Say “Hello” to the woman responsible for Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” and Beyonce’s “Deja Vu.” Yeah, those hits that made you run to the dance floor the minute you heard the DJ drop the beat, Makeba Riddick was the genius behind them.
The Baltimore, Maryland native has been working diligently in the industry for years penning hits for our favorite artists including Grammy nominated Tamar Braxton’s hit “Love & War.”
After college, the songwriter moved to BK where she interned at Sony during the day, worked as a temp at a Human Resources company to pay rent and recorded demos throughout the night, oftentimes returning to work the next day without a wink of sleep. On the brink of quitting, it was then that Riddick got the break she so needed from Queen Bey asking to work her.
She dialed into our interview from her home in Los Angeles to talk about her come up, the inspiration behind some of her number one hits and the one song she wish she wrote. Seriously, give her a round of applause or at least thank the girl.
HelloBeautiful: You said the concept for “Love & War” came about organically, I assume the same happened when crafting Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” because it shot straight to number one. How did that feel?
Makeba Riddick: Whenever you get a song that goes to number one its incredible because it’s so hard for that to happen. We worked so incredibly hard on the “Rated R” album and I was just happy to see one of the songs I wrote be the single and then go to number one. Rihanna actually hit me up and said ‘Can you believe ‘Rude Boy’ was the song that took off from the Rated R album?’ and we just laughed about it because we had so much fun writing that song and working in the studio.
HB: When you’re commissioned to write songs, do you take the artist in mind?
MR: When I’m commissioned to write a song for an artist I always have that specific artist in mind. I think of their range, what their voice is, what they maybe going through in their life and what maybe going on in their career at that time. I really try and tap into their head space so when they sing it, it can really be authentic and genuine to them.
HB: John Legend’s “Ordinary People” is such an accurate song. Are there any songs you hear that you wish you wrote?
MR: One of the songs right now that I’m like ‘Ugh!, I wish I wrote this song because this is my story and I feel exactly what the song is saying’ is the record “Mine” on Beyonce’s new album that Drake wrote. That song is just amazing and the lyrics are so honest.
HB: What are you working on now? Anything exciting?
MR: I’m really excited because right before the Christmas holiday I was working in the studio with J.Lo. I hope it makes the album. I’ve been working with some producers out of Italy and we’ve been working on some EDM. I’m scheduled to go back in the studio with Will. I. Am and I’m working on the new Tamar Braxton album so we’re about to make history again. I’m claiming it in Jesus name!
HB: What was it like working with Beyonce?
MR: A friend of mine called me out of the clear blue sky and said ‘Hey Makeba, I’m A&Ring Beyonce’s new album and I’m working with Mathew Knowles. We got this record that you did “Deja Vu” that she wants to cut.’ I was like no way! I was stoked. And then he went onto say that she wants to fly me to New York to work together. I flew to New York and all the while walking up to the door of the studio it was so surreal to me because I’m thinking to myself ‘This is not happening. I’m about to be in the studio with Beyonce’ Then a little bit of doubt set in. But just walking into that door, meeting her, shaking her hand for the first time was so surreal. Then it was like I woke up from a dream three weeks later. We wrote the whole “B-Day” album. I co-wrote seven songs with her. It was just a magical experience how those songs came together. Shortly there after “Deja Vu” shot straight to number one and I said to myself if I’m not doing this I’m not doing nothing in this life.
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