central to Love and War MasterPeace. DeVaughn has become something of a sex symbol in his rise to fame.
"I feel like putting out music like this, I have a responsibility, and that is to do it tastefully," he says. "Once again, it's not to just make music, but to make tasteful music; timeless music."