Rico Beats is watching his stars finally come into alignment. Known for his work on Soulja Boy’s third studio album, The DeAndre Way, the “Mean Mug” producer is now seeing his stock rise after his work on the title track to Nicki Minaj’s upcoming sophomore album, “Roman Reloaded,” which features Lil Wayne. That’s not the only reason he’s one to watch. The Brooklyn native is also in the studio banging out Pusha T’s upcoming solo effort alongside Grammy Award-winning producer The-Dream. Gaining praise from everyone including Pharrell to Needlz to Teddy Riley, Rico took the time to chop it up with XXLMag.com. The newbie discusses his road to becoming a producer, crafting “Roman Reloaded,” future work (with Meek Mill, Jadakiss, Fabolous, etc.) and more. —Ralph Bristout (@XXLRalph)

XXLMag.com: What made you decide to become a producer?
Rico Beats: On some real shit, I got into this shit around like ’03. I used to play ball— we all got that hoop dream bullshit—[so] when I realized that it wasn’t gonna happen, one of my homies [who] was like my mentor, Needlz, was getting it poppin’ around that time so, I kind of like followed his steps and he mentored me.

How did you two develop camaraderie?
Through another friend, named Chemical Beats. That was like another one of my mentors [and] big homies from the hood and shit. After that I just kept grinding and Needlz kept on giving me pointers and all that shit. I just took it from there.

What was your first major production credit?
There was a couple of them shits [that] I don’t even wanna talk about, but the first major one I would say is on the last Soulja Boy album [The DeAndre Way], the “Mean Mug” with 50 Cent. I did like half of that album and shit but [it] ain't go too well so, I had to go back to the cave and start cooking up.

Those two joints you did on Pusha T’s Fear Of God II, "Changing of the Guards," and "Body Work," are heaters.
Nah man that’s the shit, I mean you will find [that] I got heat man. I ain't trying to be on no cocky shit, [but] a nigga got bangers. It's about time niggas understand, you not gonna find me on nobody's mixtapes with no weak shit. That was “Body Work” with Meek on there, then you got the other joint [“Changing of the Guards"] with Diddy poppin’ his shit, you know the joint with Soulja and 50, that was a mean ass record [too].

You did some work on Pusha’s upcoming solo project, too?
Oh man, Pusha shit is gonna be so fucking stupid. Like, it’s not even like just the street shit, like fucking hip-hop period. They need some real fucking music and Pusha is gonna be that dope boy nigga that nobody’s expecting to really make noise and he’s gonna come out and fuck shit up and win a Grammy on some real shit off this album. This shit is that legendary. I got like seven or eight joints. I’m all over that shit. Me, him and The-Dream was in Miami all last month just goonin’ and wylin’ out in the studio. This nigga Dream is fucking amazing, I can't bring up words to say just look out for that joint.

How did that “Roman Reloaded” record come about?
One of my close homies, my nigga S. Beezy [Safaree Samuels] we from the same hood [in] Brooklyn and I knew him for years. I started doing beats and I heard that he got cool with Nicki, [then] we kind of lost touch because we both was busy. By the time everything popped off, he hit me up and was asking me for beats, I was like, Damn man, I’m working with Soulja and I don’t got time. So, that’s why I ain't make the first album, but this time around he hit me up early like, “Yo man we bout to go in.”

Late last year he hit me and I just got to work and it was crazy I did so many beats and Nicki. She’s really picky with her sound and she know what she want, so I was going in for like a month just sending beats. She was liking certain beats, and then by the next week [she would be like] she doesn’t want it. It was just a crazy process. “Roman Reloaded” was just one of the joints that was like undeniable that she was like, “Oh shit Rico, you got one.” She is incredible. One of the nicest people I ever met and they don’t know that about her. She is one of the coolest people on this planet my nigga, unbelievable. I was in L.A. rocking the studio with her.

It’s a great feeling and the funny thing is, I had called [Sarafee] like a week ago and we was talking like, "Yo man, look at how they bashing Nicki." I think he knew in his mind that they were gonna drop “Roman Reloaded” but he didn’t tell me. I didn’t know until when it dropped. Honestly I heard it when this nigga [Funkmaster] Flex played it [on Hot 97]. Flex went in for like 40 minutes. That’s love.

What’s should we expect from Rico as the year progresses?
I got two joints with Jadakiss. [One track] features Young Jeezy and that's gonna fuck the streets up. The other joint is Jada featuring someone else but, I cant let that out yet. Me and The-Dream [are] all over Pusha’s project, we gonna drop something soon that’s gonna fuck the streets up. I’m [also] suppose to be going in with the Brooklyn homie, Fabolous as well as Meek Mill, PUSH! Montana and more. It’s about to go down.