Mike WiLL Made-It
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A leading force in Atlanta's commercial rap supremacy for the better part of the 2010s, Mike WiLL Made-It began working with Gucci Mane as a teenager and rode that momentum to establish and sustain mainstream presence with lean, sleek, and imposing productions for an assortment of high-profile artists spanning hip-hop, R&B, and pop. Since topping Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop chart for the first time with the Kanye West-led "Mercy" (2012), not a year has passed without a major hit from the producer. Among his post-breakthrough highlights are Top Ten pop entries with Lil Wayne's "Love Me" (2013), Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop" (2013), and Beyoncé's "Formation" (2016), and number one hits with Rae Sremmurd's "Black Beatles" (2016) and Kendrick Lamar's "HUMBLE." (2017), the last of which won a Grammy for Record of the Year. Mike WiLL has also released an assortment of collaborative headlining projects, including the proper full-length Ransom 2 (2017) and Creed II: The Album (2018), both of which were issued through his Interscope-supported Eardruma label.
Michael Len Williams II grew up surrounded by music in his native Marietta, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta. His mother Shirley has performed and recorded with Dottie Peoples, his father DJ'd in clubs, and one of his sisters was a drum major. Williams himself was into playing keyboards, programming drums, and production by his early teenage years. While in high school, he started supplying tracks for Gucci Mane, as heard on the 2007 mixtape No Pad No Pencil. After graduating, he attended Georgia State but put his studies behind after he landed his first Billboard entry with Meek Mill and Rick Ross' "Tupac Back," a number 31 hit on the R&B/hip-hop chart in 2011. Williams rose to mainstream prominence the next year with a string of hits characterized by lean, sleek, and imposing beats. Future's "Turn on the Lights," Kanye West's "Mercy," 2 Chainz' "No Lie," and Juicy J's "Bandz a Make Her Dance" either topped or nearly topped the R&B/hip-hop chart, with the latter three also crossing into the pop Top 40. Accolades multiplied in 2013, a year that also entailed stylistic diversification into full-blown pop. Six singles bearing the Mike WiLL Made-It stamp reached the Top Ten of the R&B/hip-hop and/or pop chart: Rihanna's "Pour It Up," Lil Wayne's "Love Me," Ace Hood's "Bugatti," Ciara's "Body Party," and Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop," as well as the producer's first hit as a headliner, "23," featuring Cyrus. "23" was Williams' debut for Interscope, where he soon established the boutique Eardruma label for developing rappers and fellow producers. Most of Williams' production success in 2014 was tied to the label's first big act, exuberant sibling duo Rae Sremmurd, whose "No Flex Zone!," "No Type," and "Throw Sum Mo" were Top 40 hits across the year. Shortly after Williams helped take Beyoncé's "Formation" to the Top Ten in early 2016, he and Rae Sremmurd reached a peak with "Black Beatles," a number one pop hit. "Formation" was later nominated for Grammy awards in the categories of Record of the Year and Song of the Year. With several mixtapes behind him, Williams finally released his first proper solo album, Ransom 2, in March 2017. Packed with at least one star artist on most of the tracks, the set entered the Billboard 200 at number 24 but was instantly outdistanced within weeks by a Williams-related LP by one of its guests, Kendrick Lamar's DAMN. Williams either produced or co-produced three tracks from that album, including "HUMBLE.," his second number one hit, and "DNA.," another Top Ten single. The former became Williams' 16th production to go either gold or platinum, and made him a Grammy winner when it took the award for Record of the Year. All the while, Williams continued to devote time to Eardruma as a label head and producer with Edgewood, an album co-billed to Mike WiLL Made-It and rapper Trouble. The March 2018 release was followed eight months later by the Top 50 companion to the Creed II soundtrack, Creed II: The Album. Williams was directly involved with almost every track, joined by the likes of Gucci Mane, Rae Sremmurd, and Kendrick Lamar, as well as 2 Chainz, ScHoolboy Q, and Bon Iver. The song "What That Speed Bout!?," featuring Nicki Minaj and YoungBoy Never Broke Again, arrived in November 2020. ~ Andy Kellman, Rovi