How the man behind Kanye West's "Mercy" and Miley Cyrus' "We Can't Stop" became the hottest producer in the Game
"Me and Miley just clicked," he says. "She has good ideas. She's real creative. Her whole thing is she's getting older so her sound is evolving, but she doesn't want to reach too far. 'We Can't Stop' has so many different vibes to it. She sounds country; the beat has these live, knocking drums; and then it has these pop melodies. It's a feel-good record."
Will and Cyrus were so happy with "We Can't Stop" that they worked together on nine more tracks, eight of which will appear on her album. As she puts it, although the two seem like strange bedfellows, they found they had a lot in common.
"He's been making beats since he was 16," Cyrus says. "Maybe it was on a different scale-he was with Gucci and I was with Disney-but we were both working, doing what we got to do, when we were young. Now, because we've been successful enough, we can make whatever we want. So I think him and I are at the same place in our life now: He's trying to break into my world a little bit, and I'm going into his world a little bit."
At this point, Will doesn't have a singular, signature sound that listeners can identify as soon as they hear it, but that's hardly a knock against him. In fact, as fellow Atlanta native Reid points out, it's what has allowed him to hop, skip and jump from underground rap to pop and back.
"Whenever anyone can move from mixtapes to R&B to mainstream pop, it has to do with how they've grown up and the music they've been exposed to," Reid says. "If you grow up in Atlanta, dancing matters. Strip clubs really are a part of Atlanta culture. Pop radio is real. R&B radio is real. He's tasted a little bit of everything Southern music has to offer so he has a very special sound. It feels a little bit hip-hop, a little bit R&B and a little bit ratchet."
Will also has a clever musical marketing hook: Every one of his productions is tagged in the first 30 seconds with a voice intoning, "Mike Will made it." It's the equivalent of having a catchy advertising jingle embedded into all his work.
"People know his name," Reid says. "I have a 10-year-old son who knows Mike Will Made It. He doesn't know who the guy is, but he knows that if it says that at the front of the record that it's a good record."