It's been a long road for Rico Love. The singer/rapper has spent more than a decade in the industry operating behind the scenes, largely as a writer and producer for the likes of Usher, Beyonce, Nelly, B.o.B, T.I., Wiz Khalifa and A$AP Rocky, among others. But lately he's been stepping out on his own, whether with credited features on cuts with Big K.R.I.T. and Plies, his debut EP Discrete Luxury in mid-2013 or his two recent mixtapes, El Presidente and I Sin.

But now the Interscope signee is done with EPs and free releases. Love's debut album, 11 years after he made his mainstream debut as a writer on Usher's 2004 LP Confessions, will be titled Turn The Lights On and is officially on its way May 19. The musician—who prefers not to be referred to as an R&B artist—played cuts from his upcoming LP during a trip to the XXL offices this week, letting us in on the feel and concept of what will be his first major step as a solo artist.

Love explained that Turn The Lights On will be a concept album telling the story of a man and woman who fall in and out of love, and each track supports a different thread in the narrative. "The Proposal," for instance, is an ironic take on the reasons people get married; instead of falling in love, the couple argues so much that they figure they might as well tie the knot. "The Affair," in contrast, is much more of a love song than it would imply, with the lead character falling head over heels with a girl he met on vacation.

"[Artists] tell stories that people can't relate to," Love said, adding that his records are aiming to tell real-life stories that can appeal to more people than those poppin' bottles in the club and speeding down the highway in their drop-top. "You should feel something on every record."

"Bad Attitude" is one of those cuts that hits home, with a particularly on-point Raekwon coming through and lacing the track with one of his patented mafioso-laden ghetto tales. Meanwhile, "Happy Birthday" leans heavily on Love's falsetto while retaining the feel of a late-1990s Ma$e record at times, which Love acknowledged by saying he wanted the track to sound like Busta Rhymes' "Pass The Courvoisier."

Of course, Love is as talented a producer as he is a writer, and his production footprints are all over Turn The Lights On; Jim Jonsin and DJ Dahi, the latter who produced "The Proposal" and "Bad Attitude," are also behind the boards on the LP. —Dan Rys

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