Ricco Barrino is on his way to making it big as a solo artist in the music industry, but has earned his respect as writer and vocalist long before making waves with his hit, California. In our interview, I spoke with the singer from North Carolina about his humble beginnings, competing with his sister Fantasia growing up (and ’til this day), his writing chops and what it took to make it to where his is right now.
Tell us about your background and how you started singing in the first place.
I come from a very small city called High Point, North Carolina. I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard of it, but it’s the furniture capital of the world. My father was a music man, who drove trucks and occasional would take me along to ride on the truck with them. The experience gave me a chance to see the world is bigger than where I’m from and made me want to more.
Other than your father and sister of course, does anyone else in your family sing?
Both my parents are singers actually, my mother was a powerful vocalist (and still is ’til this day). My aunts, uncles and cousins were already in the business growing up, and watching them helped groom me to be able to work the stage.
What made you want to pursue a career in music?
I got kicked out of high school running around with the wrong crowd and ultimately came close to catching a gun charge. I then ended up going to NC State University for football and while I was there started writing and wanted to move to Atlanta. I spent some time there and became a part of a group called Infinity, then came back to my roots in North Carolina and formed my own band.
You weren’t always known for your singing, you have an impressive pen game, who have you written for?
As far as records you may know, I’ve written on the Whatever You Like record with Tip which was recently picked up for AT&T commercial. I wrote the Pornstars hook on his Paper Trail album, I’ve also written for Trey Songz, Day26, R Kelly, Angie Stone and more. I can’t name them all right now.
From your experiences in the industry good and bad what has been the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
First and foremost, I had to learn patience. It’s almost like going to the gym and expecting to go one week and have muscles. You have to train, train, train! Another valuable thing I’ve learned was to practice on having faith, the hard part was knowing I could do it and not knowing how long it will take to be successful.
How did the California record come together and what was it like working with T.I. since leaving Grand Hustle initially?
The universe already brought it to me, I call it ‘shooting in the gym’. I drove up from Atlanta to Raleigh, NC to make the track. Colonel Loud’s manager Pockets knew me from music I did with him and Cap 1 and wanted to make more music. I went in for a studio session and the beat was already done, the concept was laid out to make a song about California. We all love going there and doing business so it felt right. I went into the both, closed my eyes and put the hook down right there. Dolph was already there at the studio to do another record with Loud and heard the track being made. He looked at me and automatically wanted to record a verse to it. The record started working itself through the dance and strip clubs first with DJ Funky at Strokers who brought the track to Reggie Rouse at V103. He heard it and loved it, the next week without even asking TI just laid his verse and sent it back. The rest is history, I believe in the universe making things happen the way they do.
How has the record changed your life over the past 6 months?
Nothing’s changed, I’ve gotten more humble, clamped down and have become more focused on my craft. My work ethic has stepped up and I am taking advantage of this opportunity. I’m learning to have a universal appeal and not be a hothead ending up wasting my life with drugs and addicts.
How does your sister Fantasia feel about the way things are going for you?
Growing up, we were very competitive and still are up to this day. I haven’t spoken to her in a while, we’ve both been on the road working and haven’t had chance to talk. The funny thing is, she actually gets nervous when she plays music for me because I’m her biggest critic. But I’m sure she’s proud of me and what I’m doing.
Your next single, Come To The Money is the one that will really establish you as a maistream artist and potentially set up a big push for an album. Where do you see it going?
Yes, the next single is Come To The Money, also produced by Mr. Hanky who did the beat for California. I want to prove that I can stand on my own and let the rappers just get on it like T.I. did with the last record.
You’re hitting the road with Colonel Loud for the Connect The Dots tour, what do you expect to gain from the tour with and what else do you have planned for 2016?
This is more about me now, I’ve been waiting on this moment. I thank God that the process was slow and I’m starting to heat up. It’s a chance for me to show people who I am. I was born ready for this, I feel at home on the stage and I have fun showing Loud how to work the stage.
Other than music what is something you do that people don’t know your interested in?
Motorcycles and cars are my passion. When I’m not doing music you can find me at a friends house in Fl, Atl or NC talking about tours and different events I’m always on a mission, or I go to the booty clubs to find inspiration for songs.
Name one thing you have to have while you are on the road to make you feel at home?
My laptop, I can always go into another world, surf the net, watch movies and look at pictures that remind me of home. I have to have a good set of headphones also.
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