Singer, songwriter, and record producer Rico Love stopped by Global Grind recently to chat about his new baby, Rico Love Presents. If you’re not up on your current music history, Rico is the man behind a slew of your favorite songs, including “Sweet Dreams” by Beyonce, “There Goes My Baby” by Usher, Kelly Rowland’s “Motivation,” Melanie Fiona’s “4 AM,”—the list seriously goes on and on.
Throughout his career, Rico has been the machine that spits out hit records for the most known names in the industry, but now, thanks to his latest venture Rico Love Presents, aspiring artists will also have the opportunity to work with him. In our interview, he talks fulfilling his dream of breaking new acts, writing for our favorite celebrities, the connection between being emotionally secure and being a great songwriter, choosing the artists he’d like to work with, and more. Tune in!
On The Difference Between Writing For Established Acts & Working W/ Aspiring Artists
“It’s a lot more difficult to break a new artist than it is to reaffirm, if you will, an established brand,” Rico begins. “All the established brand needs is the record to reignite because they have the stage. As soon as Kelly Rowland, Nelly, Puffy, Usher, or Trey Songs puts out a record, they’re going to have millions of people who are at least going to give it a listen. It’s their job to make sure the record their [fans] are listening to is incredible. Making an incredible song is not difficult for me—creating awareness for an act that would be otherwise unknown, that’s the difficult part. With a new artist you have to figure out how to spark the conversation and direct the attention their way. That’s the part that takes time. So, the challenge now with what I’m doing with Rico Love Presents…it’s an opportunity for me to do what I’ve never done before. I’ve never been able to break an act and that’s always been my goal.”
On Being Able To Tap Into Different Energies & Write For Both Men & Women
“I think I read people very well and I’m an excellent observer. I watch people and I pay attention to the the things they do. I’m paying attention to things you’re doing and saying, your mannerisms without even consciously knowing I am. I’m not saying to myself ‘Let me zero in.’ I’m picking up on things, so that when I’m writing a record I can say to myself ‘This girl would like this part. This type of guy would chant this part of this record. Emotionally, this connects to this type of person.’ I just pay attention to the way people feel about the smallest thing—about missing a flight. I’m watching what I could say to trigger something in them and that’s just me…analyzing all things.”
Rico goes on to explain that people are complex and songwriters have to be able to tap into that. “We are all things in one; we are angry, we are happy, we are excited, we’re frustrated, we’re in the mood, we’re not in the mood. I watched an interview that T.I. did on The Breakfast Club a few years ago and they said ‘Are you an activist or are you a gangster?’ and he said ‘I’m both…when I see injustice I’ma speak up and if somebody tries to rob me, Ima shoot them.’
He adds that you have to be secure in who you are as a man to write from different perspectives, explaining “Emotionally, I’m comfortable with myself. I don’t even like to say ‘my feminine side,’ I don’t believe there is a feminine side; I think the most masculine thing a man can be is vulnerable. It’s the strongest thing you can be because you’re comfortable enough in yourself to say ‘I’m sad today and I don’t mind sharing that.’ When you think about a group like D4L with Shawty Lo and all them guys right? Those guys were real gangsters and they made ‘Laffy Taffy.’ You know why Shawty Lo didn’t have a problem making ‘Laffy Taffy?’ Because he was a real gangster and it’s like ‘What are you gonna do?…I put this record out, but please try it and see what it is.’ Whereas other artists had to put up this facade of being super tough and couldn’t [put out music] that didn’t [represent that tough guy image]. ”
On How He Chooses Who To Take Seriously For Rico Love Presents
“It’s gotta be something that I see in them artistically. There has to be an incredible amount of talent. No gimmicks. It’s not because I see this person and they got a bunch of followers. I really would prefer somebody who doesn’t have any followers. There’s an artist by the name of Inayah Lamis and I just signed her. When I posted her on my Instagram, she had 3,900 followers. That was 2 weeks ago. She has 180,000 now.”
Rico explains that today his approach of actually developing an act from the ground up is unheard of. “Record companies today do not have the ability anymore to see greatness and sign anything purely off its greatness. Artists have to have a backstory: she has this many followers, she has 10 million Youtube subscribers, she did this song with this person…there are no longer A&Rs. No, they find something that’s working, give it some money, and hope it works again…that’s the concept behind what record companies are doing now. What Rico Love Presents says is this: I don’t care if you don’t have a following, I see the talent and I’m going to give you a platform so more of the world can see you. Building and developing acts purely off talent and off great records and incredible attention to detail.
On Meeting His New Artist TXS
“I just told her ‘I think you’re super talented. I would love to work with you. Do you have any representation?’ She said ‘No, I don’t.’ This was on a Friday. On Monday, I called her and said ‘Can you get on a flight at 4 p.m. today?’ She said ‘Yes’ and she came down and we started cutting records. I ended up naming her TXS because I felt like I wanted her to represent the whole state. I wrote the album, Everything Is Bigger. With ‘Do Good’ I wrote the song and it took me 7 or 8 months to get it right…Danger actually produced the music to it after I cut the record and when I was happy with it, I said ‘I think this is the energy that we should have to represent the entire body of work.’ I wrote the treatment to the video, I came up with all the concepts, and everything behind it and that’s what gave me the idea for Rico Love Presents. So I know, I’m saying ‘I did this and I did that’… it’s not for me to say I’m the one who did everything—the concept behind Rico Love Presents is my perception and my vision of who you are. You have an idea of who you are artistically and I respect that but on this body of work, I’m choosing the hair, I’m choosing the makeup, I’m choosing who’s going to do the photoshoot, I’m choosing the video director, I’m writing the song, I’m producing the songs, I’m coming up with the sequence and you have the opportunity of being introduced to the world through this platform, which is basically my baby. My dream has always been Executive Producer and I’ve felt like I’ve already executive produced projects, but didn’t get the credit for them. I wanted the opportunity to do that and I did that for TXS. Then I say to her, ‘Ok cool, now if your vision is something else you can live that vision.’ No one’s going to hold you back. Rico Love Presents is really like a playlist, except that I’m not just curating it. All you have to do is show up and be great and we’ll discuss who you are. It’s going to be something we all agree on.”
On His Favorite Songwriters
“Ne-Yo. As far as current guys, Ne-Yo is my favorite. Legendary or greatest of all time, I think Ne-Yo will be in that conversation, but Rufus Wainright is an incredible songwriter, Leonard Cohen, Harry Nilsson, Diane Warren, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, Quincy Jones is an incredible songwriter, Isaac Hayes…there’s just so many.”
Hit the flip to watch TXS in her new music video for “Do Good” and stay tuned for the next installment of Rico Love Presents. Per usual, Rico has some sh*t! up his sleeve.
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