Raheem Devaughn: Fighting for Freedom

Raheem Devaughn goes by many monikers–the R&B hippie neo-soul rock star, Radio Raheem, or the 368 Hustler for instance–but lately he’s added a new handle to the assortment: Freedom Fighter. Lost behind Dr. Cornel West’s arrest on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court was the fact that Raheem Devaughn was also a participant in that protest and arrested as well. Born from that experience and an ever-evolving worldview came his latest mixtape, Freedom Fighter, what he calls the soundtrack to the “Occupy” movement. I recently had the opportunity to discuss with him the mixtape, the arrest, the 99%, the 386 Music Group, “The Raheem Devaughn Radio Show” and A Place Called Love Land.

Soul Train: How did you get involved with Cornel West’s protest at the Supreme Court?
Raheem Devaughn: I flew into D.C. from Chicago on the day of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial dedication, and Dr. Cornel West wanted to meet with me. So we broke bread down at Freedom Plaza along with Bootsy Collins. When Dr. West opened the floor for questions, he was asked what he believed the best way to honor Dr. King was and his response was, “By going to jail.” That immediately got everyone charged up. Bootsy had to fly out to LA to shoot a commercial and I had the opportunity to leave too, but it didn’t feel right in my spirit to do so. I’ve always wanted to be a part of a march and part of a movement, so it was very humbling and surreal to be part of that experience. Needless to say, I spent the night in jail. Most of my time was spent with Dr. West, one-on-one, it was a blessed experience to be able to kick it with him and get that knowledge and that wisdom.

Soul Train: What inspired you to take your role musically and release the Freedom Fighter mixtape?
RD: I’ve been on this mission for some time; I’ve always had a soundtrack for the movement. It was the perfect time to drop the mixtape, with the climate around the country and around the world, with the “Occupy” movements and the 99%. It’s something that people can listen to while they’re occupying the various cities and charged up about making a difference. It brings awareness to different issues. I talk about homelessness, supporting the soldiers, my views on the war, and it’s a great way to support a movement that I’ve been behind for a long time. It’s one thing to say you’re about something, but never follow through with it.

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