Rico Love On Nelly Comeback: 'I'm Laughing In Their Faces Right Now'
One of the biggest music stories of 2010 has been the surprise return of pop rap superstar Nelly with his omnipresent radio hit “Just a Dream.” The St. Louis-born act, who last enjoyed Top 40 Billboard chart success with his 2004 double album Sweat and Suit, was essentially written off by critics following disappointing sales of 2008’s lackluster Brass Knuckles. It was a sizable fall from commercial grace for the melodic rapper whose albums (including his 2000 landmark debut Country Grammar and 2002’s Nellyville) and a string of hit singles (such as the no. 1 album title track “Country Grammar,” “Ride Wit Me,” “Hot in Herre,” the Kelly Rowland-featured “Dilemma,” and “Over and Over,” an unlikely duet with country music superstar Tim McGraw) have sold close to a combined 30 million copies.
For Rico Love, who co-wrote the Jim Jonsin produced “Just a Dream” with Frank Romano, being involved with the major comeback of Nelly has been a highlight of his thriving career. “It’s the most gratifying situation ever because everybody doubted Nelly,” says the writer/producer, who has hammered out hits for Beyonce (“Sweet Dreams”); Usher (“There Goes My Baby”); and Diddy’s Dirty Money (“Hello Good Morning”). “A lot of people in the business were telling me, ‘Yo, don’t waste your time…Nelly can’t come back…he’s over.’ So to see his success on such a large scale, this is amazing to me. I hate non-believers…I can’t deal with those kind of people. It’s almost as if I’m laughing in their faces right now.”
Love says the success of Nelly’s “Just a Dream” which will be featured on the rapper’s 5.0 album due out November 16, can be attributed to the natural progression of the track. “It happened organically,” the 27-year-old recalls of the making of the song. “Nelly and I set up a recording session and did a few joints. Jim Jonsin came in the studio and played this great track and Nelly started humming out a melody. I wrote down the concepts for the verse and came up with the line ‘I was thinking about her, thinking about me’ which eventually became ‘Just a Dream.’ I felt like I wanted to say something I knew that was comfortable for Nelly’s tone and his range. Nelly and I played off of each other in that sense. It was just us having fun in the studio.”
Beyond “Just a Dream,” Love has been making his own noise. He recently inked a label deal (Division 1 Music Group) with Universal Motown. Love’s first artist set for release is former Young Gunz MC and Jay-Z protégé Young Chris. “I don’t have a favorite musical genre,” Love says when asked of his overall striking diversity from pop to R&B to rap. “At the end of the day, I might want to hear just Mozart or Billy Joel the next day or Biggie. I’ve educated myself on other forms of music to keep myself knowledgeable.”—Keith Murphy