Mike WiLL, Rap’s Producer Of The Moment, Makes It – XXL Issue 149
Which brings us to Miley Cyrus. The Nashville-born former tween star, a longtime Disney Channel fave, has reestablished herself as a hip-hop loving, weed-smoking, certified badass who shocked the world with a homemade “twerking” video earlier this year and recently appeared topless on the cover of Maxim magazine. When news broke that Miley, now 20, was working on an album with Pharrell, fans started guessing about her new direction. But when Mike Instagrammed a photo of himself and Miley in the studio, a nation of hip-hop heads’ jaws hit the floor.
It shouldn’t be such a surprise, according to Mike. While the two come from extremely different backgrounds, he claims that his exposure to Miley’s dad’s music and their common Southern upbringing made them kindred spirits. “She’s from the South, and I’m from the South,” he says. “Where I grew up, I had to hear her pops’ music. And besides that…she’s just cool as shit. She’s not caught up in being ‘Miley Cyrus’ or anything like that.”
The first fruit of their collaborative labors comes in Mike’s new single, “23,” featuring Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J and Miley. Named for Michael Jordan’s jersey number, the song resulted from a friendly bet (of the sort that Jordan became quite famous for). “I had a verse written for a girl, but I didn’t know who I was going to use,” Mike says. “So I was like, ‘Miley, you can’t pull this off.’ She was like, ‘Yeah, I can.’ I’m like, ‘Man, no you can’t.’ It was like a friendly little bet, then she hopped on the song, and she killed it. She’s kinda rapping and singing.”
Mike has his own challenge in front of him. After all, we’ve seen a string of ATL trap producers—Lex Luger, Zaytoven, Drumma Boy—rise fast only to fall by the wayside after getting stuck in one sound and mindset. Mike hopes to safeguard his longevity by expanding his brand. Besides Miley’s album, he’s preparing what he describes as a “high-energy” EP of instrumentals and hooks that he’s aggressively titling #FuckVerses. Then a featured producer spot on Future’s upcoming second album, Future Hendrix. New music with Gucci Mane and then a solo record. Though he hasn’t signed any contracts yet, he says he’s “got a dope situation from everybody” and will likely find a home for his EarDruma Ent imprint before summer’s end.
“It’s my job, with this new generation, to make the ill joints,” he says. “I’m coming out with joints that folks want to hear. To me, I just want to spread things out. I want to have a fucking smash out with Miley Cyrus and then have the illest street record out with Gucci.”