Interview: FKi 1st Speaks On Helping Develop Post Malone's Sound, Lessons From Kanye & More
In his lavish world filled with platinum plaques and wise words from Yeezus, FKi 1st aims to hold on to his last ounce of humility.
Atlanta's budding producer FKi 1st wants to hold on to the last ounce of his humble character, but he knows he'll have to let it go eventually. After taking over as executive producer of Post Malone's debut mixtape August 26 -- and upcoming album -- 1st is absorbing life-changing advice from for the biggest names in music, like Kanye West, who instructed him to refrain from acting on any humble tendencies.
"That humble sh*t gotta go out the door sometimes," Kanye told FKi.
Since beginning his musical journey in 2009 along with partner-in-crime Raye "Sauce Lord" Rich, 1st, who was born Marcus Roberts, became one of the most sought after beatsmiths in the South after cooking up unforgettable instrumentals for artists like Travis Porter, T.I., and 2 Chainz, just to name a few. After landing his monumental placement on 'Ye's LP The Life Of Pablo, Roberts felt obliged to take one of many lessons that Yeezy taught him to heart.
Within the past three years, FKi (which stand for "Fucking Kicking It") 1st Down, has acquired five Gold records in total (Tyga's "Dope" and 2 Chainz's "Watch Out" are the most recent). He first reached platinum status in 2014 when Iggy Azalea's "Work" sold over one million units. Now a days, the "Fade" producer is uplifting Post Malone's career with his beats. After working with platinum artists like Justin Bieber and Kanye West at Rick Rubin's house, it's clear FKi could live without being humble.
After he relived the epic parties during recording sessions for Malone's forthcoming LP Album Of The Year, FKi 1st opened up about how Diplo inspired him to release his own debut EP First Time For Everything. The project is set to drop at the end of May and will be his first release from his indie imprint Zooly The Label through Diplo’s Mad Decent record company. FKi also reflected on the tragic passing of Atlanta rapper Bankroll Fresh and the future of ILoveMakonnen's music career, both of which appear on his new EP.
1st's choice to hang on to the last ounce of his humble nature is noble to say the least. As one of the major forces behind Post Malone's debut LP, The Zooley Label founder guarantees their work will be considered for a Grammy. In time, the music world will witness how long FKi's southern hospitality last if his humility survives being nominated for the most prestigious honor in music.
VIBE: After working with the likes of 2 Chainz and Travis Scott, you’ve finally made to the top with a placement on Kanye West’s TLOP. How did the opportunity come about?
Fki: Basically we went over to Rick Rubin’s house and Kanye was over there. It was crazy. We were all just over there vibin’ out. That was the first meeting we all had with Kanye, too, other than a couple days before when Kanye and Post met at Kylie Jenner’s party. He told us to come through to the studio, but we ended up going to Rick Rubin’s house, which was fucking crazy. It was basically a good vibe session and we went back like two days in a row. Kanye already had the idea for “Fade.” He wanted some more production on it, some more stuff added to it. After Post added his verse, it all started coming along. Kanye’s a cool dude. He’s a normal guy. It doesn’t seem like it but in the studio, it’s just a couple people cooling and working. He’s a normal guy bruh. Of course he’s very talented and it was crazy meeting him, but it was a cool experience. I learned a lot from him too.
What’s something that you learned from him in particular?
You can’t be too humble. You have to be humble and down to earth to a certain degree. Like if you’re in this business or game of music, especially rap music you know what I mean, that humble shit gotta go out the door sometimes. You really got to show people what you do. You have to be at a high level. You can’t just be normal. You just be like 'Hey y’all I got something look at this.' You have to be like 'Look at this. I’m the whole package. I’m not holding anything back. This is everything.' Something else I picked up is don’t hold yourself back. Just believe in what you do and just push it all the way 100%. Don’t hold back. Fuck that humble shit. People around you, of course they want to see a humble humble guy. But I feel like in reality nobody wants that.
In the past you’ve said that you guys work so well with Post Malone because of your relatable chemistry and you’re both “weirdos." Describe some of the wild sessions from the mixtape.
For this mixtape, all the sessions were really like huge parties, believe it or not. There were only a couple of the songs we recorded dolo, like we recorded “Never Understand” randomly in New York. But most of the sessions for this were full blown parties bro (Laughs). With like 15-20 people in the studio, it was hard to work but we did. We were in the hills out by L.A. having a good vibe and working at the same time. Everybody was coming through. Erykah Badu came through one time. Post likes a lot of punk rock too, so a lot of punk rock artists and random pop came through too. We really wanted to have that vibe. And sometimes you’ve always got to have the real ones in the crowd too so they have keep 100 with you. This whole project was just like parties. I guess that’s the vibe we wanted to give for the summer.
You mentioned recording in L.A. and New York. Were those the only places you recorded the mixtape?
Yea, and the bus too because we’re on the Bieber tour right now so we finished a couple of songs and finalized them on the tour bus. We set up the studio in every hotel room so that we’ll never lose or miss a moment. But mostly, everything got started in L.A. at “the party house” I guess you would call it.
How do the wild sessions from the mixtape differ from the sessions for Album Of The Year?”
Truthfully, at the beginning of every session, every song we start is probably in the party setting like starting wise. We’ll probably finish the song in a more controlled area. While we were working on the album, Bieber came through a couple times. The track we did together was just a quick freestyle that came from the good moods, the ambiance, and where we were.
As the executive producer of Post’s new mixtape August 26, what did you think of the title at first?
At first I was like ‘Huh?’ of course. But then he said it was the release date for the album and was like ‘Wow that’s amazing.’ So now everyone has to know the exact date of when your album comes out. It’s like stuck in their brains. I thought it was an amazing title. It only took me like 5-10 seconds to think about it. Then I realized it was really dope.
What can we expect from Post's debut LP?
Man, they might fight me if I name the features on it but, he definitely made some amazing music with some amazing people. He’s definitely going to win a Grammy From it. I only work with amazing people. I try not to link up with people I’m not a fan of like everyone I’ve worked with, I’ve been a fan of. He’s just put in so much hard work into this from adding amazing strings, vocals, and finishing different parts of the songs, it’s just amazing music. It’s definitely going to switch some things up. There’s going to be some people switching up their music once they hear his first album, and even my album First Time For Everything. He just adds different layers. And of course I add my layers with the Atlanta element like 808’s and all, but this shit has different elements and levels to the music that we put together. It’s just well put together and he-- sometimes he sounds a lot older than what he is because of some of the lines and the things he says. There’s a song called “Cold Corners” on his album and the sound is so futuristic. The song sounds like it’s from 2020, like it’s not supposed to be out yet. He definitely put a lot of work into it.
Before you helped bring Post up with your spectacular production, you were already a house hold name behind the boards in the ATL. Who do you think are some of the South’s most valuable up-and-coming artists?
I fuck with 21 Savage right now. My top person was Bankroll. I was rooting for him all the way. Key! or “Fat Man Key.” There’s another producer named 217 who’s pretty dope too but he’s a younger cat. He did a lot of Bankroll’s stuff. But those are the dudes that I like at the moment.
You’ve also your own projects in the works like your EP First Time For Everything that’s set to drop this month as well.
Yea, it’s going to drop at the end of the month. I also have a video about the meaning that we just shot in Chicago. It’s featuring Post, and that comes out I think May 20. But yea, the project is coming at the end of the month, First Time For Everything. It’s crazy how it started because I randomly went to the studio with Diplo one time, and he was like ‘Yo you got to drop a project man.’ It kind of goes back to ‘stop being so humble and laidback. He was like ‘C’mon bro you’re dope. You’re dedicated. You’ve been doing this forever.” I’m just a “whatever happens, happens” type of a guy, but he told me to just go in and do it. That was last year, so since then I’ve been working with a couple different producers, a lot of Mad Decent guys. I basically made it with all of my friends like Key! Makkonen, Post, you know people I already know. Lil Uzi and Mac Miller too so it was really just linking up with friends to make music.
A lot of things have changed a lot since you first started working on the EP. After the sudden passing of Bankroll Fresh, talk about how your record with him makes you feel today.
It’s a weird and crazy situation with Bankroll since we were good friends. I mean, I kind of hold the song like it’s a piece of treasure now. It’s like damn I have it and he’s not even here. I listen to it all the time. There’s another song we got called “Everytime” that we made that’s on soundcloud right now. Every time I listen to it… it’s almost like his ashes I guess. You know how people keep ashes? That’s how I feel like it is to me. It’s crazy its like a little piece of treasure that I got to remember my friend man that I can hold on to. It means a lot. Sometimes I don’t think he knew how much I had planned for his career. I had so many songs and people were asking if I was working with him and I was like ‘Yep I’m working with him. It’s about to be crazy. Just watch. We’ve been working.’ I mean, there’s nothing we can do now but he’s still got music that people should hear. It’s just a crazy situation.
I can’t wait to hear it man. You also have a song with Makkonnen called ‘Forever’ on the EP. What do you think about his “retirement” announcement on Twitter? Have you spoken with him about it?
I haven’t really talked to him about that. We spoke on the phone when we were in New York. We were supposed to link but there was too much going on and we didn’t. But Makkonen is just Makkonen man. (Laughs) I feel like he’s going to come back with a hit because he’s an excellent producer. See I don’t think people know that. He’s an excellent producer. All the songs, like “Tuesday” and “I Don’t Sell Molly No More,” he co-produced all those songs and made the melodies and everything. Then of course Sonny and Metro came in and put everything else on it. I definitely think he’s going to be a successful producer. I know that for sure. Artist-wise, I love his music so I’m always going to hear it whether he makes or not. But I feel like he’s going to be a successful producer. I definitely believe that. That’s my bro.
Word on the street is that you’ll also be contributing to Jack U’s upcoming album. How do you feel about venturing into the EDM world?
I feel like it’s not too far from what I’m doing. I love EDM music. I love integrating different styles of EDM into music I produce now. I picked up a lot from Flosstradamus and those guys because they love merging hip-hop beats with EDM and that’s what they do so I feel like it’s a pretty easy jump because I always loved it. When I work with an EDM producer or when I work with a producer from a different genre, it’s really 50/50. I want to do what I want to do and I want them to do what they do then just put them together. Like I said before, it’s all going to be elements from Atlanta with everything I do. Of course, I got to pick up everything from great EDM producer especially Diplo and Flosstradamus and all the other guys. But it’s fun.