The super producer is dead. At the close of the aughts, after a decade that saw music sales dwindle and the industry’s tried-and-true hitmaking machines cool considerably, that was the consensus opinion. But then: “Tupac Back.” “Turn On The Lights.” “Mercy.” “No Lie.” “Bandz A Make Her Dance.” “Pour It Up.” “We Still In This Bitch.” “Love Me.” “Bugatti.” “Body Party.” “We Can’t Stop.” “23.” Against all odds, a producer came in and shook things up like never before, an historic run that includes no less than 14 Billboard-charting singles since 2012 and over 10 million singles sold in 2013 alone.
That producer is Mike WiLL Made-It, who, at only 25 years old, has produced for some of music’s biggest names, a list that includes Jay Z, Kanye West, Rihanna, Drake, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Kelly Rowland, Jeezy, Wiz Khalifa, B.o.B., T.I. and ScHoolboy Q, among others. He provided star-making singles for Future and 2 Chainz, and comeback singles for Juicy J and Ciara; he scored a Nike Basketball commercial starring LeBron James; he executive produced Miley Cyrus’ breakout 2013 album, Bangerz, which debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart and has since been certified platinum; he released his own debut single, “23,” which features Miley Cyrus, Wiz Khalifa, and Juicy J, selling over 2 million copies and amassing more than 230 million views on VEVO; he’s executive producing Future’s anticipated sophomore album, Honest; his own groundbreaking Est. In 1989 mixtape series has driven millions of downloads via the popular mixtape site LiveMixtapes; and he’s inked a deal with Interscope Records, launching his own label, Ear Drummer Records, with plans to release not only his debut album, Est. In 1989 Pt. 3, in 2015 but also introduce his own roster of artists to the world.
Born Michael Len Williams II and raised in Marietta, Georgia, for Mike WiLL Made-It, the only member of his family born in Georgia (the majority of his family hails from Ohio), music was a family affair from a young age: His mother toured and performed with legendary gospel singer Dottie Peoples; his father, a former DJ, had an extensive record collection and schooled Mike on the science of music, explaining pan effects and more; and Mike’s Uncle, Al, also a musician, not only fostered Mike’s love for production, but also a sense of pride in accomplishment that comes from perseverance, individuality, and developing one’s own identity. “It’s because of him that I do things the way I do,” explains Mike of his uncle’s influence. “I take the road less traveled. I pride myself on that, and I’ve been like that since I first got started.”
At 17, after discovering a knack for production and melody in his early teens, Mike WiLL’s tireless work ethic led to a chance meeting with Gucci Mane at Patchwerk Recording Studios. The two developed a quick chemistry, and Mike produced a number of songs now considered hometown classics for the Atlanta rapper - it was Gucci’s “Star Status Freestyle,” and the lyric “Mike WiLL made it, Gucci Mane slayed it,” that gave the young producer his now-famous moniker (and, eventually, his infectious producer tag). The foundation of success that Mike WiLL built producing for Gucci and others drove Mike to continue to beat his own path, turning down attractive production deals - deals that others would have been quick to sign - to instead establish and grow his own production company, Eardrummers Entertainment. And he hasn’t looked back since. Mike WiLL has continued to blaze trails, not only achieving unprecedented success as one of music’s most gifted and prolific producers, but also as one of music’s most talented executives and visionaries, a path he continues to travel with the founding of his new label, Ear Drummer Records, and a deal he’s struck for the label with Interscope Records.
It’s an unprecedented run, but it’s safe to say - and almost scary to imagine - that the future for Mike WiLL Made-It is even brighter than the past. To close 2014, Mike WiLL is releasing his long-awaited mixtape Ransom, his first release containing all new, exclusive music, and he plans to deliver his debut album, Est. In 1989 Pt. 3, along with an instrumental EP, Fuck Verses, in 2015. He’s also signed and introduced the first act from Ear Drummer Records, Rae Sremmurd, and the duo had truly a breakout year, with the group’s first two singles, “No Flex Zone” and “No Type” breaking into the Top 40 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, peaking at numbers 36 and 16, respectively, while “No Type” reached number one at urban radio, all leading up to the scheduled January 6, 2015, release of Rae Sremmurd’s official debut album, SremmLife. Beyond that, WiLL is already doing more work to score commercials, in addition to writing, developing, and scoring films, including projects in the works with some of Hollywood’s largest movie studios. Whatever it is that he decides to do next, it’s safe to say that for a young man who’s always focused on creating his own lane, his next move will be the one that no one else saw coming.
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