Producer FKi 1st Talks Diplo, Post Malone And 'The First Time For Everything'

Cameron Uranick
FKI 1st

For producer FKi 1st, it all began with a vision he experienced in ninth grade.

“I was in trouble with my parents because I did horrible in my classes,” FKi 1st recalls. “So I couldn’t go anywhere that summer. The only thing I could use was my computer -- and luckily a friend showed me how to make beats. I thought, ‘Yeah, I can do this.’”

And he’s indeed doing it. The former Sam’s Club cashier -- who also sometimes pulled cart duty (“That’s a whole other story,” he says with a laugh) -- co-wrote Post Malone’s breakthrough platinum debut “White Iverson,” which peaked at No. 5 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. Then he co-produced 2 Chainz’s “Watch Out” with his Atlanta-based FKi production team partner SauceLord Rich. “Watch Out” became the rapper’s 13th top 10 hit on Hot Rap Songs. FKi 1st’s latest credit: co-producing the track “Fade” featuring Post Malone & Ty Dolla $ign from Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo.

Currently on a sold-out tour with Fetty Wap and Malone -- which recently added a March 3 Los Angeles date at The Palladium -- FKI 1st (aka Marcus Roberts) is now ramping up the solo artist side of his career. The forthcoming First Time for Everything will be the first of three EP’s that FKi 1st is planning to release on his indie Zooly The Label through Diplo’s Mad Decent record company. FKi 1st and Diplo are also collaborating on several other upcoming projects, including the next Jack U album.

FKi 1st initially scored fan and chart attention in 2010 when he and Rich produced tracks for hip-hop trio Travis Porter (“Make It Rain,” “Bring It Back,” “Ayy Ladies”) under their FKi (F***ing Kicking It) banner. Garnering notices as game-changing producers in Atlanta rap, FKi has collaborated on songs for Iggy Azalea, Travi$ Scott (“Sloppy Toppy,” “I Can Tell Off”), Mac Miller, Ty Dolla $ign and T.I., among others. Now focusing on individual production and artist projects, 1st and Rich still collaborate on a case-by-case basis as in the case of 2 Chainz’s “Watch Out.”

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Of Azalea, for whom he co-wrote and co-produced the platinum-certified single “Work,” FKi 1st says, “After working on her first album, we’ve never really talked again. We were cool; I don’t have any hard feelings. Bigger things happened, so it’s all good.”

Among those bigger things: discovering Post Malone and finding a mentor in Diplo. “Something stuck out about him,” says FKi 1st of Malone, who asked the producer to move into his house and turn one of the rooms into a studio. “Then his dad showed me a video of Post singing and playing guitar,” continues FKi 1st. “We both made the beat for ‘White,’ put it on Soundcloud and let people take over. The people always know.”

He first met Diplo in 2011 when the DJ/producer played a club in Atlanta. “Diplo let me rap on a song,” remembers FKi 1st. “That’s really where our relationship began building. He’s taught me a lot of things and is the one who actually told me to record my own project.”

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According to his manager Jennifer Horton of Matrix Artists, FKi 1st plans to roll out the first of his three EPs in the spring. He describes his organic style as Atlanta trap “that goes left. You’re still going to get the bass and everything you love but with more melodic elements added on top to spread it out and make it genre-less. I make sure every song works without drums because then it can damn near go to any genre as long as the melody and topline are good … and you’re saying something too.”

In the meantime, FKi 1st is on the road opening with a DJ set for Post Malone on Fetty Wap’s Welcome to the Zoo tour. It wraps on March 25 in Cincinnati. But that isn’t stopping FKi 1st from working on his EPs and other projects, including Malone’s debut album. The tour bus is equipped with a studio, says the producer, “so I can just keep creating music.”