Photo Credit: James DeFina/Definate Films

FKiForXXL

What do Post Malone's "White Iverson," 2 Chainz's "Watch Out," Zuse's "On God" and Travi$ Scott's "Sloppy Toppy" all have in common? They are produced by FKi, the production duo that consists of 1st and Rich (a.k.a. SauceLordRich). These two guys from Atlanta have been making beats for some of the biggest names and brightest new faces in hip-hop over the last couple of years while keeping in the shadows as better-known ATLiens like London On Da Track, Metro Boomin and Southside take the spotlight.

But that's not because they're new to the scene. The 25-year-olds grew up together and enjoyed their first breakout hit in 2010 with Travis Porter's "Make It Rain." Since then, they have worked with everyone from T.I. to 2 Chainz to Iggy Azalea as well as providing the backbone for a string of new artists like Post Malone and Zuse. As their buzz continues to grow, XXL got 1st from FKi on the phone to talk about he projects the duo is working on, his solo debut titled First Time For Everything, Diplo's influence on their production and Post Malone's debut project. —Emmanuel C.M.

Photo Credit: James DeFina/Definate Films

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XXL: What are you guys working on? I feel like I've seen your production credits on everything lately.
1st of FKi: Right now, we working on a little bit of everything. Post Malone, of course, we’ve been cooking all that up [from] the beginning and just finishing it and making that perfect. 2 Chainz too, we’ve been working on 2 Chainz’s album even though he’s going to be releasing a couple of projects, I believe a mixtape first. We worked on that, too, but the main thing is his album. We’ve been cooking up for that over the past year or so.

Travi$ Scott, we working on his album; his album Rodeo is amazing. I also have been working on my first project, First Time For Everything. That shit is amazing. I have Makonnen on there, [OG] Maco, Key!, really all my Atlanta people with production from Diplo to FKi, and that’s coming out through Mad Decent in the next month of so. We working with Mac Miller, too, Lil Uzi Vert. Everybody been coming through the spot, jumping on my project, working on their project. It’s just been fun. Everything that has to do with music, we’ve been in that shit. [Laughs] We just trying to change everybody’s listening preference.

I feel like you guys are becoming the “it” producers right now. How do you make time for everything?
I don’t. I wish we had [more]. Truthfully, there are not enough hours in the day, bruh. Every time we get finished with one thing there’s something else. But I cannot fucking complain, bro. Only time I get sleep is on the fucking plane, man. We work all day. We always want to do it our way, man.

What’s up with Post Malone? When can fans expect a project?
Post, I’m like his irresponsible older brother. We’ve been working on his project ever since “White Iverson” came out [in February]. So it’s been about six, seven months in all. We’re just vibing and seeing what we want to really do. We don’t know exactly what day we want to drop it. We were thinking about July 4 since it's his birthday, but we just shot the “White Iverson” video and the “Too Young” video so we’re going to use those to support everything 'cause right now people are just referencing seeing him more on YouTube. But we finally got those two things. Our label, Zooly The Label, is finally official. That’s all coming together. But with Post, the shit is amazing because there’s so many different aspects to it; guitar, a little folk, but it still booming though. He wants to release it bad, bruh. He wants to release it right here, right now. We’re just fine-tuning it.

Is your label under anyone else? Signed to somewhere?
Nah, it’s just Zooly The Label. Right now, we’re thinking about imprints and who we’re going to go through. But right now we’re doing everything ourselves, which is a lot of hard fucking work. But you got to stick to it. Right now it’s just us and a couple of friends, we’ve just been putting our heads together and making magic. That’s really the best way from the beginning; that’s how you know how your team is supposed to be. When there’s no money at first and just teamwork you start working and putting your heads together and we all believe in one thing. So now it’s at a point to where shit coming through. Let the money drop in, let the music drop in and really figure this out. We just stick together and duke it out the whole way through. Zooly is the label, like I said; it's all fun, but it’s time.

Photo Credit: James DeFina/Definate Films

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Tell me what you got cooking with 2 Chainz.
He makes so many fucking songs, bruh, he really makes like three songs a night. There are so many songs to choose from. We have been working, Honorable C.N.O.T.E., and me, we just been cooking up every time he’s in L.A. I can’t give too much, but he linked us up with another huge dope producer for a couple of the tracks. I don’t know if he’ll kill me or not, but he linked us up with one of my dream producers, so that’s really coming together. 2 Chainz, I definitely learned a lot from him, especially on the work ethic. He does not sleep. He just works all day and all night. I’m really excited about this project.

I loved your production on Travi$ Scott's Days Before Rodeo. How does Rodeo sound?
I'd say amazing. He teamed all of his best people up to make a project. Me, Metro [Boomin], Sonny Digital, everybody just in a house just working with all these dudes, with all the hottest producers and artists in one place, can you really fuck that up? The shit is epic. It’s like everything is like “3500” on crack. Everything goes so hard.

How did you and Diplo link up?
We met when I was working on Travis Porter’s “Make It Rain.” He came through Atlanta and met one of my friends and heard our song and thought the track went hard. He invited us to the studio in Atlanta and he was so cool. I always looked up to him; he’s like my idol. He taught me about collaborating and building your own shit, he taught me so many tricks. First time I ever met him he taught me something. He made everything so cool. He DJ’d like a random small club in Atlanta. That’s a real humble dude. I fuck with him for life. I looked up to his shit. Since four, five, six years ago, since we made “Make It Rain,” we’ve been cool since. He’s always showed me some new shit and put me on to new artists. Through him I met Mac Miller.

What did you guys make with Mac Miller?
That shit is hard, bruh. It’s a little different, but not too different from what you heard from Mac. He’s a real cool dude. We kind of think the same, so it was nothing for us to really think of and spread ideas. He’s a real laid back, cool dude and he’s been working really hard, too. We linked up at Coachella, so that was really cool. We worked with him for about five songs. He went straight to the booth, freestyled. Of course I knew of Mac Miller, but until I worked with him [I didn't know] Mac is nice and really dope. We did a track that’s going to be one of the first ones coming out that’s a real feel good track.

How would you describe your sound?
Sound is laid back but hittin’, it’s hittin’, bro. All the songs in 808s... We don’t want to bust up the speakers in your car. I feel like our generation need, like, the real 808s. Everybody use them these days. Before they were in pop songs, but now everybody is fucking doing it. So smooth laid back and it’s hittin’ man. [Laughs]

Photo Credit: James DeFina/Definate Films

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A lot of new artists FKi work with, like Post Malone, Zuse and those guys, are buzzing. Is there someone that’s not yet on the scene that y’all are working with?
Zuse is definitely going to be one of the biggest music artists in the world. We’re still crafting his style and fine-tuning it. He has so many different elements, from being from Jamaica; he has so many different elements he can use. He can really sing, too. Right now he’s putting out music and just becoming comfortable. He’s so dope. He came out to L.A. from Atlanta and we linked up [in a] real private studio. We were out there just really crafting his sound. All the new music we’ve been working on, there isn’t any word to describe it. He’s a real deep and sensitive dude; not in a bad way, in a good way. He really has a lot of passion for his music. There’s so much to tell through his story, so we’ll eventually pile that out and do a grand opening of Zuse. I’m really excited about this. Everything you hear from him is real. We just want to put it all together and make sure it has replay value.

That’s my thing. I feel like with “White Iverson,” you can put that shit on repeat. That’s what we want to do with everybody. That’s like our sound when its fully crafted; we know exactly what we want to do now and we know exactly how to do the job and how to get it done. You got to live with an artist. Any artist you work with you have to live with them. I live with Post, I live with Zuse, I lived with Iggy too before she fully popped. Living with an artist, it doesn’t have to happen, but for them to fully get you and have a good future, you have to spend a lot of time together. That whole factor of really being together and cooking up day by day and understanding each other. Because sometimes going into the studio with a random person, every now and then you’ll get something. But it’s really about knowing somebody. That’s my main thing. If I meet an artist, I don’t put them through a test, but I see them around other artists and see how they act.

Tell me about individual projects you and Rich are working on?
My project is called First Time For Everything and his project is called Know Me and we just been working on it for the past six months to a year. It’s really no difference with what we been doing. I literally cook up a beat, maybe put a hook on it or a verse, he’ll walk in, Makonnen, Maco, Post. Anybody. We’ve all been making music and been around each other. That’s the thing about really living and staying with each other. Even Maco, we all stayed in the same studio in Atlanta. But First Time For Everything, it really is. I’m 1st, and I just want everybody to get a little taste of what I’m doing. I like music to speak for itself because there’s only so much I can say. But all of my friends are apart of it and we’ve been all working so hard.

All of these artists, I know them, so it's not really tough for us to make a song. There may be outside [people] looking in and thinking we just produce, but we been doing this. I just finally put it in body of work. And we’re going to release it through Mad Decent. I’m also going to release the Diplo and Friends mix really, really soon. First Time For Everything is going to take your brain on the trip and fans are going to hear some new things.

What is the one thing you want to accomplish and the one thing you're looking forward to put out this year?
I’m excited for First Time For Everything because I put so much work into it and so many people helped me with it and I’m grateful. Also, Post Malone's project—everybody's waiting for it, they’re curious on what it’s going to be. Those are two things I’m really excited for, even though I love everything that we do.