Ambition is more than just drive; in the case of burgeoning producer Mike Will, it’s part of his DNA. At 22 years old, the Marietta, Georgia-native has endowed quite the name for himself with his long list of production credits for everyone from Rick Ross (“Tupac Back”) to Young Jeezy (“Way Too Gone”) to 50 Cent (“Girls Gone Wild”) to Ludacris (“I’m on Fire”) to Future (“Ain’t No Way Around It’), and more.
Taking some time out of his busy schedule, Mike reached out to XXLMag.com to discuss emerging as a young producer, crafting both Jeezy and Fif’s latest bangers, and just what he has in store for 2012. —Ralph Bristout (@XXLRalph)
XXLMag.com: How long have you been producing?
Mike Will: Well, I’ve been making beats since around the age of 14. Really going in and producing records, I’ve been doing that [since] around the age of like 19, 20.
How old are you right now?
So how did this whole producing thing become a career path?
It really started when I was playing basketball. I grew up with one of my close homeboys and I used to just love hearing him rap. We would ride on the bus and he would be rapping the whole way home. [We’d] come to the crib and when certain songs were on the radio, I would take [this] little keyboard I had and play it right back. From there he was like, “Bro, you need to start making beats.” So, I went to the local music store [that] was called Marz Music and I was messing with the MP 1000. I was trying to ask the people there how to work the machine and they just showed me the little basics. [From there] I took Fabolous’ “Holla Back (Youngin)” joint and re-made it into another beat.
That was a mean record back then.
You know what I’m saying, it [already] had a Southern feel to it. [So] they were like, “How long you been making beats?” I was like, “Shit, I don’t make no beats. I ain’t got no equipment or nothing.” They thought I was playing so, next thing you know I hollered at my pops. From there he grabbed me my first beat machine which was the KORG ES-1 and I started working with that.
What was your first major production credit?
Gucci Mane was the first person to ever rap on my beat. First major to rap on my beat and told me he was gonna put a stamp on me to take me to the next level. From there it was no looking back.
Now, you got a crazy record on Jeezy’s TM:103 “Way Too Gone.” Tell me how that collabo happened?
It was crazy, man, being back in the club and “Lose My Mind” would come on and I [was always] like, “Shit, if I can get one of these tracks over here to Jeezy for 103 I already know what we could do.” At that point I wasn’t a big brand so it wasn’t even no extending the hands, it wasn’t even no connection, and me doing everything out of my home I was young, it wasn’t like we was gonna bump into each other. Really what happened was I was in Magic City on a Monday and Jeezy was in there. My boy DJ Esco was going in and he just paused the club like, “Man, I don’t think y’all understand. We got the hottest producer in the world in here!” and was going crazy playing all of my joints back to back. Jeezy’s manager Carbon had came into the DJ booth and told the DJ to tell me to come up there so, I came in there and me and him chopping it up he was like, “I need you on that 103 you got the sound.” I’m like shit, “What you mean, consider it done. Anyway you wanna go I got it man, tell Jeezy if he need me we can do that.” So, we exchanged numbers and [later on] me and Jeezy went in to do some joints for the album.
How was it during your first encounter in the studio with him?
The first time me and Jeezy went in, we came up with like seven different concepts. Every different beat I put on, we was just messing with each other and coming up with different concepts and stuff like that, so that’s when I had left the beats and dipped. He had plenty of concepts and he had another record that was crazy but he messed around and forgot about the record. When I left, he lost the beat and he did two other songs which were “Sittin’ Low” and “Nicks 2 Bricks” [which] were on The Real Is Back 2.