Steven "Sauce Lord Rich" Bolden is an Atlanta producer best known as one half of the acclaimed production/song writing team, FKI, which he co-founded with his partner, 1st Down, after both received degrees for audio engineering at Full Sail Recording University. Collectively, they are responsible for an impressive string of hits that include “Make It Rain” and Bring It Back” for the southern rap group, Travis Porter. They have also produced brilliant tracks for Juicy J, T.I., YG, Travis Scott and Iggy Azalea’s Trapgold mixtape.
Their style and mass appeal is difficult to pinpoint to any one fanbase because they blend a heady mix of hip hop, drum and bass, trap and glitch hop.
In 2014, they discovered a young rapper named Post Malone, who they knew had a brilliant voice and mad talent. One night while they were camped out in the studio, Post dropped a track that would turn into “White Iverson.” After FKI put their magic touch on it and released it on Soundcloud, it generated over a million plays in 3 weeks. Later that year, Billboard listed them as one of the Top 5 rap producers of 2014.
We asked Sauce Lord Rich to take us through the colorful history that brought him to the enviable position he now holds in the rap and hip hop production world.
So can you take us back to your roots and how you got started in the business?
Originally, I was born and raised in New York City. I was between Harlem and the Bronx. Both my grandparents were living in Harlem and the Bronx so I had to go back and forth. My dad was locked up since my first birthday. So I mean it was really my grandparents at this time because my mom was working like triple shifts.
But then we moved to New Jersey and everything changed.
My step brother, his family was a part of creating hip hop, I can say that. Sylvia Robinson and Joe Robinson, they started Sugarhill records, Sugarhill Gang and all of this. They wrote The Message for Kurtis Blow. So now I’m walking into million dollar houses, coming from the projects. You know what I mean this is like my new life.
"These people were like set from music. So it just gave me a fire like, ‘this is what I want to do.’"
It’s hard to just fully name drop but recent things was like the Post Malone things you know, Watch out Lil Bitch for 2 Chainz. OG Kush Died. Recently we're working on PnB Rock’s album right now. But you know we are behind a lot of different sounds from Atlanta and creating a lot of different people.
So how do you use the studio as your instrument?
Since I was younger like I come here probably at 10 AM and I leave by 10PM. I made this a job I've been doing since I was 15 years old. I've never changed. This is my get away. Yeah, I go home and you got to pay bills. You got to do certain things.You might have to go places you don’t even want to go. But I've never not wanted to come here. The studio changed my life. I've done a lot of different things and tried to do things.
"This is the one thing that I didn't quit. I tried to do sports. I played baseball. I played soccer, basketball. Quit, quit, quit. And my parents were just like, ‘You just quit everything.’"
But this is the one thing I ever got right here. And I’ve seen what it did for people. Like people who live in mansions, driving Rolls-Royces and I'm like, ‘Oh no, I'm not quitting this, right. Like if you really love music it's not a job. You can treat it like a job but for me it's not a job because I would do it for free. I would do it for the knowledge. I won't just do it for money. So once you start making money it's a cool thing. But I love music in general. This is my outlet.
When did you know you were going to be a musician?
I think I knew the day that I went to my step mom because I was done with high school. Then I heard about this recording school, Full Sail and I knew I was going to go there. I needed a cosigner so I ran to her. I was like, ‘I filled out all the paperwork myself.’ I'd never fill out paperwork. And she cosigned for me right there.
"I knew that it was no turning back because somebody has already invested in what I'm about to do."
I didn't know how but I knew I was going to be a rapper or engineer one of these things that has something to do with music. I just kept trying to follow the steps that you would take to try to be better like going to Full Sail, getting a degree and learning about studio equipment. Then I got a gig as an intern. I mopped mad floors, cleaned parking lots.
How has the Eyeball influenced your art?
The first time I actually encountered the Kaotica Eyeball was when I was in L.A. I actually never saw it before. I just saw it sitting on a desk and my homie first had one. So I was like, What is this?
"He was just like, ‘you can basically use this record anywhere’. So everybody left the studio and I sat there and I recorded the whole song."
That song went to D.J. Suss One. It was on his radio show. I was just sitting at the board with my studio microphone recording with my Eyeball, my mobile vocal booth. But everybody was like it sounded so clean, they thought I cut it in like a super big studio. That was like my first encounter. Then I got back here. I was like talking about it. I didn't even know how to pronounce it at first. I was just like, This is amazing! But then we started getting them. I went and got one and now I've been using it ever since, out on the road and in my home music studio. It really sounds like you're recording in a real studio booth.
If you could take all the knowledge you have now what would you say to the younger version of you?
I would say to that younger man, It’s nice that you feel like quitting. And you think you can't do it or you can't reach the goals that you put out for yourself. I would just say don't quit. Nothing in life comes easy. But at the end of the day it's worth it when you really perform how you’re supposed to when you can do something for your mom or do something for your family or for music.
I've never had a regular job. When I was 19 I went to jail one time and my parents made me get a job and pretty much pay my probation. But other than that I've never had a job. I've been getting paid for music since I was probably 20, 21 years old. So I will say don't quit life and just believe in your own stuff. At the end of the day all it takes is a little work, a little work ethic and you'll push through.
"You'll see the light. You have to take that light and make it the brightest."
Then people start paying attention. I went from doing time all the way to sitting in this room working for myself. People ask me for things and want me to do things so. I mean I feel like you can do it too. Life for us is like a song I play all the time.