'I don't write anything down,' Love says.
By Shaheem Reid
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, native Rico Love came full circle when he got a chance to work with Usher on the singer's Raymond v. Raymond LP — Rico was signed to Usher's US Records as a rapper around five years ago. While waiting to release his debut album, Rico showed Ush his other talent — penning R&B songs — which led to him writing one of the premier cuts on Confessions, "Throwback."
Rico started working on his own rap album with producers such as Cool & Dre before Usher pulled the plug.
"I was working on the record, and in the middle of the record Usher decided he wanted to take a step back from the label. He had a lot going on. We understood that. I was left on J Records and I decided I wasn't getting a lot of love in the building. I love J Records, but I don't think they was recognizing me. So I kind of moved out the building and moved out to L.A. and started focusing on the songwriting. You know me — I just hustled until I got out there and put my money where my mouth was."
Rico's songwriting breakthrough came in 2008 when he penned "Love Like This" for Natasha Bedingfield's Pocketful of Sunshine album. Through Bedingfield, Love connected with producer Jim Jonsin and moved to Miami. After changing managment, good things started to happen. He was soon working with Pleasure P on The Introduction of Marcus Cooper album and out of those sessions came the Grammy-nominated single "Boyfriend #2." Work for Jamie Foxx and Beyoncé also followed.
"Aw man, that was the experience of a lifetime working with one of the greatest vocalists of all time," Love said about B's "Sweet Dreams." "She came in and cut the song in a hour. She had to go. Jay-Z was opening up the tour with Mary J. Blige and B came in. She wasn't prepared to record, but heard the song and said, 'Let's do it.' It's actually my background vocals in the hook. She liked the way it sounded so we kept it."
But "Sweet Dreams" almost turned into a nightmare for Rico.
"It got leaked the day after we did the record," he said. Usually a leak that far in advance of an album release puts the song in serious jeopardy of being excluded from the final track list, but as Love said, "that song has nine lives."
"I was more concerned that she would feel that we did it," Rico said of the leak. "A lot of times producers or songwriters leak records because they feel if you put the song out there it would go. But it was frustrating. I felt like you work hard to get in the studio to work with Beyoncé. I was blessed and fortunate to have four songs on that album ... I wasn't that distraught. I have faith in God. The first song we did together was a song I did called 'Save the Hero.' I wrote 'Radio' and I co-wrote 'Scared and Lonely.' "
Last year, Love finally reconnected with Usher after being left off of 2008's Here I Stand. Love would eventually author the first single from Raymond v. Raymond, "Hey Daddy (Daddy's Home)," along with several other selections.
"I felt like I had to go out and prove myself to my big brother," Rico explained. "I had to go and do records for everybody — Jamie Foxx, Pleasure P, Mario, Fergie, Beyoncé. I had to get hit records on other people. [Usher] kinda recognized me and it was good for my ego. When he came back to me, it was the culmination, everything coming back together. This is the guy who put me on and gave me my spot. Besides God, I gotta give Usher the credit for putting me on. I did six records on this album, including 'Hey Daddy' and 'There Goes My Baby.'
"We was going back and forth," he added about the making of "Hey Daddy." "He was like, 'Come to Atlanta.' I was like, 'Come to Miami where I'm comfortable, so there ain't no excuses. I wanna work with my people, my producers. Come down to Miami.' He came to Miami and the first song he did was 'There Goes My Baby.' We did a few other records and then came 'Hey Daddy.' I wrote it in Miami, played it for him in Atlanta and we cut it in Vegas. That was the sleeper. It came out so crazy."
Rico's schedule is pretty full these days — he wrote part of "Hello Good Morning" for Diddy and has more songs on Last Train to Paris. He's also planning to work with Fantasia, Kelly Rowland, Nelly, hopefully Nicki Minaj and previous collaborators like Jamie Foxx, Fat Joe and Pleasure P.
"I usually come in the studio and hear the beat," Rico said of his songwriting process. "I don't write anything down. Even when I MC, I don't write any lyrics down. I go in the booth and sing the song how I think the artists should sound. It takes only like 10, 15 minutes, sometimes less than that. It's usually the first idea I have that comes out being the record. I don't try to over-think it. I feel music should be fun. It shouldn't be a math problem. You wanna make sure it's natural, organic."
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