Rico Love may not be the first name that you think of when you list your favorite music artist, but I promise you, you are fan and you know his work. In the music industry, it seems that the man behind the curtain is in fact Rico Preston Butler, Jr. or more commonly known as Rico Love. Love is an American singer-songwriter, producer, and rapper who has written hit songs and produced popular records for big names like Usher, Beyoncé, Nelly, and Fergie just to name a few. Nelly’s “Just a Dream” – he had a hand in that. “Sweet Dreams” by Beyoncé – he was part of that too. Love is everywhere in the music industry these days, but most of his work happens behind the scenes. Love was exposed to the art of writing at a young age when his mother encouraged him to write poetry. He later discovered performing when he joined a children’s theater group where he performed and acted. As he grew into his gifts, he went to college at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee to actively pursue his career in music. And while in college, every weekend Love used to take the greyhound bus to Atlanta, in an effort to network and advance his music career. But it took some unfortunate issues with financial aid to finally get him his big break.
When he left college because of financial issues, he moved to Atlanta to continue pursuing his career as a rap artist. He was living with some producers and had an opportunity to rap for Usher, who liked his sound and signed him to his label, US Records, a subsidiary of J Records. On his facebook page, Love talks about how everything fell into place for him. “You have to understand that God is positioning you to be in the right place… Every Saturday I would get on a bus and I would go to Atlanta from Tallahassee. Every Sunday night I would get back on a bus and I would go back to school and I would do my schoolwork. This opportunity that Jonathan and Edward gave to us happened on a Tuesday. Every week I would have been back at school. I would not have been there for that opportunity…”
After that opportunity, Love’s career took off. He has worked with some of the hottest names in R&B and hip hop, so it’s obvious that his music is hot commodity and after perusing his social media and songs available online, I have to say that what makes Love so special is how real and transparent he is. This realness transfers to his music and it makes he and listeners sit on the same level.
Love is always posting videos that allows people a chance to really get to know him beyond the music. He posts about how proud he is of his work, how much he loves his dog, and his opinions on everything from yoga pants to parenting techniques. His lively personality and his drive, passion, and incredible work ethic all become very clear after seeing his posts and he becomes so much more accessible and relatable as an artist.
His lyrics come from an emotional place and they talk about themes people either can relate to or want to know more about. In an interview with an urban entertainment magazine, called Parle Love explains, “My music is valid because I live the life you live… I want to affect the culture… I’m trying to educate without preaching. I really wanna say something even if it ruffles some feathers. That’s legendary.”
On that same note, the website Complex Music lists a quote from the producer, “I wanted to make sure everything was real and true to me. I didn’t want to make any matter of fact songs, like, OK well let’s talk about top and bottoms or let’s talk about this. Nah, I want it to be true to me in some way or another. And to make it interesting. To make sure I set myself apart from all artists…”
His project “Discrete Luxury,” definitely stays true to his desire of making music meaningful and true. Love commented on how there was theme of heartache to the songs he had written for it because he was going through a tough time after breaking up with the mother of his son. Even his song “Champagne” comes from a truth. He uses the song to make fun of himself and the situations drinking champagne has gotten him into.
Staying true to his musical ambitions, Love’s recent project “Turn the Lights On,” is all about revealing truths. Recently, Love responded to some criticism about the nudity on the album cover. “The album is called turn the lights on. Everything that is revealed in the darkness comes to light when the lights are on, obviously. It [nudity] permits and features full exposure. There is a deeper meaning behind it… Permitting or featuring full exposure that’s the definition of nudity. And what I wanted to do is I wanted to give full exposure and full access with this particular relationship that I’m explaining and I’m describing with this album…”
Love is revealing truths with this album despite whether or not they cause controversy and he is using it to show real situations that people have to deal with. Songs like “The Affair” and “For the Kids,” are great examples. The themes have a deeper meaning and relate to a wider audience. Whether behind the scenes or behind the mic, I’m sure Rico Love will continue to write about real life and stay true to himself.
– Shannan Rivera