In the dimly lit studio in a nondescript industrial building in North Hollywood, CA, the air is pungent and the mood is elevated. Songwriter/producer/artist and DJ FKi 1st, just in from Las Vegas, has a rare day off from Fetty Wap’s “Welcome to the Zoo” tour where his DJ set opens the show for Post Malone. FKi 1st is a songwriter and producer on “White Iverson,” Malone’s platinum single, and while traveling on tour is working with the artist on his full-length debut.
With “Make it Rain” for Travis Porter; “Watch Out” by 2 Chainz; “I Think She’s Ready” by Iggy Azalea; “Missionary” by Ty Dolla $ign and “Weekend” featuring Miguel with Mac Miller, FKi 1st is riding on a string of notable cuts as a writer and producer. He says that when he first met Post Malone the artist was exclusively a rapper. “He thought that would be the only thing that I liked. His dad came to my house in L.A. and showed me a video of him playing guitar and singing. I can see the best in artists and what their strengths are. It makes everything easier. I said, ‘Bring it out, and let it go.’ The song ‘White Iverson’ came two songs after that.”
From Atlanta, FKi 1st (whose given name is Trocon Markous Roberts, Jr.) was first inspired by the funk, especially the cosmic concoctions of George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic. “I used to DJ for my parents’ parties in the basement. I would sneak George Clinton on and wonder, ‘Why is it when I play this song everybody moves?’ I wanted to do the same thing.” From DJing, FKi 1st learned a fundamental lesson. “When the song starts it has to get people’s attention.”
Growing up, FKi 1st says that he wasn’t a particularly diligent student. “Here’s the thing: since eighth or ninth grade I knew what I was going to be doing. I’m a prophet. I can see the future. I told my teachers, ‘This is pointless. I know what I am going to be doing.’ It was the craziest shi*. It took a long time, but I saw all of what is happening now.”
Prophet or not, FKi 1st says his parents weren’t entirely convinced and encouraged him to continue his education. He had seen ads for the school in recording magazines, so he enrolled in Full Sail Recording Academy in Florida. After completing his studies, he returned home to Atlanta. “I started sleeping in studios––anywhere that had a mic and speakers. I had to be around that shi* every single day.”
FKi 1st has headquarters in both Los Angeles and Atlanta. “The cool thing about Atlanta is that the radio stations can play anything they like. If you have a hot song you can catch the DJ at a club. Your song can come on and if they like it the next day they can play it on the air in a mix show. Strip clubs are good places to play new songs too. Everybody goes to the strip club, all ages and races. L.A. is cool too, but there is just so much here. You have to know where you come from. I have to go back and recharge my Atlanta batteries.”
In addition to writing and producing, FKi 1st is also recording what he envisions as a series of EPs to showcase his own artistry. The project is slated for release on the Mad Decent label founded by the marquee DJ, producer and artist Diplo. The two met in Atlanta when Diplo was DJing in a small club. “He showed me you can be down to earth, humble and very rich,” laughs FKi 1st.
In order to write and produce for artists, FKi 1st says that proximity is key. “You have to live with them,” he asserts. “I like being comfortable and making friends with the people I’m working with.” He also believes that a connection to knowledge from a variety of influences is essential. “Every single person who does music––from Mozart to Dr. Dre––is a teacher. Listen, learn and incorporate those things and make them your own.”
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