Raheem DeVaughn - Love Behind the Melody

Posted January 16, 2008

We all know I write the best reviews on the planet (plus I’m humble), but as much work is put...

Love Behind the Melody Album Review

We all know I write the best reviews on the planet (plus I’m humble), but as much work is put into giving you a uniquely pleasurable reading experience, I read other reviews to. Some are terrible, some are decent, some are incredible, and some even manage to be all three depending on the sentence. So for today’s review, an eminently solid effort from up-and-coming crooner Raheem DeVaughn titled Love Behind the Melody, I thought I’d take a little tour round the web to see what my fellow critics are saying about Mr. DeVaughn. Won’t you join me?

“Raheem DeVaughn is arguably the most underrated R&B artist of his time”Mariel Concepcion for Billboard.com

Well, Mariel did write “arguably.” I wish I could agree or disagree, but unfortunately there’s nothing quite so vague as calling someone the “most underrated.” What does that even mean? Couldn’t a successful artist who doesn’t get the respect they deserve be underrated? Ludacris has so far been unjustly left off the greatest rappers alive list, does that make him underrated? And doesn’t an artist stop being underrated the moment Billboard calls him underrated? I have so many questions for Mariel, but let’s stick to the topic at hand, starting with Raheem’s breakout single Woman. Music’s power to uplift has been drowned out in the age of diamond covered booties, and Woman is a much needed reminder of the transforming power of a simple piano melody and heartfelt vocals. Raheem showcases his dynamic voice, sliding between a head-turning falsetto and earthy notes. There’s nothing quite like the love of a good woman, and I’ve got nothing but love for Woman, but it ultimately lacks that “make you want to cry out” element all great soul songs have. Most underrated R&B artist? What about John Legend, Chrisette Michele, Goapele? I’m sure we could all name at least ten more. Who’s the most underrated? Honestly I’m not sure, but for all his talent I don’t think it’s Raheem Devaughn.

“On Love Behind The Melody, Raheem bridges the gap between the older generation of R&B masters and his modern counterparts.”T Johnson for Walmart.com

You bring up a great point T; if can I call you T. Love Behind the Melody impressively spans the gap between the golden age of R&B and it’s predominately club-focused present, and never more clearly then on Friday (Shut the Club Down). Raheem impressively takes the classic soul-sample from My Girl and spins it with T-Pain references, some head-nodding percussion, and the promise to “party like a rockstar.” In fact the whole album sounds like it’s been put through the time-traveling ringer, from the 70’s Gerald Levert-inspired croonings of Love Drug to the R. Kelly-influenced sexual metaphors of Customer. Raheem’s clearly done his musical homework, though I think T and I can both agree that calling him “the hip-hop Marvin Gaye” is overly ambitious at best, and absolutely ridiculous at worst. You with me T?

“There are some clunkers (the more ostensibly soulful songs tend toward maudlin mush), but this is a major refinement from his debut.” - Sam Chennault for Rhapsody

First of all props to Sam for using the words “ostensibly” and “maudlin” in the same sentence, someone scored high on his SATs. Second, I can always count on Sam to cut to the chase, good looks. Love Behind the Melody certainly has no shortage of quality music, if all goes according to plan I’ll be getting down to the stellar Floetry assisted slow-jam Marathon later tonight, but there are enough forgettable moments over the course of seventeen tracks to drag down the average. I highly recommend Raheem stays away from the spoken-word experimentation the future, Woman I Desire featuring Malik Yusef could have used some serious editorial help, and the piano-heavy ballad Can We Try Again squeezes nearly every lyrical cliché in the book into one track. Throughout Love Behind the Melody it’s clear Raheem is on the verge of something great, he’s just not quite there yet. As Sam said this is a noticeable improvement from his debut, so with that kind of trajectory Raheem’s next album is due to be something truly memorable. And when he does drop that classic album a whole army of writers will be there to chronicle and analyze every musical step. God bless ‘us, every one. Lord knows we could use the help.

DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins

Written by
Posted January 16, 2008
Get The PLUG app by DJBooth and get the best hip-hop writing and news delivered daily.

Sample Text - Sample Link

More Hip Hop News

Best of DJBooth