FKi, the duo that consists of 1st and Rich, or SauceLordRich if you will, have produced songs that you undoubtedly fuck with. From T.I. to 2 Chainz to Iggy Azalea to Post Malone's "White Iverson," 1st and Rich have paved their own lane in music. Their creativity isn't limited to production, however, as both Rich and 1st also rap. You've heard about producers rapping before, but Rich and 1st don't care about those perceptions. Both have solo projects on the way in the near future, as well as their FKi EP with Mad Decent and Diplo.
The 25-year-olds grew up together in Atlanta and have been making music forever, but unlike a number of up-and-coming producers, they decided to go to college to perfect their craft. They've had major, successful chart hits, such as Travis Porter's "Make It Rain" and "Bring It Back," but prefer to work with younger, lesser-known artists. They want to build the FKi empire piece by piece and do real shit together so all of their friends can make it. We spoke with the charismatic duo in what you could hardly call an interview. Like their music, they wouldn't let themselves get boxed in during the conversation, as they talked about everything. And we mean everything: From their role in the budding New Atlanta movement to literally getting in fights with other artists, and why they don't want to compromise a thing with their music, everything was on the table.
Zach Frydenlund is a writer living in New York. Follow him @ThaRealPchopz.
You guys have known each other for a while. How did you guys first link up?
1st: We’ve always been rapping. We’ve always been producing. So we’ve always been doing the rapping shit. When we ran into each other, we had the same fucking music likes and takes, other than our battle over Jay Z and Nas. We used to ride the same bus home and shit, and we’ve been working together ever since. We just started building our own production company.
What led you guys to go to school for music?
1st: No lie—we had to go to college. That’s some shit that my grandpa said. So I was like, “Fuck that. I’m not going to a regular university. That shit sucks. People do that shit for nothing. They teach you bullshit.” In my head, I figured that we could go to school for music since we were already good at it. It would just add a little bit more to what we were already doing. Going to school made us Pro Tools monsters.
What was your first big break?
1st: Our entrance into the industry was definitely working with Travis Porter. We all linked up. There was a lot of buzz growing in Atlanta surrounding this whole futuristic movement. I started working with Collipark Music and Mr. Collipark. He’s an older producer. He did a lot of the Ying Yang Twins’ shit. I ran into him and told him that we made beats and shit and he didn’t really believe me. Then, Mr. Collipark and Mr. Hanky linked us up with Travis Porter. He was like, “Yo, you should work with them. They’re young too. Maybe you can get something going.” So, we started engineering and working with them.
Then one day, one of the members was like, “Yo, you always bring a fucking keyboard to the studio. Why don’t you make some fucking beats?” So, that day we made “Make It Rain” and “Bring It Back.” We didn’t have shit. We were in a basement with a microphone and an Mbox. We made “Make It Rain” and “Bring It Back” that same day. There were a couple of girls in the studio that inspired it. But that was it. Before that, we’d always been rapping. We’d always been making music. That was just the entrance to really get us in.
With Post Malone, did you guys know that “White Iverson” was going to blow up like it did?
Rich: We knew that Post was going to blow up, in general. It didn’t matter which song it was. We knew that he was going to go, anyway.
How did you guys originally link up with him?
1st: We met him a year and a half ago. I was working with a couple of homies and shit in the studio. My boy was like, “Yo, here’s a kid that raps.” At that time, he was just straight rapping. He can rap too. That’s what people don’t know. Post can rap his ass off. He’ll rap circles around your ass. That’s my homie. We met him then we got right in the studio and made a song. We’re still thinking about releasing it. It’s like the first song that we ever made so it’s nostalgic to us. It’s so hard. Post produces too, actually. We linked up and then I heard him sing and I was like, “Homie, you’re a beast. I already know that you’re going to be the biggest artist in the world.” Sure enough, he started making “White Iverson.” We stay in the studio all night, so I was asleep when he started making it. I heard him working on it at, like, 6 in the morning and I was like, “What the fuck? Do you know what you just did?” We just went back in and cleaned it up and edited it and got everything fixed up. Then he was like, “Fuck it. I’m about to put this out.” “White Iverson” meant so much to him because he doesn’t really practice. He can just do that shit. I picked that up when I met him. That was the beginning right there. We dropped that shit on SoundCloud and it got a million plays in three weeks. Future and all these other artists hit us up. That was the beginning of Post’s shit.
You guys have also worked with 2 Chainz. What’s it like working with him versus working with the New Atlanta movement?
1st: Tity Boi—I call him Tity—is a legend, especially in Atlanta. He raps his ass of every single night. From 11 p.m. until 6 in the morning, he just raps. I really respect his craft and he’s teaching us new shit too. We’re producing his whole album, by the way, with Honorable C-Note. We’re just in the studio writing hooks in L.A. because that’s where he’s been working. We’ve been cooking up in Atlanta a lot too. He really knows how to do this shit, and he teaches us because we’re rappers too. I don’t want people to get us twisted and be like, “Oh, they’re producer-rappers.” Like, no, fuck you, bro. We’ve been doing this shit for a long time. We will rap circles around you and we will make better songs than you, so chill the fuck out.
808 Mafia have had their problems in the past. How do you guys keep your creative relationship healthy?
1st: We give each other space. We really are our own people. You can’t force stuff. You have to keep it genuine. But we’ve been friends long enough to know that we can come back together at any time. I guess it goes back to us being friends for so long.
Rich: You just can’t be a bitch ass nigga. People do a lot of bitch ass shit to each other, but we’re not on bitch ass shit. Nothing’s personal. We’re real friends, so it’s hard, but we try not to cross each other in weird ways.
You guys have done some touring in the past. You guys toured with Diplo and Iggy Azalea. What did you learn from that experience?
1st: We’ve known Iggy forever. We were out in Atlanta eating tacos and shit together. We’ve known her for a long fucking time. We had met Diplo in Atlanta when he was DJing at this cool local club. He was like, “I love y’all. Your beats are hard.” So, we went to the studio. We were playing beats. He was playing beats. We started making shit together. I was like, “Yo, I know this chick named Iggy. This white chick and she’s, like, a model from Australia. Let’s make her some beats and shit.” He was like, “Alright.”
So we flew to L.A. and he let us work at the Mad Decent studio. We basically cooked that whole thing up. Diplo taught us so much. He’s like one of my idols. He always makes cool shit. He cares about cool shit. He doesn’t just jump on something because it’s going to be a hit. That’s how I am. You can make anything cool and you can make anybody cool, if they have it a little bit.
You can make anything cool and you can make anybody cool, if they have it a little bit. So that’s what I learned from diplo. —1st
Iggy gets a lot of hate. What’s your experience been working with her since then?
1st: As everybody knows, sometimes people get too famous and you kind of disconnect. We still fuck with her. We don’t have anything against her. I know everybody is going at her head right now, so hopefully she clears that shit up. I’m going to send some tracks and hopefully we can work. I don’t know. It’s just a small disconnect. She’s still cool though. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future with everything, but if she ever wants to make music, we’ll make it.
Rich: She’ll come back. They always come back, 1st.
1st: That’s true. That’s a very true statement.
1st: If you fucking fall off, call us, and we’ll bring your ass back. That’s the reality.
Are you working with Diplo on your upcoming joint project?
1st: Yeah, we are. There are actually two projects. They’re Every Day Matters and There’s a First Time for Everything. We’re going to have a Diplo and Friends mix that’s coming out through Mad Decent. The first project that we worked on with Diplo was Transformers N the Hood. That got a very good look around. So yeah, this will be the third project that we’ve worked on with Diplo and Mad Decent. I’m excited for everybody to hear that shit. It’s hard as fuck.
What are your goals for each of your solo projects?
1st: Of course, when the project comes out, we’re hoping to get some notoriety. We’ll probably have some kind of tour with a lot of the main people that we’re working with out of Atlanta. Key! is on the project. Makonnen is on the project. OG Maco is on the project. My homie DJ Bells is helping out with the project. There’s going to be features and everything, but it’s going to come together perfectly. Like I said, we want to have our own tours and shit. Like the new age of Atlanta or something. We’d bring Key!, Makonnen, Maco, and of course Post. We definitely just want to make this, put it out, spread the whole Atlanta sound, and keep doing what we’re doing with the other artists that we’re doing it with.
A few months ago, did you guys have any idea that the new Atlanta movement was going to blow up like it did?
1st: We knew. This started last summer. Last summer, at this one studio on the west side of Atlanta off of Metropolitan, Makonnen, OG Maco, and Key! were all coming through. I was just like, “Yo, we’re on some new shit. This shit is about to fully take over.” At that time, everybody was hanging out in the room and smoking whatever weed we had. I just remember Maco coming through and he was playing all this new shit. He played “Give Em Hell” and “U Guessed It” back to back. They played “Prophets With Profit.” I just knew that something was different about it. It was just real friendship shit. It came about naturally, so it’s crazy that everybody’s blowing up now. That shit is wild. That doesn’t happen all of the time. Even Two-9. Shout out to those guys too. We all grew up together, since like 18.
You guys worked with Travis Scott on “Sloppy Toppy.” What’s it like working with Travis and what did you guys get from that experience?
1st: Before we actually worked with Travis, we had met a whole bunch of times through T.I. We were working with T.I. in Atlanta and, of course, he was at the time. So, we just started linking up. There wasn’t too much talking at first. We didn’t really know each other. We were trying to catch that vibe. We made about three or four songs before “Sloppy Toppy” and “Drugs You Should Try.” I don’t know if anyone has heard them. They might be on our SoundCloud. But, yeah, he’s cool. He can pick up shit fast. He’s a very talented guy. I fuck with the Rodeo project.
We lived with Travis for a month, actually. We lived with him, Sonny Digital, and Metro Boomin at Travis’ house in L.A. while we were cooking up new stuff for an album. We made hundreds of beats at his house. We were working and partying and shit. We created a vibe there too. We’ve got some stuff coming out with him. One of the songs actually might be on the Mad Decent project that we’re releasing. It’s produced by us, Travis, and Sonny Digital.
Who are some artists that you haven’t worked with that you would like to going forward?
1st: I’m forcing Diplo to link us up with M.I.A. because she’s amazing and I’ve always wanted to work with her. She’s fucking amazing. I know for sure that we’re going to be working with Kanye. Some shit happened the other day, but I don’t know. I’m not going to say anything, but some shit is about to happen. I definitely want to work with Drake. We worked with Wayne on the song “Fuck You All the Time” that we did with Jeremih, but I want to do a whole project with Wayne and Rick Ross. Truthfully, we like working with new people. New artists are the greatest thing ever because they’re a blank canvas and you can paint it how you see it. Of course, we work with established people, but working with established people sucks sometimes because they have too many rules and the circle is smaller, so when you make a beat or write something someone is automatically going to hop on it. Everyone starts saying, “I did this. I did that.” Fuck that shit. That shit is wack. Y’all can keep it. We don’t even care about working with established artists really. We’ll do it because you have to make the bread, but fuck that. It’s the new dudes. You can always create something cool with the new dudes.
Have you had problems getting credited in the past?
1st: Yeah. We had that problem with Iggy. At the time, we were unestablished producers. T.I. and I actually had a conversation about that. He was like, “Damn, bro. I didn’t know you felt some type of way.” So I definitely feel like I should have been a millionaire already. But it’s fine. I understand the way that the world works. You just have to create your own circles. So that’s what we’re going to do. We’re in a place where we’re smarter and wiser. We’re about to take over.
Does Post have a project coming?
1st: The “White Iverson” project will be out and that shit is amazing. Homie can sing. I know for sure that we’re going to blow people’s minds. Label peoples’ brains melted when they heard it. They did not expect that shit. It’ll probably be out some time in late May. He’s wrapping up the “White Iverson” video and all that. That shit’s amazing because I’ve been working with him from the start. I’ve always believed in that kid.
What do you guys feel about the whole Young Thug-Lil Wayne situation?
1st: Lil Wayne needs to ignore that nigga. That’s no shade to Young Thug. I fuck with Young Thug. But Lil Wayne is one of the best rappers alive. He needs to stop worrying about these niggas. That’s what I would tell him if I met him.
Rich: Ignore that little nigga and make some hard ass songs with a hard ass producer.
1st: He needs to start his own label and put out his own label. I understand contracts and all that, but he needs to ignore that nigga and put out his own shit. He needs to leave the country with us, lock himself in the studio, turn off his phone, and make some hard ass shit without worrying about anybody else.
Are you guys ever going to bring the FKi family to another major label?
1st: No, man.You’ve got to get the money while you’re hot. Do everything while you’re hot. You can’t control shit so you’ve got to get it while you’re hot. We’re going to do this shit independently for as long as possible. When the time comes for the big, big checks, of course I’m going to take it. I’m not a fool.