My Five Firsts: Ricco Barrino


Ricco Barrino took a short hiatus from the music industry, but the High Point, North Carolina native returned in 2015 with a major hit. The singer-songwriter is one of the contributors, along with T.I. and Young Dolph, to Colonel Loud’s Top 10 R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay smash “California.”

In addition, Barrino’s affiliation with Tip extends to being a member of the Atlanta rapper’s Grand Hustle Records roster where Ricco added vocals to T.I.’s “P### Star,” Young Dro’s “Hood Gospel,” and B.o.B’s “5th Dimension.” His résumé also includes writing credits for Young Jeezy, R. Kelly, and his sister American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino.

The nephew of the 1960’s soul group The Barrino Brothers is also a solo artist in his own right. Besides teaming with some of the top talent in the business, Barrino has released his own mixtapes Twenty 12 Play and Musical Evolution. Up next is his single “Come To The Money,” another collaboration with Colonel Loud. connected with Ricco Barrino to take part in the “My Five Firsts” series. This exclusive interview consists of the “Bubble Gum” vocalist sharing his experiences on performing with Fantasia, meeting T.I., hitting the strip club, and hearing a couple of classic R&B albums for the first time.

[ALSO READ: My Five Firsts: Sheek Louch]

First Time Performing In Public With Fantasia

Long before American Idol, we were already making people feel good in local churches. So as we got older, we found ourselves in clubs and local coffee houses making people stand on tables and chairs by making people listen to our vocals. It was always an adrenaline rush.

First Time Meeting T.I.

It was a surreal feeling. I had contemplated and calculated that day for so long that it felt like we had been brothers in another life. We immediately got to work, and he trusted my opinions which kept me motivated. I owe a lot to him for believing in me since day one. From the first phone call to now, he has never changed. Salute Tip.

First Time Going To A Strip Club

I was in Atlanta, Georgia, and the strip club was Jazzy T’s. I remember like it was 5 minutes ago. They were playing an Eminem song. Although I am a fan of Eminem, I am not a fan of all of his work.

That night the DJ played his new single and I remember watching this girl in front of me who was built like a female Belgian horse dance for me slowly. Man, I could have gave her my wallet that night. [laughs]

Long story short, I couldn’t get the song out of my head. That night inspired me to write my first regional hit single “Bubble Gum” which caught the attention of Atlantic records and [Grand Hustle co-founder] Jason Geter. I knew I wanted that same feeling and understood the power of the strip club in reference to breaking new music. God Bless Jazzy T’s!

First Time Hearing The Beat For “California”

For me, the beat felt the same, because I grew up around that type of sound. I’m all the time finding myself living out déjà vu moments, moments from my childhood days. So to hear the beat, it’s almost as if I was a part of the composers’ mission to reinvent a classic that never died, it only grew.

First Time Hearing R. Kelly’s 12 Play and Jodeci’s Forever My Lady

R.Kelly’s 12 Play – for me it gave me a feeling of freedom to speak passionately about things that men didn’t say on records. I found the passion to be able to say what I wanted and make my own Zane book off of the stamp R. Kelly put on wax.

Jodeci’s Forever My Lady – with Jodeci it was total excitement, because what people didn’t know was that they are my first cousins. So once I heard them hop on the record [“Treat Them Like They Want to Be Treated”] with Father MC, after hearing them come out of church it made me want to hear more. I was so amped up I must have requested it 1500 times. Then the DJ played it about 1500 times till I didn’t want to hear it anymore. That’s when I knew it was a hit song.

[ALSO READ: My Five Firsts: Sevyn Streeter]

ConnectDaDots Tour

Purchase Ricco Barrino’s music on iTunes.

Follow Ricco Barrino on Twitter @RICCOBARRINO and Instagram @riccobarrino.