“If you want to make God laugh, then tell Him your plans,” says Rico Love when asked about his new found success as a one to watch, chart-burning new artist. Garnering his success originally as a songwriter-producer noted for penning mammoth sized hit singles for the likes of Usher ( “There Goes My Baby” ), Kelly Rowland ( “Motivation” ), and Beyoncé ( “Sweet Dreams” ); Love’s Midas touch has resulted in Gold and Platinum hits for a bevy of artists over the course of his career. He is now enjoying his own shine on the other side with his breakout hit single “They Don’t Know” from his EP, Discrete Luxury.
Four years ago Amalgamation Magazine conversed with Love who adamantly declared his lack of interest in being in the limelight. Fast forward to 2014, we’ve had the pleasure for another up-close and personal conversation with Mr. “Turn the Lights On” to find out about his change of heart of coming from behind the boards and onto center stage and the catalyst for such a bold transition.
In 2010, you stated that your dream was to become a name and face in music and being behind the scenes was bigger than being a recording artist. What changed for Rico Love the producer that allowed Rico Love the artist to emerge?
RICO: I thought the detour I took was what God wanted for me (as a writer-producer). I had no clue at the time that I was being set up for this moment in time. After penning “Heart Attack” for Trey Songz, “4 a.m.” for Melanie Fiona, and “Mr. Wrong” for Mary J. Blige, that was the turning point for me as those records actually reflected what I was going through personally. It was also at this point in my career that Interscope Records’ Jimmy Iovine approached me regarding my interest in releasing my own music.
Is there any hidden meaning behind your EP’s title, Discrete Luxury? It is some sort of mysterious euphemism.
RICO: It’s not to be mistaken for “discreet.” Discrete’s meaning is to be set apart and it represents in most cases people that have earned a position of status. For me personally it rep- resents the diligent effort I’ve put into my career and where that work has placed me in this moment. “Discrete Luxury” symbolizes the king’s perspective from the palace and how people respond to me from where and who I am now.
With remixes of your hit single “They Don’t Know” hitting the airwaves and clubs, what was the motivation behind a dance remix featuring Pitbull? Was that an attempt to crossover to a larger audience?
RICO: No, not at all. “They Don’t Know” already crossed over. Pit- bull and I have been longtime friends and he loved the record and wanted to be a part of it. I make music for all people. I make music for my people from an urban standpoint. It just happens to transcend. I wanted a dance remix that flowed with Pitbull’s flavor and serve it up as a treat to our fans. I pride myself in being consistent in my delivery of touching people with my music.
Your follow up single, “Bitches Be Like” is definitely catchy and tongue in cheek. Can that song be filed in the same library as Nicki Minaj’s “Looking Ass Nigga” and Chris Brown’s “Loyal”?
RICO: I’d have to say that Nicki and Chris’ singles are more playful and ode to battle of the sexes. “Bitches Be Like” was my outlet to call out women whose perspective in life is out of sync—in a similar vein of Tupac’s song “You Wonder Why They Call You a Bitch.” I feel it’s my obligation not only to entertain but to allow listeners to think critically through introspect. And if it ruffles a few feathers then I’ve done my job.
To promote your Discrete Luxury you are on tour this summer with Future along with “OG Bobby Johnson” rapper Que. You got your live performance chops earlier on in your career working with Usher (“The Truth Tour” – 2004). Where do you draw energy from and how have you prepared for this?
RICO: The show (concert) is the point where you know as an artist that your music matters. We count on the success of our music at radio but that is just the beginning of the journey. As an artist it’s our job to articulate through music what people want to say but can’t. I was brought up under the tutelage of Usher and Puff so my live music set is live and full of energy. I perform, you won’t just see a nigga just walking back and forth holding his dick on stage.
You’ve worked with some of the biggest names in Urban and Pop music. From a songwriter’s perspective where do you draw inspiration from? Do you craft songs with particular artists in mind?
RICO: I write songs every day when I am not on the road. The goal for me is to always create a great song, that’s always my motivation; I create music that people can relate to. I won’t limit myself by what I think an artist will or won’t sing. I don’t think any of us knew that Beyoncé would sing a song like “Partition.” It’s different from what we’re used to from her but it works.
Who are your top three artists that you haven’t worked with that you want to get in the studio with?
RICO: Most definitely I’d love to work with Rufus Wainwright; Kanye West, who I think is a genius, and a mad scientist who I had the pleasure to work with and be around during my earlier time with Usher on “The Truth Tour” back in 2004. And, I’d like to work with R.E.M’s lead man Michael Stipe.
Aside from your work as a new artist, songwriter-producer, you are also making time as a record label executive with your own label, Division 1. Do you have a hand in developing and crafting the sounds of your artists?
RICO: I give my artist the creative freedom to do their own thing but I am definitely hands on in the process of molding and developing my artists as the CEO of the label.
You’re affiliated with Interscope Records and SESAC. How would you describe those professional relationships and what made you choose to do business with those two notable music brands?
RICO: Interscope believed in my vision from day one and I absolutely love the radio department; they are awesome. SESAC always paid attention to me and believed in me from day one. I owe that in part to former SESAC executive Capp Scates. He believed in me when I had nothing and saw my potential.
Back in 2010 you told us here at Amalgamation that Usher’s “There Goes My Baby,” a song you penned, was your favorite song. What are your current favorites?
RICO: Since then my favorite tracks that I’ve penned are “Dive” for Usher and “There Is No Such Thing as Too Late” for Brandy. These songs weren’t break out hits like some others I’ve done but they are my favorites and I consider them some of my best work.
We’re featuring you on the cover of Amalgamation; your management advised me that you selected the image for use. They say a picture is worth 1,000 words. In one word, what’s up with the tongue?
RICO: Fun! A lot of my material is edgy and aggressive I wanted to show my playful side. I just enjoy having fun!
Expanding his brand, Love is still developing his Love Foundation clothing line in between his work as an artist, songwriter-producer, and record label executive. “I am focused on music but I love fashion,” says Love who credits his success to his own simple philosophy, “I don’t ever want to be the smartest person in the room, and I want to connect myself to like-minded people that will help me grow. Iron sharpens Iron,” he adds.
His album Discrete Luxury is in stores and available online, visit www.RicoLove.com for news and tour dates for Love on Future’s North American “Honest” Tour.
Interview Conducted by Justin O. Cooper