Longtime fans have watched Rah grow from the skinny, wide-eyed boy with the big eyes and bigger voice on the classic children’s show “Kids Incorporated” to one of the most influential yet underrated soul men on the planet.
(His career is riddled with paradox and irony.) We’ve watched him sport blonde-streaked hair and cutting edge fashions while strolling through European-set music videos, and then hung on to his every note in clubs and concert halls around the globe as he, shorn of hair and clad in the simplest of gear, bled out in song—joy, pain, longing, despair, ecstasy.
After a moment, we pick up the conversational thread from where we were interrupted.
“The difference now,” he replies thoughtfully, “is that I’m aware that I have a gift, [and] that is serving others beyond applause.
We’d been too deeply immersed in the conversational stream.
So when the scruffily bearded, unkempt, elderly homeless guy sharply jutted in from the side, leaning over our table to look Rahsaan square in the eyes, we were both startled.“You have a good soul,” repeated the man, touching Rah on the shoulder for emphasis before ambling off to ask other customers for change.“Thank you,” Rahsaan called after him, smiling. If it were a scene in a film, it would be corny and heavy-handed, forcing emphasis on the themes and topics we’ve mulled over during our nearly two-hour dialogue: the intertwined paths of spiritual growth and career trajectory; that indescribable, better-than-any-drug high of channeling creative energy and erasing the barriers between you and whatever deity you worship; pushing past one’s own deeply ingrained issues to forge healthy relationships; coming to terms with a loved one’s death through one’s own creative expression…and, of course, music, music and more music.
The Purple One’s name has become shorthand and lazy reference point for music writers. But something of bleuphoria’s tremulous sensuality, vulnerability and spirituality, its earthy religiosity and unbridled playfulness, is an unforced and welcome throwback to the days when Prince towered over the world.
Rahsaan pauses before replying.“As an artist,” he says thoughtfully, “you know that influence and inspiration come from any and everything. Of course, when you talk about artists of that caliber, you listen and you learn.
As a child, I knew I had talent and I could see how it affected people. As I’ve gotten older, I realize that it sustains my life and I’m okay with the power of that.
There was a long period where, even as a child, I would keep myself from believing that it’s as magnificent as it is.
Greatly influenced by Stevie Wonder's recordings of the 1970s, young Rahsaan Patterson showed much promise on his self-titled debut album of 1997.