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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.

Rest In Peace To Bankroll #longlivebankroll @shotbyspencer 📸

A photo posted by 1st (@fki1st) on

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.

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Then & Now: Common Details How He And J Dilla Collaborated On The "Thelonious" Track With Slum Village

J Dilla and Common had a really tight creative bond and, at one point, lived together in L.A. So you know that Common got dibs on all of his hot beats first. They were hip-hop brethren just trying to work together and of all of their collaborations, living and posthumous, the track “Thelonius,” is the sharpest intersection of the two legendary artists' careers.

A singular song fit for two albums, the cut was placed on Common’s fourth studio album Like Water for Chocolate and Fantastic Vol. II, Slum Village's classic sophomore album. “Thelonius” as we know it was in a way an accident...a soulful snafu that we get to enjoy forever. In this excerpt of VIBE's Then & Now video franchise, Common shares how the song manifested unplanned, willed into existence by Dilla’s uncompromising creative compass.

The story is brought to life with artwork by visual artist supreme, Dan Lish (@DanLish1), the man behind Raekwon’s The Wild album artwork. The illustrations you see in this video are a small fraction of what you can find in his upcoming book: Egostrip Vol 1 – The Essential Hip Hop Art Book, a psychedelic visual history of hip-hop to be enjoyed by the genre’s oldest and youngest fans alike. 

Today is the last day to support Lish's Kickstarter for the incredible project. Click the following link for a copy of your own: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dan-lish/egostrip-book-1 

“I picked up on what inspired me about the artists, whether it be a certain lyric from a classic song or my perception of what may be going through their mind at the moment of creation,” says Lish.

There is much more to be said about all of these artists. For more stories on Common’s catalog, including several more Dilla cuts, stay tuned for the upcoming episode of Then & Now, where we dig deeper into notable tracks in the career of one Lonnie Rashid "Common" Lynn, Jr.

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Courtesy of Biz 3 / FCF

Quavo Is Introducing 'Fan Controlled Football' To The Culture

From their penchant for popping tags and name-dropping designer brands in their rhymes to the obsession with diamond-encrusted neckwear, the Migos are the modern-day poster-children for decadence and opulence. But when it comes to balling, group member Quavo is a seasoned veteran, literally and figuratively. Notorious for his appearances in NBA all-star celebrity games, where he routinely dominates the competition, Huncho has built a rep as one of the athletically gifted hit-makers in music today.

Although he's known for his skills on the hardwood, football is definitely among his passions. His newest endeavor, an ownership stake in Fan Controlled Football (FCF), the first professional sports league to put the viewer in the coach's seat and the general manager's office, in live time, finds him putting his focus back on the gridiron. Having inked an exclusive, multi-year streaming broadcast partnership with Twitch, the FCF will be the first professional sports league to be fully integrated with the streaming platform with the potential to explode in the digital age, where user interest and participation is the main recipe for success.

Having tossed the pigskin around as a Georgia high school football star, to Quavo, it was a no-brainer to get involved with the innovative league on the ground level. “We are building a brand and something different in our league – with the fans. They are in control and get to pick the team names, colors, logos, and more,” said Quavo said in a press release. “I’m really excited because FCF is fast-paced, high-scoring 7v7 football and you are in control. You go from sitting on the couch watching TV and pressing buttons on the remote to actually pressing the buttons on the plays.”

Played on "a 35-yard x 50-yard field with 10-yard end zones,” the Fan Controlled Football league will kick off in February 2021, with a four-week regular season, one week of playoffs, and a Championship week. The league will consist of former elite D-1 athletes, the CFL, XFL, and the Indoor Football League. Broadcasted live from the FCF’s state-of-the-art facility in Atlanta, each game will be 60 minutes in length and will allow the viewers to play a hand in the final outcome on Twitch.

Aside from sports, Quavo has been relatively lowkey on the musical tip as of late, with two years having passed since a solo release or a Migos album. However, according to him, this delay can be considered the calm before the storm, as he assures him and his brethren are primed for one of their biggest years yet. VIBE hopped on the line with Quavo to talk Fan Controlled Football, what he's got cooking in the studio, and his foray into TV and film.

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You're the newest team owner at Fan Controlled Football (FCF). What about the league piqued your interest and made you wanna get involved?

It's just showing my interest in the game of football and just trying to put a twist to where it's fan-controlled, fan-involved. A lot of times we watch the game, you watch the game, you just have some concerns. Sometimes you feel you can make the plays or call the play, [with FCF], you can sit on the couch and make the play. I just think we came together to make something crazy like that. I feel like it's something hard, it's something new, it's something fresh. It's a new beginning to something, like giving ni**as a chance. Giving D-1 players who couldn't make it to the league a chance, giving ex-NFL ni**as a chance if they still got it, [and] to go with the fans. When we saw the Falcons lose the Superbowl LI, we [fans] just knew what plays to call, we knew to run the ball. We were up 28-3. All we had to do was hold the ball, but we wanted to air it out and we made a mistake and lost to Tom Brady. Just like when Marshawn could've won a Superbowl. If they'd have given him the ball on the two-yard line. We knew that Marshawn Lynch was supposed to get the ball, [but] they wanted Russell Wilson to win it and the New England Patriots caught an interception. So that's how we're trying to shape it, we're trying to make something new.

The FCF will be live-streamed exclusively on Twitch, which has become one of the leading platforms for eSports live-streaming and will kick off in February 2021. Do you feel the FCF has the opportunity to fill that NFL void during the spring, particularly given the fan engagement that FCF enables?

Most definitely, cause after the Super Bowl, it just feels like you just want another game. You feel like you want one more game. and coming from something [where it's] eleven on eleven players to seven on seven, I feel [there’s] still a difference. After coming from watching the game and the regular politics, the regular structure of the game, now you're getting to be involved in a game that you can control. You can pick the jersey, you can pick the helmets, you can pick the jerseys, you can pick the coaches, you can pick the plays. I just feel there are two different dynamics [between the NFL and FCF). You come from sitting on the couch and pressing the remote to actually pressing the button on the plays."

Speaking of fan engagement, the FCF is the only professional sports league that enables fans to call the plays in real-time and puts the viewer in control of a game’s outcome like never before. Have you ever had that experience, as far as fantasy football?

Nah, but I'm into Madden. You can sit at home and pick your plays [with FCF], it's just like the lifestyle of Madden. It's like a reality of Madden. You're playing with people at home, with these unique athletes, and it's seven-on-seven.

As an Atlanta native, how significant was the FCF’s state-of-the-art facility being in your hometown in your decision to come on board as an owner?

It's very important. We got top-tier talent here, so it's opening up opportunities for a lot of guys. We're just glad it's in the south, it's like a hub. Everybody loves Atlanta and everybody wanna be here. Everybody wanna play and the weather is good.

NFL Super Bowl Champions Richard Sherman and Marshawn Lynch, boxing legend Mike Tyson, and YouTuber and podcaster empire Greg Miller are among the FCF's team owners. How does it feel to be competing against some of the most accomplished athletes and entertainers in the world? Have you had the opportunity to meet with any of them?

Most definitely. I have a good relationship with Mike Tyson. I've met Marshawn Lynch, it's a blessing. I feel like we're not competing right now, I feel like we're building a brand. I feel like we're building a league. I feel like we're trying to make the world understand what we're bringing to the table and what type of game we bring to the table, you feel me? I feel we're trying to create something different. Once we get the ball rolling, it's all together and moving into a real FCF league, then we'll get to compete. Of course, we all wanna win, but right now, we're just trying to get the foundation and the basics going and letting the strength of the owners and the relationships show on the field.

Being that you'll all be working with your respective fan bases in shaping your team’s personality and identity, any thoughts about what the team’s name will be? 

Man, I wish I did, but it's so straight strictly fans that you never know. Just like with music, can have an idea that is a smash, and then the fans don't think it is. You gotta strictly listen to the fans on this one. You gotta listen strictly to how they want it because it's the point of the game, that's the point of the league. We gotta let them control this game and then we the players and we the people that's listening to the people, the culture. FCF stands for culture, too, you feel what I'm saying? We listen to the culture, we're letting the culture run the field.

How involved will you be in the drafting and scouting process for your squad?

The fans make the draft, fans get to see everything. Open books, everything. It's an open thing, it ain't nothing to hide over here. The fans control it all.

In addition to sports, you've also been delving into acting, with cameos in shows like Atlanta, Star, Black-ish, and Ballers. Earlier this year, you appeared as yourself in Narcos: Mexico. How did that opportunity come about? 

Narcos reached out. We [Migos] had this song called “Narcos” on the [Culture II] album and we went and shot [the video] in Miami and everybody thought it was a Narcos movie scene and it ended up being Madonna's house. So we just shot that there and then they reached out to us. I think Offset had a performance somewhere and Takeoff had to do something and I just ended up being free that day and I went and shot it in New Mexico. I had fun, I loved it.

Do you have plans to pursue any supporting or leading roles in film or television?

Hell yeah, most definitely. I've been sitting down and having real great meetings with directors and people that got some movies in the works for 2021. I feel like I’ve got some good spots. I don't wanna tell it cause they’re gonna make some announcements. It's coming soon.

It's been two years since you've released a solo project or one with the Migos. Can fans expect any new music from you anytime soon and what are your next plans on that front?

Most definitely, hell yeah, we're shooting videos right now. We’re vaulting up a whole lot of videos so we can give you music and visuals at the same time. “Need It," the song came first and then the video. Right now, we wanna get a lot of videos and a lot records in the vault and smash [them] all at once 'cause it's been two years.

Pop Smoke's passing was one of the more tragic events in rap in recent memory, but his debut album, which you appeared on throughout, has been one of the most successful and acclaimed projects of 2020. How has it been seeing how the album’s been received, especially after you and him developed such a bond in a short time?

I'm happy. I'm proud of him, that was my partner. We did a lot of records, we spent a lot of time together and I feel like the album would've did even more with him being alive. A lot of people's album just go crazy when they die, I feel like his sh*t would've still went crazy. He had the momentum, he had the buzz. He was having fun. He was hot, he was fresh, he had everything ready.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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Toots Hibbert performing at Hammersmith Palais, London in 1983.
Photo by David Corio/Redferns

Remembering Toots Hibbert

The best singers don’t need too many words to make their point. Otis Redding could let loose with a sad sad song like “Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa” and get you all in your feelings. Bob Marley got pulses pounding with his “Whoi-yoooo” rebel yell. Gregory Isaacs melted hearts with nothing more than a gentle sigh. Toots Hibbert, who died last Friday at the age of 77, could sing just about anything and make it sound good. One of the world's greatest vocalists in any genre, Toots paired his powerful voice with the understated harmonies of Raleigh Gordon and Jerry Mathias to form The Maytals, a vocal trinity that never followed fashion and remained relevant throughout the evolution of Jamaican music—from the ska era to rock steady straight through to reggae, a genre named after The Maytals' 1968 classic “Do The Reggay.”

Whether they were singing a sufferer’s selection (“Time Tough”), a churchical chant (“Hallelujah”), or the tender tale of a country wedding (“Sweet and Dandy”), The Maytals blew like a tropical storm raining sweat and tears. The lyrics to Six and Seven Books,” one of The Maytals' earliest hits, are pretty much just Toots listing the books of the Bible. “You have Genesis and Exodus,” he declares over a Studio One ska beat, “Leviticus and Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua, Judges and Ruth...” Having grown up singing in his parents' Seventh Day Adventist Church in the rural Jamaican town of May Pen, Toots knew the Good Book well.

The Maytals broke out worldwide in 1966 thanks to the song “Bam Bam,” which won Jamaica's first-ever Independence Festival Song Competition, held during the first week of August as the island nation celebrated both independence from Great Britain in 1862 and emancipation in 1834. They would go on to win the coveted title two more times, but “Bam Bam” was a singular song with a message every bit as powerful as Toots' voice. “I want you to know that I am the man," Toots sang. He was young and strong, ready to "fight for the right, not for the wrong." The trajectory of "Bam Bam" would not only transform Toots' life but make waves throughout popular music worldwide.

"Festival in Jamaica is very important to all Jamaicans," the veteran singer stated in a video interview this past summer while promoting his latest entry into the annual competition. "I must tell you that I won three festivals in Jamaica already, which is “Bam Bam,” “Sweet & Dandy” and “Pomp & Pride.” Toots described that first festival competition as a joyous occasion. "Everybody just want to hear a good song that their children can sing," he recalled. "Is like every artist could be a star."

In 2016, on the 50th anniversary of "Bam Bam" winning first place, Toots looked back over the legacy of the tune that made him a star. "I didn’t know what it means but it was a big deal," he told Boomshots. "You in the music business and you want to be on top and you write a good song and you go on this competition and if they like it then it becomes #1." After The Maytals won, the group was in demand not just all over the island, but all over the world. "We start fly out like a bird," he says with a laugh. "Fly over to London."

"Bam Bam" went on to inspire numerous cover versions, starting with Sister Nancy, Yellowman, and Pliers. It would also be sampled in numerous hip hop classics, and interpolated into Lauryn Hill's "Lost Ones." But according to Toots, he did not benefit financially from these endless cover versions. "People keep on singing it over and over and over, and they don’t even pay me a compliment," he told Boomshots. "I haven’t been collecting no money from that song all now."

 

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“This man don’t trouble no one... but if you trouble this man it will bring a Bam Bam” Original Maytals Classic @tootsmaytalsofficial 🎶 All them a talk, them nuh bad like Niya Fiya Ball ☄️🔥💥 via @tonyspreadlove . 💥💣🔫#Boomshots

A post shared by Word Sound & Power (@boomshots) on Sep 12, 2020 at 8:19am PDT

When Toots began singing in his parents' church, music was not seen as a career prospect, and the profits were slim for Jamaican recording artists in the 1960s. "Those days we get 14 cents for the record to play on the radio," Toots said. "I get three shillings and five shillings for a number one record, which I had 31 number one record in Jamaica... It’s not about money for me. It’s about the quality that Jamaicans need to go back in the festival jamboree... You gotta talk to the children."

On the poignant “54-46 (Was My Number),” Toots recalls the dehumanization of his arrest and 18-month imprisonment at Jamaica's Richmond Farm Correctional Center for what he always insisted was a trumped-up ganja charge just as his music career was taking off. The song's crescendo comes two minutes in when Toots breaks into a scat solo that cannot be translated into any language known to man, delivered with palpable passion that made his message universal. During Toots' ecstatic stage performances he would follow this riff by commanding his band to “Give it to me... one time!” Then the 'd make 'em say Uh!  (Way before Master P!) “Give it to me... two times!” Uh! Uh! And so on and so forth until Toots worked the place into a frenzy.

The Maytals' live show was so explosive that Toots began touring all over the world, opening for rock megastars like The Rolling Stones and The Who. While Bob Marley richly deserved the title King of Reggae, his friend Toots was performing internationally before The Wailers, and remained a force to be reckoned with throughout his life, blazing a trail for generations of reggae artists to follow in his footsteps.

On his Grammy-winning 2004 album True Love, Toots recorded some of his greatest hits with a host of legendary artists, many of whom were also good friends, including Willie Nelson, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Bonnie Raitt, Sheryl Crow, and Eric Clapton. His 2006 cover of Radiohead's "Let Down" was a favorite of the band's, who used to play it on their tour bus. Radiohead guitarist Jonny Greenwood called Toots’ version “truly astounding,” according to Easy Star Records Michael Goldwasser.

Toots supported himself and his family by touring all over the world. During a 2013 show in Richmond, Virginia he was singing John Denver's "Take Me Home Country Roads" when a teenager in the crowd threw a vodka bottle at the stage and hit him on the head. He suffered a concussion and had to stop touring for several years. As his first album in a decade, Got To Be Tough was highly anticipated when it was released on Trojan Jamaica label August 28. On the cover the former boxer and lifelong fighter can be seen throwing a punch. Just a day after the album dropped, Toots came down with symptoms similar to COVID 19. Within a few days he was hospitalized where doctors placed him into a medically induced coma from which he never recovered. As his Tidal obituary pointed out, he passed away exactly 33 years after his old friend Peter Tosh died by gunfire.

Songs like "Just Brutal" from the hit different now, with Toots pleading for more love in a world gone wrong. "We were brought here," Toots sings. "Sold out. Victimized brutally. Every time I keep remembering what my grandfather said before he died."

“I’m feeling alright,” Toots said the last time we spoke, while he was still sidelined with stress issues due to the bottle-throwing incident. "I’m feeling alright. I’m feeling alright. I’m feeling just cool because is Jah works. You seet?" I asked him if the song "Bam Bam," was about him—a peaceful man who should not be provoked—or else. "Nooo don't trouble him," Toots said with a laugh. "It’s gonna be double trouble, triple trouble. A lot of trouble."

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