Every year the critics are ready to proclaim the death of soul music, moaning to one another about the days when Curtis Mayfield and Barry White once walked the earth like musical giants. Sometimes they sleep when something fresh does come along, but Raheem DeVaughn was determined from the beginning to be the best.

Introduced to a wider audience in 2005 with the release of his debut disc “The Love Experience,” DeVaughn strived to create the perfect hybrid of old school grooves and new school attitude. The album spawned the hit single, “You.” His sophomore effort, “Love Behind The Melody,” featured “Woman,” and with that record he hoped to rid himself of his “underdog” title.

Now, with the release of his third studio album, a two-disc set, we think it’s safe to say he’s achieved his goal.

Tell us about your latest single, “I Don’t Care.”

The label had to pull my teeth to record that. I said, “I’ll meet you halfway, ya’ll dont ask me much, ya’ll usually let me be the mad scientist.” This record fell in my lap so, I thought, maybe it’s a gift from the creators. As I started recording, I was like, “Hey, this isn’t so bad. I like this. Ohhh! This is hot!” It’s the only record that I didn’t write on the album, but it’s in great company. Ne-yo wrote it. So, from one songwriter to another, I think he’s dope, and I hope I get to return the favor.

Describe the new album.

It’s a double album called the “Love and War MasterPeace” – it’s half socially-conscious, half love. Some of the socially-conscious ones are “Bulletproof,” and “Revelations 2010” with Damien Marley. I wanted to take the opportunity to work with people that I look up to or am genuinely fans of. And I’ve been working on this album since the last one, so it’s not just that I have a lot to say, but I think there’s a lot that needs to be heard.

“Nobody Wins The War” is such a standout track. It features Jill Scott, Bilal, Anthony Hamilton, Algebra, Chrisette Michele, Shelby Johnson, Ledisi, Citizen Cope, Dwele, Chico DeBarge And Rudy Currence. How did it come about?

I tracked them down. Last tour Jill did, she took me out with her. Last tour I headlined, I took Christette out. Anthony, Bilal and Shelby all used to sing background for D’Angelo. Dwele and I have been friends for years. And I also have some artists that don’t necessarily get the shine they deserve.

Did you feel that taking a stand on the war would alienate some of your fans?

No. At the end of the day, I’m making a true statement. Nobody wins the war. Who really wins? I’m not picking a side, a country, a religion, I’m saying there always could be a solution if people are willing to compromise. A life is gonna be lost, blood is gonna be on somebody’s hands, but it’s a catch-22 because if somebody comes kicking your door in and invades your home, you might have to put them on their head. In that case, the violence is necessary.

What’s your first musical memory?

Being at Greenhill Daycare in Maryland at the graduation, directing the choir. I was the conductor, the musical leader.

What’s your favorite love song? (And you can’t choose your own)

Let’s go with Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You.”

What do you look for in a woman?

I look for confidence, spirituality, independence, adventure, spontaneity…

Do you have a celebrity crush?

I got a couple! You know who’s a sweetheart? I got a crush on Erykah Badu, but don’t tell anybody. And I think Miss Keri is cute. And I wasn’t prepared for Alicia Keys at the Apollo or the energy and the chemistry we had, but I’ll be prepared next time though. She kinda caught me off my square.

Tell us something we don’t know.

I love kids. I have two sons, 2 and 4. If I could, in a perfect world, I’d have a tribe, but at this point, I cant keep having like a bunch of baby mamas [laughs]. My mom ain’t having that,¬†that just don’t sit well with her, so I gotta find a woman that can tolerate me and have a gang of babies.

How do you maintain a relationship with your young children while working?

I don’t always get the time that I want with them and I’m sacrificing a lot to make sure things are secure in their future. Their mothers are very overly supportive and understanding. I couldn’t be blessed with a better situation. They’re mature and don’t add to the stress. I hope this leads as an example to cats: Don’t buy into the hype of the baby mama/daddy drama. Don’t perpetuate it and buy into the propaganda. It’s bulls***. Don’t let no judge decide your fate, because once you in that system, you in that system. Granted, if you’re not handling your responsibilities, man up.

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