This posse cut was partly inspired by the 96th Street subway station on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. "When you think about New York, you think about things like the subway, and I needed to bring it back to that essence," Rocky told MTV News. "[But] when I'm rapping and mentioning 'anything is better than that 1 train,' it's the truth. When it's winter, it's cold in the station - especially on 96th Street, you're waiting for hours because more than likely the 2 and 3 are running the most, and the 1 and 9 are taking the longest."
The song features Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Yelawolf, Danny Brown, Action Bronson and Big K.R.I.T. "I wanted to make a posse cut that felt like an original '90s underground track, and I didn't have to tell anyone what to do," Rocky told MTV News.
Rocky put some thought into his choice of guest artists on the cut. "I took it upon myself to feature all the people who I respect as artists of my generation - Danny Brown, K.R.I.T, Yelawolf, Joey Bada$$, Action Bronson, Kendrick - I feel like they fit the criteria of the underground feel. I could've easily went and got Puff Daddy or Rick Ross, but I felt like this one needed the young feeling to it," he told MTV News. "And everybody came and ripped it in their own way. Nobody sounded alike, everybody took it back to the essence and they bodied it, executed it."
A couple of the posse ended up spitting 32 bars, though Rocky only requested 16. He told MTV News: "You know how some people got 16 bars and some people got, like, 32 bars? I didn't tell them to do that. They took it upon themselves to rap for like two verses. K.R.I.T. and Yelawolf did it. [I was like,] 'Damn, man, I told everybody 16 bars,' but it was so dope I couldn't cut it."
The track was produced by Chauncey "Hit-Boy" Hollis, who has also worked on tracks by the likes of Eminem, Justin Bieber, Lil Wayne and Rihanna. "The beat is self-explanatory - when you hear it, it just makes you wanna flow on some backpacker sh--," said Rocky.
Teenage rapper Joey Bada$$ throws in a mention during his rhymes of wanting to sign to Roc Nation and taking a meeting with Jay-Z: "Just got back to the block from a 6 o'clock with Jigga," he spits. "And I'm thinking 'bout signing to the Roc. But my niggas on the block still is signed to the rocks."
Asked by Rolling Stone how much of a competitive element there was for him with six other rappers on the cut, Rocky replied: "You gotta be competitive. As far as me, I laid my first verse with confidence, and everyone else went from there. Everyone spit in order. After I laid it down, we sent it to Kendrick, and then to Joey, and it went on down the line. We just wanted to make a posse cut that people would relate to."
Action Bronson pays homage to Susan Sarandon on his verse when he uses the Thelma & Louise actress' name as a euphemism for marijuana. He raps "You see us scramblin', sellin' Susan Sarandon. The cloud of smoke like the Phantom."
Sarandon responded to the shout out on Twitter, by replying: "Hey @asvpxrocky & @ActionBronson thx for the shout out on "1Train." Not sure what it means, but let's blaze one & talk about it some time."
Hit-Boy originally intended the instrumental for Drake's debut record Thank Me Later
but Dreezy turned it down as he felt it was too similar to his Jay-Z collaboration "Light Up
"I made the '1 Train' beat and I sent it to Drake. I was trying to get it on his first album," Hit-Boy recalled to Nadeska Alexis of Beats 1. "[Drake] was like, 'Man, I've already got something kind of on this vibe on the album,' which was the record he had with Hov."