[Photo by Ahmed Klink]
Mike WiLL is a busy man. Just a day after the 2013 VMAs—during which his frequent collaborator Miley Cyrus performed “We Can’t Stop,” a track produced by WiLL—Mike invited a few of his close homies to a high school in Brooklyn’s South Slope to shoot a video for his debut single, “23.” The track, which features guest appearances from Juicy J, Wiz Khalifa and Miley Cyrus, has been teased since XXL ran a feature on Mike WiLL in our July/August issue, in which WiLL said, “[Miley] hopped on the song, and she killed it. She’s kinda rapping and singing.” More recently, WiLL announced via Twitter that the Michael Jordan-inspired song will make its way to iTunes on Sept. 10. Though it hasn’t yet been announced which label the song will be released on, it’s worth noting that Interscope execs were milling around the shoot and WiLL would go on to mention a close friendship with Interscope’s chairman Jimmy Iovine.
Down at Bishop Ford High School, Mike spent time changing outfits and sorting through a sizable collection of rare Jordans that he brought to the set. From what we could tell, the video for “23″ will be standard fare—Mike takes over the school as the principal for the day, dances with Miley in a locker room as she raps her verse and the shoot culminates with a pep rally (mascot and all) on a basketball court—but rest assured the song will be an event, mostly because of the sheer star power Juicy, Miley and Wiz bring to it. In a brief interview between takes, XXL spoke to WiLL about finally putting “23″ out into the world, why he likes to bring together such divergent artists and his contributions to the new albums by 2 Chainz and Future.
XXL: When we spoke back in April, you’d just recorded “23,” and it’s finally set to come out in September. How does it feel to finally release it to the world?
Mike WiLL: Man, this shit is so dope. It’s really a blessing to see everything unfold and come out the way it come out. Everybody’s anticipating it and waiting on the song. And everybody that I let hear it, it’s getting a good response. I haven’t heard anything bad about it yet.
You tweeted about the song yesterday and wrote, “Good things come to those who wait.” What’s the importance of making fans wait for new music nowadays?
You know, a lot of times consumers and listeners don’t understand what goes on behind the scenes. It’s a lot that goes on, and with this song we’re dealing with three big brands: Miley, Wiz and Juicy J. So, Juicy J has an album coming out tomorrow [Ed. Note: Juicy's album Stay Trippy is out now], Miley’s pre-order [for her new album Bangerz] is online and Wiz just dropped the Converse. So it really don’t make no sense for my song to interfere with any of those. Most people would try to ride the wave, but I look at it like…I’m a part of all of those projects—besides Wiz’s Converse, but that’s my homie and I want to see that do well—so I don’t want to take any spotlight or take any shine away from the artists. And me, I’m trying to figure out where I’m gonna close my deal at. I got a lot on the table, and I’m trying to figure that out right now. So good things come to those who wait. The video’s gonna be done and the song’s gonna be out.
The same day?
Yeah! And we got merch lined up. We have Mike WiLL Made It shirts, we have the Made It Mafia shirts and we have the blank Made It shirts. With the blank ones, anybody can put their name on the front of the shirts.
So I heard the track a few minutes ago. Do you think when it comes out, it’s going to add to the success of everyone who’s on it?
That’s the only reason I do what I do. It’s just to enhance all of us. I fuck with who I fuck with, and they fuck with me. That’s the only reason I dropped Established In 1989 Part 1, Part 2 and Part 2.5, just for people who knew I did songs for Gucci and Juicy J and Future, and then I did a song for Rihanna, Brandy and Kelly Rowland. They didn’t know I did that, or they might not’ve listened to those songs, so it makes all the sense to drop them all onto one project. That’s why I do anything that I do.