Studio Session: FKi 1st’s ‘Good Gas’ Series Helps Put New Artists on the Map
At this point, all hip-hop fans know about and respect the impact that Atlanta has had on the hip-hop genre. The city has been on an incredible run that's lasted for quite some time and has survived through multiple eras. FKi, a duo made up of SauceLord Rich and FKi 1st, is one of the more storied production teams from the city. They got in on the ground floor to help propel three-man Georgia rap group Travis Porter, thanks to producing "Make It Rain," "Bring It Back" and "Ayy Ladies"—early 2010s songs that dominated clubs from coast to coast.
This early success got FKi on the radar of Gucci Mane, Ludacris, Waka Flocka Flame, 2 Chainz and many other hip-hop stars. While they still work together, FKi 1st branched off to work with the likes of Travis Scott, Ty Dolla $ign and one of his biggest successes, Post Malone.
With huge songs under his belt as a member of a duo (2 Chainz's "Watch Out") and as a solo producer (Post Malone's breakout hit, "White Iverson"), FKi 1st has had a very fruitful career. The latest chapter is Good Gas, a series of music releases intended to show off Fki's work with a range of rising acts.
Fresh off the release of his EP Good Gas, Vol. 3, 1st sat down with XXL to discuss his past, present and future as a talented and highly respected producer.
XXL: How did you first start producing?
FKi 1st: I think I saw a Timbaland music video back to back with a Three 6 Mafia video, like random, and I'm just like, "I want to know how the fuck they did that." Both sounds stood out. They're not the same. I knew they were both from the South, so that stuck to me. But I just had to figure out how to do it. It might have been Three 6 Mafia “Who Run It” or something, randomly, I don't know. And then for Timbaland it was “Is That Your Chick” by Jay-Z and Missy.
Wow. Those are two crazy beats.
And I'm like, "Bro, what the fuck, bro? I gotta get in the running for this. I gotta figure it out." I was young as fuck, like seventh grade. My parents always used to play George Clinton, funk shit. We had every record in the basement, but George Clinton stuck out because I knew when I played that all the old people would move. Like, "Oh, shit. You can control people." That's when I figured out you can run shit with music, control people's vibes and shit.
Once you began producing, how did you develop your own sound?
I created my own sound attempting to be Timbaland, because all his sounds were so crazy. Zaytoven, too. For example, Gucci Mane—one of his first crazy mixtapes that he made was with Zaytoven, called Ice Attack. It was something new and fresh that I'd never heard before. I always try to remember feelings when I first heard something. I always want to have that feeling.
What was your first big placement as a part of FKi?
The biggest one we did together was “Watch Out” [by] 2 Chainz. I made that song on my birthday in L.A.. If you make music, make music on your birthday. Don't go out and get drunk and wasted.
You're in a special space.
You're in a special space, you got energy. I always make shit on my birthday. [SauceLord] Rich had just sent me the little piano thing and I threw the drums on that. 2 Chainz went in and freestyled that whole shit. Right when he said, "All my niggas balling, all my niggas athletic." I'm like, "Nigga, that's hard. We got it, I'm feeling it." Then the beat drops. I never used that drum again with him. That beat drop was amazing.
What was your biggest placement by yourself as a solo producer?
It's crazy we have to say this: Kids don't do stuff just for the money. I'm not going to say it was a regret [but] right after we made "Make It Rain," I went to the studio with Waka and Gucci. We made the hardest song ever. Then right after, I went to the studio with Ludacris. Waka was hot, burning hot at the time, steaming hot. Ludacris offered me 20 bands for the beat. I'm like, "What, bro? 20 bands for a fucking beat?" I did it, but the song just ended up being him and Waka. Sometimes I feel like if it was just the Waka and Gucci song, it would've been a classic till this day.
What was the Ludacris song?
"Rich & Flexing." It was originally just Gucci and Waka, which was the hardest shit ever. But I followed the money, yo.
How do you decide who to work with?
Bro, that energy shit is real. I feel like I can be an even bigger producer if I just worked with everybody. I just like having special moments. I don't like giving out, like, "Hey, you random guy, let's work for some money." I don't even really like that shit.
How did you build your relationship with Post Malone?
I was just being a nomad. I was in L.A. My engineer who I work with now, he's like, "Yo, I know this White kid that can rap." He wasn't even singing at the time—it was all fashion rap. He was a swag rapper. I didn't even hear the country shit. But then I met his dad. His dad was like, "You know he could sing, right?" I'm like, "Oh shit, let's do that." One day, we was chilling in L.A., some bitches came over. One of these Black girls braided his hair. A nigga felt like White Iverson. He was feeling it. He got turnt-up, feeling himself. And then, “White Iverson.” Bam, just like that.
Did you know “White Iverson” was going to blow up the way it did?
Yeah. I just didn't know how big it was. We knew that shit was hard, though.
How did "White Iverson" affect your career?
It showed that I could work with people from scratch. Before that, it was Travis Porter. I worked with Tyga real early, too. We got the song called "M.O.E." I'm on the hook and everything. He didn't put me on there though, that bastard. I guess I just wasn't as hot at the time.
What was the process like executive producing Stoney for Post Malone?
He was on his cowboy-type shit, but we still wanted to make it appeal to everybody. It was crazy. We had this board on the studio, it was his project and my project, and we were going to try and shoot video. This was before the shit popped off. We were going to just shoot videos that intertwined with each other. So, we had two projects on the wall. I have a cool picture of it, too, of his whole project. It was probably almost fully Stoney. Before he got signed, the songs were already done. Before "White Iverson" came out, half of Stoney was done. We just added four more songs.
Famous Dex’s "Pick It Up" has gone platinum now. What do you remember about working on that?
Famous Dex has energy. He might be a little too lit sometimes, but it's all good. I fuck with his energy; it's real good in the studio. He's a real nice kid. He pulled up to a spot in L.A. and we all linked up. Rich, the other half of FKi, made a song with Famous Dex first. It was called “Huh.” He was still going up after that, but then we linked up again in L.A. and he originally rapped to just the drums. I'm like, "Damn, I don't want this to be like another trap song—just the same song with hard drums. So, I was just going through samples and found the perfect sample to break up the same song.
When did you connect with Travis Scott? Was it Days Before Rodeo?
I think we might have some songs before that, but Days Before was the first thing. I was in the studio with T.I. and T.I. was like, "Yo, meet Travis." I'm like, "Whoa. This dude is cool." Kind of weird. Because he's kind of quiet at times. I was like, let's see how this works. We made the “Sloppy Toppy” beat together. I had a crazy sample already playing and he started saying some shit about sloppy toppy. And then he liked up with Migos two or three days later. It was Peewee Longway, Migos and Travis Scott. He got them on it, but I never heard the song until the project came out.
The top of last year, I randomly just hit [Travis] like, "Bro, we got to link back up. I've got some new shit." He told me to pull up to his house. We ended up mingling in the studio and that's when we made "5% Tint" and "R.I.P. Screw." When I heard [the album version of "R.I.P. Screw"], I did not know that was Swae Lee.
How did your Good Gas series come together?
Me and my homies have been saying Good Gas for like 10 years. It's been a fake record label. We were acting like we were Cash Money and it'd be like, "Yeah, Good Gas, the label, bro. Yeah, you know what it is. He got that gas!" And we always freestyled. Then one day I'm like, "Wait. Good Gas can be real. What am I doing?" It was just a joke, but it could be real. I make so much music with so many different fire artists. I'm like, I want to make a platform to get new artists out and establish artists. Just make some new music, random shit.
So, you're up to Good Gas, Vol. 3 now.
Yeah. We going to volume 50.
On Vol. 3, songs like “Do The Dash” and “We All We Got” are dope but so different. How do you pull that off?
Good Gas, I feel like it's Atlanta-inspired. The beats are kind of different in “Do the Dash” and “We All We Got,” but it's all Atlanta artists. Lil Gotit, Lil Reek—the Atlanta drip is in there. I just want to keep connecting artists that never made a song together before. Just have that platform. You got to help the new artists. You got to help them move and get it going. It's not that easy out here.
Who have you been in the studio with recently?
I have been in the studio by myself, really, like a fucking mad man. I made a movie in Tokyo called Tokyo, The Movie. It's just some original songs and visuals. I had to get away really quick. So, I ran to Tokyo because I was little depressed. Some bullshit happened. Kind of in a relationship, kind of not in a relationship. Just figuring things out. And I went to Tokyo and I got to express everything I wanted to express. If you're in a complicated relationship or just a complicated time in your life, [it's] something for you to ride to. I've been working with this [Latin] artist; his name is Ratcheton. He's from L.A. I'm still producing. It won't stop.
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