Chances are at least one song you’ve had #ONREPEAT (or quoted to caption an Instagram photo or two) in the last year was produced by 24-year-old Michael Len Williams II. Known to his fans and collaborators as Mike WiLL Made It, with an audio tag that’s hard to miss, the Atlanta-based producer has become a go-to in the hip-hop world, helping craft hits for everyone from Kanye West to Miley Cyrus in the last 18 months.
With work on big time releases like Magna Carta… Holy Grail, WiLL can no longer be considered an up-and-comer; a high-profile entourage, increased media attention, and overwhelmingly positive responses to his beats (even Justin Timberlake can’t stop singing “Bandz A Make Her Dance”) have him hurtling towards the mainstream. To better understand the man who started out by hanging around his local recording studio, and now considers fellow ATL residents Gucci Mane, Future, and 2 Chainz great friends, read our helpful talking points below.
1. HE IS TEAM MILEY
“Me and Miley just clicked,” WiLL told Billboard this summer of his “We Can’t Stop” artist. “She has good ideas. She’s real creative. Her whole thing is she’s getting older so her sound is evolving, but she doesn’t want to reach too far. ’We Can’t Stop’ has so many different vibes to it. She sounds country; the beat has these live, knocking drums; and then it has these pop melodies. It’s a feel-good record.” High praise for the man who initially made the track with Rihanna in mind. And their relationship has progressed beyond just one summer jam: WiLL is executive producer of Miley’s Bangerz, out October 8.
2. HE’S NO LONGER INTERESTED IN STAYING BEHIND THE SCENES
But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be rapping. As a producer, WiLL has had a hand in hits for major acts like Jay Z, with rumored credits on upcoming releases from Britney Spears and Drake. His label, Eardruma Records, recently signed with Interscope, and his debut album Est. in 1989, Part 3, is highly anticipated. He’s giving us a taste via single “23,” which features Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa, and Miley Cyrus (rapping!) along with some seriously sexy art.
3. HE’S PART OF THE GOSSIP MACHINE
Considered one of the more fun collaborators to work with, WiLL creates masterful anthems destined for the club. And after posing on red carpets with his No. 1 artist, constant gushing in their respective interviews, and one broken engagement, rumors are flying that Miley and WiLL have more than just a professional relationship. “That’s a dope rumor,” Will told Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club. “That’s really what happens when you put two fly individuals together: they spend a lot of time together.”
4. HE’S A SNEAKERHEAD
Home team allegiance aside, WiLL wouldn’t be the first ’80s baby to profess his love for Michael Jordan. But single “23” is more of an homage to MJ’s classic shoe than his athletic achievements. “I like collecting Jordans; I’ve always been a sneakerhead,” he told Angela Yee and Co yesterday. “And 23 is just a dope number. My birthday is on the 23rd, when I turned 23 it was like no looking back.” You don’t have to explain a fascination with a certain number to us, MW. (Beyoncé’s already paved the way for that.) Also if you’d like him to make a beat for you, it probably wouldn’t hurt to bring along some fresh kicks.
5. HE’S AN UNAPOLOGETIC MILLENNIAL WHO LIKES WHAT HE LIKES
One of the greatest things about today’s music are the blurred lines when it comes to genre. For those who believe Artist X should remain in Genre Y hearing trap lord Juicy J alongside California Gurl Katy Perry can be frustrating, but for those who enjoy good beats from strong performers who know how to put on a show, it doesn’t matter. “A lot of times, older people don’t get the new generation,” Will tells Complex. “The new generation will listen to a pop song, a hard ass hood song, and come back and listen to another pop song. ’23’ is a representation of that and for those people.” He’s also prepared to defend those who question his affiliation with a former Disney star, even if Miley hasn’t been quite like Hannah Montana for a long time.
And then there’s the music. WiLL has yet to make a song we don’t like. (Hearing his intro is enough.) Listen to some of his biggest hits below.
[Photo Credit: @mikewillmadeit, Getty Images]