Behind the Beats: Rico Love
If more people read the credits behind some of R&B's biggest hits, Rico Love should be a household name. Born Richard Preston Butler Jr., the former Florida A&M University student is now one of the music industry's most-sought-after singer/songwriters.
After writing hits for Usher ("There Goes My Baby"), Beyoncé ("Sweet Dreams") and Diddy-Dirty Money ("Hello Good Morning"), to name a few, one of Rico's biggest hits to date is Kelly Rowland's "Motivation."
"It came about in a truly organic way," Rico told Mixtape Daily of the Jim Jonsin-produced "Motivation." "We had this meeting in New York: myself and Sylvia [Rhone] and Kelly. And they just were saying, 'We need to find that single; we need that big single.' Everybody was asking for an uptempo, actually.
"I flew down to Miami the next day, and that Tuesday, we got back in the studio, and Jim started playing these chords, and then coming up with these little sounds — the signature sounds that Jim comes up with. I just told him to lay it like a skeleton idea, and I jumped in the booth, and I started with the verse, and I kind of sang my way all the way through the record."
Rowland, formerly of Destiny's Child, was in the studio while Rico was laying down the reference track and made her regard for the song known immediately. "Kelly was there and watched the whole process," Rico recalled. "As soon as I finished singing the demo, usually an artist wants to live with it or listen to it for a little while. She just said, 'I want to cut it right now.' So she jumped in the booth, and we cut the record."
"Motivation" became the lead single for Rowland's third album, Here I Am, which was released in April. The song, which peaked at #1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, features a verse from Lil Wayne.
"Lil Wayne got out of jail a few days later, and as soon as he got out of jail, [Rowland] went to see him, and he jumped on it," Rico explained. "It was the most organized situation ever. It was nothing contrived about it."
There's been nothing manufactured about Rico's accomplishments either. Starting his musical career as a rapper, he has signed former Roc-a-Fella rapper Young Chris to his Universal/Motown-distributed Division 1 label.
After leaving Florida A&M to pursue music, Rico caught the attention of Usher, and penned songs for the R&B singer, including "Throwback." Other artists soon benefitted from his songwriting, including T.I., Pleasure P and Mario. Rico takes pride in being versatile with his talents, preferring not to make specific songs intended for specific artists only.
"Sometimes, when you keep an artist in mind, you'll limit yourself," Rico explained. "You won't go a place that they probably would go because you're thinking, "Nah, she wouldn't say this," or "He wouldn't do this," or "He wouldn't say this," and "This melody is out of the way for them."
"When I get a chance to just get into the studio and just write music and just produce music and sit at the piano and tell a guy where I want to hear the chords and create the progressions and just freely make music, it's a lot more fun."
Lately, Rico has been back in the studio with Usher. In 2007, he was signed to the singer's former US Records via J Records. But his debut album was never released, and he and Usher went their separate ways.
But as Rico become a songwriting force, the two eventually started working together again. The first song they recorded was the Grammy-winning "There Goes My Baby" from 2010's Raymond v. Raymond. Now, Rico is working on Usher's forthcoming album and embracing the pressure of surpassing its predecessor's platinum sales and critical success.
"I feel like this is what separates the boys from the men," Rico said of working with Usher. "This week, we been creating records together. We had two mics, two headphones set up in the booth, and we just sit there and vibe out.
"These first few days have been amazing. We got four records cut so far that sound super amazing. I'm super excited about it. I'm just anxious for the world to hear it."
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