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Michael Jackson’s Songwriter Spills Secrets on the Gloved One’s Recording Sessions

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You may not have heard of Rico Love but you've definitely heard some of his hit songs, including Beyonce's "Sweet Dreams," "Daddy's Home" by Usher and Kelly Rowland's latest, "Commander." While he's a fascinating cat in his own right, I have a feeling what you really want to know is how the many artists he's crafted hits for — including the late, ultra great Michael Jackson! — behave in the studio. Love tells all about it and dishes on what it's like to share Turkey Day with Diddy! You've had a lot going on recently, including penning Diddy's latest hit, "Hello, Good Morning." How did that collaboration come about?

Rico Love: Well, I was just hanging out at Diddy's house one day. He had wanted to work with me, so we were hanging out and I got the beat for the song. As soon as I heard it, [the song title] just came into my mind. The music just speaks to me. I never write anything down. I just get in the studio and lay it down once something comes to my mind.

Us: So you and Diddy hit it off?

RL: Yeah! I actually wound up going over to his house in Miami for Thanksgiving dinner. It was actually really traditional! Besides the eight chefs in the kitchen, of course! It was pretty intimate, just me and my manager, Puff and his son and his mom, and then two or three friends around the table. He had "Hello, Good Morning" playing on a sound system throughout the house. That was cool. It was a really chill day. We watched football and then we went to the strip club!

Us: You also wrote Usher's song "Hey Daddy." What's he like in the studio?

RL: Usher is really cool. He likes it to be sexy in the room. He likes to have some candles lit, a sexy ambiance, but he still at the same time he is having fun. Every time I work with Usher we do a lot of laughing. Usher signed me when I was 22 years old — he was my start in the business, so it was so crazy for me to be so involved in his album and have the singles on the album do so well. It's almost like a 'student becomes the teacher' type situation.

Us: So I really like how Usher has a sexy vibe in the studio with candles and I would imagine that someone like Shakira would be very different. Is there anything about Shakira that fans would be surprised to know?

RL: Shakira she doesn't like to go in the recording booth. She records in the control room. So she has the mic set up right in the room and sings the ideas into the mic. She's very particular about what she wants to sing and how she wants to sing it.

Us: Does that allow the artist to be more hands on with the production side of things if they do it in the control room?

RL: No, that's just her process. She's already involved in the creative process more than a lot of other artists that I've worked with, but she just likes to be in the room. Everybody has their thing. Michael Jackson would lay on his back on the floor in a studio here in L.A. called Westlake and listen to the songs on the floor. They put speakers in the ceiling so he could lay back and hear the music.

Us: That's really cool. I never thought it could be so different for different artists. How was Beyonce when you did "Sweet Dreams" with her?

RL: Beyonce was straight to business. She smiles a lot she's very positive, her energy is positive. "Sweet Dreams" [came about] when she was a little late for a session because of her flight — there was a storm in Miami — and while we were waiting for her, I wrote the song. She walked in and heard it — she really wasn't planning on recording — and loved the song so much that she just took her shoes off, took her earrings out, went in the booth and recorded the song in an hour. She's so passionate about the music. If she loves it and feels the vibe, she feels like she has to capture the moment. And I really respect that.

Us: Lastly, what other products do you have coming up?

RL: I am working on Nelly's album and we just shot the video for Kelly Rowland's "Commander" yesterday here in L.A. [Her new material is] already getting so much love around the world and I think everyone is going to love it. I think I might be the person who worked with all of the Destiny Child girls collectively. I am really proud of that. I'm just trying to be forward, onward and upward. I'm trying to keep the energy high, keep the positivity flowing and keep the hits coming in.

By Ian Drew for To read more of Ian's blog, click here and don't forget to follow him on Twitter.

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