A few years ago if Mike Will would’ve said he’d be producing bangers for the likes of JAY Z, Rihanna, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Miley Cyrus he may have been called a little too ambitious, but he always knew just how dope he was and so did those around him. “I’ll never forget what Jeezy told me,” says Mike Will. “He said ‘You don’t think people like Kanye, people like JAY Z, people like Lil Wayne want to work with you? They know exactly who you are. You just got to keep grinding and next thing you know you’ll be in the studio with them.’” Continuing to grind is exactly what Mike Will did and like the words of true prophet Young Jeezy’s advice came to fruition. He’s since racked up single after single with some pop music’s biggest stars including Rihanna, Kanye West and Lil Wayne and even landed a coveted spot on JAY Z’s Magna Carta… Holy Grail, by producing “Beach Is Better.” The hard work is certainly paying off. Life+Times chopped it up with the chart-topping producer about what it was like hearing that JAY Z wanted his beats, his potential collaborative album with Future, and how Miley Cyrus’s current smash “We Can’t Stop” almost became a Rihanna record.
Life+Times: Congratulations. You’re all over the Billboard. You produced “Beach Is Better” on the Jay Z’s number one album Magna Carta… Holy Grail, “Body Party” on Ciara’s album, and you have a smash record with Miley Cyrus’s party anthem “We Can’t Stop.” How are you feeling right now?
Mike Will: It’s a blessing. Hard work pays off. It’s just great to see it all come out like that.
L+T: “We Can’t Stop” is a contender for song of the summer. Is it true that it was initially for Rihanna?
MW: Yeah, it was an idea for Rihanna. I did the track with Rihanna in mind, but I think it was a better fit for Miley. Rihanna never heard it though. She heard “Pour It Up” and she just did “Pour It Up.” I always feel like God works everything out and everything lines up how it’s suppose to be. Me sending that record to Rihanna and her not hearing it – it must’ve not been meant for her. You know what I’m saying? But “Pour It Up” was and it ended up going platinum. “We Can’t Stop” ended up going platinum for Miley, so it all worked itself out.
L+T: Speaking of Miley, her affinity for twerking has become the stuff of legend. Have you two created a “twerk anthem” for her album?
MW: Nah, we’re just doing music. She can really sing. She’s a real talented artist, so I think doing just a twerk song would put her in a box and limit her. I mean I guess she’s like the biggest pop artist to ever to a twerk video, but she just does it for fun. I don’t think she wants to hold the title for “Queen of Twerking” or anything, so it’s not like we’re reaching to create a twerk song. We’re seriously doing real songs on this album. “We Can’t Stop” is a great song, but there’s also like seven other songs on the album that don’t have the same feeling as “We Can’t Stop.” We’re not chasing any kind of fad or anything like twerking. It’s really real music. I feel like “We Can’t Stop” is a big song, but that’s where we started at. That was the first song we ever did, so it’s only going to get bigger from there. You know what I’m saying?
L+T: Some have argued that the era of the “super producer” is dead. That the Pharrells, Timbalands, Jermaine Dupris, etc were the last of the super producers. What are your thoughts on that?
MW: I was told when I first came in the game that the super producer is dead and that they’ll never be another [hit] by a super producer. I just do me and whatever title they put on they put on me. I just try to stand alone and not really try attached myself to any other producers. I just try to do my own thing. I don’t really shoot towards being a super producer or whatever producer that came before me. I just do my own thing and respect everybody and what they’re doing and what they have already done. I don’t even pay to too much attention any of my accolades. I just focus on making music.
L+T: You’ve been able to crossover or “go pop” without having to alter your sound. Whether it’s the Rihanna, Miley, Ciara, or Kelly Rowland – you know Mike Will Made It, so how does it feel knowing your sound is what everybody wants?
MW: It’s a blessing. That of course was the goal, but the shit happened so fast. It’s just a dope thing for it to go down like it’s been going down. I didn’t really know when it was going to pop off. I knew I had it, but people I was working with knew I had it too and might not have gave me the opportunity that I deserved or they may not have recognized what was right in front of them. From managers to artists – I was slept on for a good minute, but I just kept at it. Then I linked up with artists like Future and 2 Chainz and straight up grinded with them from out the mud and ended up doing both Future’s and 2 Chainz’s biggest records to date. I was also able to bring back one of my favorite rappers growing up, which was Juicy J. It’s just dope to see a sound that was well-crafted and a plan that was well-orchestrated just cut through the game within like one or two years. I’ve been doing this for like seven years, but when I came with my new plan and my new sound everything changed, so it’s just like why would I complain? Why switch the sound? I told people when I first was working with Gucci in like 2007. I had songs for everyone. I told them whoever they wanted records for I had records for. Just last week I was in the studio with Gucci working on his album and I’m damn near executive producing Miley Cyrus’s album, so it just all panned out. It was something that I always knew that I had. It was just waiting for everybody to notice it and accept it. You feel me? I might feel like something is something, but if the next person doesn’t get it then it’s nothing.
L+T: Speaking of Future, I’m pretty sure you’ve worked extensively on Future Hendrix. Is Future taking it to the next level with this album?
MW: Future is definitely on the next level. It’s time for Future to shine. It’s time for Future to cut through. I feel like Future is a superstar. I feel like he’s an A-list artist. He’s been putting his grind in and I feel like his time is right now. This is his moment. Me and him been spreading out our sound with different artists like Lil Wayne with “Love Me,” Ace Hood with “Bugatti” and Ciara and being able to bring her back with “Body Party” and it was the perfect time for us to do that, so with Future Hendrix, me and Future have already set a bar and our music is expected to be of a certain caliber. It’s definitely going to be something new that people haven’t heard from us. People might have not been ready for a record like “Turn on the Lights” from Future. It was such a great song, but timing is everything, so with records like that we’re just trying to make sure we continue to climb. With Future Hendrix that’s what we’re making sure we’re doing. We’re working on so much stuff. We’re working on his album, I’m working on my album and then we’re working on an album together that may come a little later. That’s no rush, but we’re really just working and continuing to build our catalogue like we were doing in the beginning. We just got to continue to move forward and continue to build up.
L+T: What was like hearing that JAY Z wanted to work with you?
MW: One day Big Jon called me and said JAY Z wanted me to send him some beats. Big Jon knew I didn’t send beats like that, so he flew me out to New York to work with Jay. I went out there for like a week and got to kick it with Jay. We vibed out. He let me hear the album and I played him a bunch of beats. Man, it was just a dope feeling. One thing about JAY Z is he’s a living legend. He’s been on top of the game for so long. Me growing up bumping albums like The Blueprint and then having the opportunity to work with him is such a dope feeling. It’s all part of my building process. It’s like what’s not to come at this point? You know what I’m saying? Now it’s just making sure the quality I there in the music and making sure I stand out. It was such a blessing to be on a record with so many great producers that everybody respects and everybody been loving for so long and then for me to have one of the joints that stand out to the point people are demanding a full version of it. It was just crazy.
L+T: You recently posted a picture of yourself and Andre 3000 in the studio. I’m pretty sure you can’t speak on it too much, but can you give us a little bit about what was happening during that session?
MW: I was just letting him hear some beats. We were just vibing. To be real with you we were really just talking. He’s like family. I fuck with Rico Wade, Future, Big Boi – the whole Dungeon Family. Andre is from Atlanta and he likes my music and of course I’m a fan of his music, but we were really just chopping it up. It was nothing too crazy.
L+T: Let’s talk a little about your album Est. In 1989: Part III.
MW: I’m about to put out the first single within the next month. It’s called “23” and it features Miley, Juicy J and Wiz Khalifia. It’s a record where I had to try out something different. Miley is kind of rapping to it. I feel like there’s a time in the music industry where people are in demand for something and one thing about economics and business is supply-and-demand. When I came in the game people were saying that the music wasn’t selling, that it was over for Hip Hop and stuff like that. I’m like how so? People wake up everyday and listen to music. The only difference is that people are listening to the music and stuff that they were buying in the ’90s, because those artists in the ’90s were giving them good music. With this album I just wanted to make sure I was producing good music. That’s what people want. They want good music. They want a solid album. With all my success and people liking my sound I felt I should put an album together. It has ten to eleven original songs that are dope as hell. I’ve already dropped three mixtapes for the streets and which each one you can see the growth. For the album I want people to just imagine an iPod playlist with all of their favorite artists. I wanted every song to be their favorite song. Every song is going to feel like a single. I’m not really trying to walk the line. I’m trying to draw the line. This album represents a new genre. I’m calling it Eardrummer and me and my team are going to continue to build and create this new sound and continue to change the game. That’s my focus right now. That, and my new artist.