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Rico Love ‘Believes In’ Nelly, Preps His Own Label

Hannibal Matthews

Rico Love tends to tune out the naysayers, especially when they’re speaking crudely of his friends in the music business. The 27-year-old songwriter recently collaborated with Nelly and Jim Jonsin to create the guitar-laden track ‘Just a Dream,’ which has spent six weeks on the Billboard Top 100 and currently sits at No. 7 on the chart. The song’s undeniable pop appeal is a slap in the face to those who scoffed at Rico’s choice to work with the St. Louis-bred rapper.

“Honestly, nobody believed in the project,” Love tells The BoomBox. “A lot of people in the business, I was telling ‘em I was working with Nelly on this new record, and everybody was telling me, ‘Nah, I think Nelly is over.’ And I was like, ‘How can you say that about Nelly?’ Nelly is probably one of the biggest hip-hop artists ever. It’s funny how people, in this game, count you out so fast.”

With the release of an accompanying video — directed by Sanji and shot in black and white — ‘Just a Dream’ is maintaining a viral presence. For Love, who’s written for the likes of Usher and Beyonce, the record’s immediate acceptance has been gratifying. “It was exciting to see the success of the record so early and it’s only the beginning,” he says. “It’s still growing and growing and growing. I love to do projects that I’m excited about and that I want to do, not just because people think I should do them. When I do make those decisions, it always works out for the best ’cause I go with my heart.”

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Rico does just that when working alongside producer Jim Jonsin. He considers Jonsin a “brother” despite their work relationship as the masterminds behind songs like Usher’s ‘There Goes My Baby’ and Fantasia‘s ‘Falling in Love Tonight.’ During their studio session while creating Nelly’s ‘Just a Dream,’ the second single off his sixth album, ’5.0,’ the duo relied on their individual strengths while functioning as a team. “It’s weird how it came together like that,” Love admits. “I actually got the footage all on camera of how it all came together. Jim had the beat already. Myself and Nelly were just sitting down, coming up with melodies and he came up with ‘Just a dream,’ then after that I came up with ‘I was thinkin’ ’bout her, thinkin’ bout me, thinkin’ bout us, what we gon’ be…’”

Years of teaming up with veteran producers and esteemed artists have inspired Rico to build a brand on his own. The rapper-turned-singer created Division 1 Music Group, a production company housing talent like beatmakers Earl and E. As a result of the chart-toppers on his resume, Rico scored a 50/50 joint venture with Universal Motown. “It’s not a production deal, it’s a true label deal,” Love states.

As for the acts on his roster, Rico’s keeping mum on details of a male emcee he signed, but promises a “big announcement” is forthcoming. However, the ladies under his tutelage are getting their shine now. “I have a young lady by the name of Cherlise,” he reveals. “[She's] more R&B, a young, black, urban girl. She’s fly, from Miami. [And] I got a girl by the name of Sophie Green that I’m super duper excited about. [She's] from D.C. and she lives in Brooklyn. There’s no way to describe her style. It’s just something that you’re gonna have to hear. It’s some next level shit.”

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