Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 2:30PM
Raheem DeVaughn - The Love & War MasterPeace [Album Review]
Written by Imran Mirza
Raheem DeVaughn's third album on Jive Records, ‘The Love & War MasterPeace’, and I have already got off on a bad foot. No sooner did I purchase the 16-track 1 disc album do I hear that there's a 2 disc deluxe version available with an additional 10 songs, making the £9.99 I've spent, a bit of a waste as, being the obsessive music fan that I am, I'll need to get my hands on the other version now instead. If anyone I know who's reading this happened to get a 1 disc version of this album as a birthday present, you must have the complete faith that it was purchased especially for you and was not a hand-me-down. (Please believe me as it will help to ease my guilt.)
I consider myself quite a champion of DeVaughn’s music – notwithstanding the excellent caliber of it, I always find myself impressed by the man’s work ethic more than anything else – releasing a steady slew of albums since 2005’s ‘The Love Experience’, as well as mixtapes and an immeasurable amount of guest appearances ranging from Kev Brown, Jazzy Jeff, Talib Kweli, Guru, Ghostface Killah, among countless others, you really get the sense that this is a hungry young artist who’s in it for the long haul.
The two titular themes covered on this album are fairly apt ones for DeVaughn to tackle as they've been his most prominent topics since he came to public attention in 2002, guesting on Jazzy Jeff's ‘The Magnificent’ album on the tracks 'Love Saviour' and the socially conscious 'My Peoples'. Of the two though, it's the 'war' inspired songs that really shine here – ‘Bulletproof’ (featuring a strong Ludacris cameo) and ‘Revelations 2010’ are worthy opening and closing numbers respectively, but it's the all-star lineup of 'Nobody Wins A War' that really steals the show. Boasting a guest list consisting of Anthony Hamilton, Bilal, Jill Scott, Ledisi, Chrisette Michele, Dwele, Chico Debarge (among others), the neo-soulers deliver an incredible 7+ minute anthem, capped off with Jill Scott’s spoken word closer as the icing on the cake.
The bulk of the album’s production is handled by longtime collaborator Kenny Dope, who does a worthy job, but the head-scratching absense of Jack Splash, following their incredible pairing from DeVaughn's previous LP, 'Love Behind The Melody' with the classic 'Mo Better' is... well, head scratching.
Unfortunately there are negatives to this release – for an album dubbed ‘The Love & War MasterPeace’, certain inclusions that would fall under the category of 'love' just seem cringey – while songs like 'My Wife' and 'I Don’t Care' hit the mark, having a song where you boast about your sexual prowess over that of a 'battery operated boyfriend' (B.O.B.) is a little ridiculous, and 'Microphone' … well I’ll leave the topic of that number to your imagination.
Also, Dr Cornel West's repeated appearances, perhaps working well as an album opener, seem somewhat unwarranted as he uses his 3 skits to simply profess about how good the music you're already listening to really is.
Overall, it’s certainly another worthy contribution to DeVaughn’s ever-growing catalogue, but I don’t think we were given the ‘masterpiece’ that the album may have intended to be.