YouKnowIGotSoul had the opportunity to talk with Rico Love to discuss everything from the transition from being an artist to strictly a writer, the process he goes through in writing a song, what artists he will be working with in the near future, and what the catch phrase “Turn The Lights On” means to him.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I’ve read in your bio that the first song you actually wrote was Usher’s “Throwback,” which is a song I really like by the way. But I wanted to point out the first time I was really introduced to you was on a bonus track off Donell Jones’ album called “Baby It’s You.” Tell me about this song and how this opportunity came about?
Rico Love: The President of black music at Jive Records, he was A&Ring the Donell Jones album and he invited me to come over and work on the record, and I came over. I think that’s the first song I did with Donell, the “Baby It’s You” record.
YKIGS: I read that you did some other songs with Donell, and one I had never heard called “Silly of Me.” Whatever happened with this song?
RL: Sometimes when you do records they don’t make the album, but hackers leak everything, so people start knowing about songs that aren’t supposed to be known about. This is a record I did with Donell early on and it didn’t make the album.
YKIGS: Eventually about a year or so later I heard a song by you called “Killa.” Where did this song end up?
RL: That was a song that leaked as well. It was a demo, it was just a song I wrote for a female artist, no one in particular, and then the hackers leaked it.
YKIGS: Well let me ask you then, it sounds like you aren’t too happy with hackers leaking your music. Tell me how you feel about that?
RL: Well obviously I’m not, it takes food out of my mouth. It takes money out of my pocket. I think people who hack music don’t really respect the art form and don’t really respect what we do. They feel like they can just take our music and just leak it out. I think it’s a game for them, it’s a joke, but you know it’s whatever, they don’t stop anything. Leaks are so common now that it doesn’t even affect music now.
YKIGS: Well if you could just explain to me for a song like “Killa,” if a song like that were to leak, could you no longer sell the song?
RL: I mean, the thing about “Killa” was I didn’t even like it. I did the record and I didn’t put too much thought into it. It was like three years ago, and after that record leaked…I mean, it’s sad that it leaked because you don’t want some work that you are not really proud of to get out there like that. But yea, If somebody wanted it, they could still have it, it isn’t like millions and millions of people know the record or anything or are familiar with it, so it wouldn’t really matter.
YKIGS: You were to release an album called “The 5th Element.” What was the reason this album never got released?
RL: I just stopped being an artist.
YKIGS: With that being said, do you still have future aspirations of doing a solo album?
RL: No, I don’t think I’m going to do a record. I’m just happy with being behind the scenes and being a business man and an entrepreneur and developing a record company and developing artists, things like that. I think that is my passion.
YKIGS: So how has the transition been from being an artist to being more behind the scenes as a writer?
RL: I think it’s that I’m comfortable doing this. I’m comfortable being a writer and behind the scenes, but I’m definitely about branding myself and getting people familiar with who I am. I just don’t want to do it in the form of being a recording artist. The thing about an artist is that sometimes an artist can only be hot as long as their record is hot. So I want to be in a position to control the music and not just be relevant when I have an album out, but be relevant 365, all year round.
YKIGS: How does it make you feel when you see an artist take a record you wrote and go on and have success with it?
RL: Oh it’s a great thing for me. It makes me feel good because that’s my job, that’s the whole point of what I do.
YKIGS: The reason I ask is because a lot of times, people might not even realize who’s behind the writing of the song. Does that ever bother you?
RL: No I mean, that’s why I get out here and let people know what it is, I expose myself, so it really doesn’t bother me. I mean sometimes artists will even tell people that they wrote a song that they didn’t write, but it doesn’t matter because I’m going to get my checks too and I get out here, and that’s why I have a publicists, and that’s why I do the interviews, and expose myself to the world.
YKIGS: Can you walk me through the creative process you go through when writing a song from start to finish?
RL: Usually I come in the studio and hear a beat, it’s not really a drawn out process, I just hear the music and the first thing that comes to my head, I just jump in the booth and say it. It’s really not even that complex, it’s real simple. I used to be a rapper, freestyling and coming off the top of the head, so that’s how most of my songs come about.
YKIGS: On average, how long would you say it takes each song to be completed?
RL: The idea, I mean the song in itself, the original, it takes 15 to 20 minutes. But just laying the demo and the backgrounds, it takes maybe about an hour and a half.
YKIGS: Can you tell me what is the most memorable collaboration you’ve had so far of a song you wrote and the artist who recorded it?
RL: So many man. I can give you an example of one. “There Goes My Baby,” I wrote it and Usher was late for the session, so instead of just waiting around or leaving, I just started to do a song and I literally wrote the song write before he walked in the door. So I finished it and he walked in the door, and it was a wrap.
YKIGS: Who is an artist that you haven’t had a chance to work with that you’d like to eventually get to work with?
RL: Brandy, I would love to work with Brandy.
YKIGS: I noticed you use the catch phrase “Turn the Lights On” in songs you write. What does this mean to you?
RL: I used to hang out in this club in L.A. called Area, and a friend of mine is one of the owners of the club. So every other night I used to go there, and they would play a song by Pink Floyd called “The Wall” and while they played the song, right before the climax of the record, all the lights would be off on the club, and then when they said “Hey teacher, leave those kids alone,” all the lights would come on. So in my mind I would say “turn the lights on.” So one day in the studio, I just started saying it on songs that I was doing.
YKIGS: If I could ask you about a couple of songs you did for Marques Houston, “All Because of You” and “I Wasn’t Ready,” I’m a big fan of those songs. What was it like working with him?
RL: Actually I just wrote those songs, I didn’t even get into the studio with him. I just wrote the song and somebody else recorded his vocals; that was very early on in my career.
YKIGS: Would you say that type of thing happens often, where you write a song and pass it on to an artist, or was that just early in your career?
RL: That was just early, now I produce all of the vocals and I’m there with the artist when they record the record. From anybody, from Beyonce to Usher to Mario, just anybody, Puffy, everybody.
YKIGS: Just tell me a little bit about projects you are currently working on and what you have lined up for the future?
RL: Finishing up Jamie Foxx’s album, Kelly Rowland, getting ready to roll that out. Pleasure P, I’m starting on him next week, and Mario, starting on his next record in a few weeks. I’m developing my record company Division One, and full steam ahead from this point.
YKIGS: Who are some other writers in r&b that you’d say you respect what they do?
RL: I really respect Ne-Yo, The Dream, a lot of other people. But I think those names really stand out.