Trouble & Mike WiLL Made-It Talk Crafting 'Edgewood,' Working With Drake & the State of Atlanta Hip-Hop

Jenny Regan 
Mike WiLL Made-It and Trouble photographed in the Billboard office on April 10, 2018.

Trouble burst onto the hip-hop scene with his frightening "Bussin" video sending chills through the spine of mainstream America in 2011, as he exposed the horrors of Atlanta's Zone 6. Mike WiLL Made-it originally connected with the Duct Tape Army member back in 2008, and the duo kept in touch through Big Troub's pair of jail stints from 2008-2011 and 2017-2018. 

It was actually Mike Will's words of encouragement that helped get Trouble back into the studio, while he stood on the sideline witnessing Atlanta's hip-hop scene move to the forefront of the culture. The two developed an undeniable chemistry in 2016 when they put together about six or seven tracks and decided to build their powerful combination into an official album. Fast forward two years, and the 30-year-old inked a deal with Mike WiLL Made-It's Ear Drummers Records. Last month (March 23), the journey came full circle when he unleashed his fiery major label debut Edgewood, named after the Eastside projects Trouble called home.

The highly anticipated album clocks in at 54 minutes of the "Bring It Back" artist narrating his come up through sinister life stories executive produced by Williams himself, who steered the project creatively but also used his expertise behind the boards to work some magic and leave his mark on a handful of records. Edgewood employs an unconventional layered sonic compared to the typical sound currently dominating ATL's trap scene, which Trouble thinks is "goofy az fukk," as he recently declared on Twitter.

Loaded features are precisely enlisted throughout the explosive 16-track effort. The Ear Drummer signee makes it a point to establish a personal relationship with an artist before even thinking about a potential musical collaboration. "I don't like n----s on my songs unless I know you personally and fuck with you," he tells Billboard. "That's why everyone on the tape I fuck with on a personal level. Quavo is my partner. That's like my little bro. [Fetty Wap] is the real bro, that's like family. I've been fucking with The Weeknd for almost six years now. Drake was really the newcomer. I didn't know he knew shit about me."

Trouble made his way to the Billboard office last week (April 10) for an in-depth sit-down, with Mike WiLL Made-it joining the conversation shortly after. Check out the rest of our talk with the pair of creatives as they touch on the origins of Edgewood, how Drake ended up on "Bring It Back," tying their music videos into a full-length film, issues with the rap game, studio sessions with The Weeknd and Rae Sremmurd, and much more below.

What is the origin of your relationship with Mike WiLL Made-It and how did Edgewood come together?

Trouble: It's really a continuation of my story when I first came into the game to me being like, "fuck this shit" and to jumping back and going extra hard. As far as [Mike WiLL Made-It], we've actually been partners for a while. When I first came home, after my first bid in 2011, Mike was always around and trying to stay on me. At that time, none of us really had shit going on. You had me, Mike, Future and we were just trying to find our way. They both took it a lot more serious than I did. For me being able to see them take the game from ground zero and end up at the top, that gave me a little more hope like, "Okay this shit can happen for real."

It just happened at the time I was locking in doing the Scoobzilla mixtape that Mike ended up calling my phone to see what I've been on. [Mike] was like, "We got to get back in the studio. I've been told you this is it. You got the streets fucking with you and you got all the [women]. You got the support system, now you just have to jump on it." We talked for 30 minutes about going to Tree Sound Studios. At that point in time, I had no choice but to believe. I went out there and we started recording three or four songs the same day and just kept going in and the vibe was just so genuine. We figured just to do a whole project together and lock this shit in. 

Mike WiLL Made-It:  We were just on the come up respecting each other's grind. I always tuned in when he had his releases. I met [Trouble] back in 2008. Ever since then I've been seeing his whole grind. I've been grinding and at that time we locked into the studio. When we got in there, the shit was sounding hard and it started to come together. I told him we had to do a project. 

Let's get into some tracks. Talk to me about the opener "Real Is Rare" and the powerful visual your team put together.

Trouble: "Real Is Rare" was really simple to me. It is what it's saying. There isn't too much coming out of rappers speaking on real shit that folks are going through. I just feel like everyone's jumping into the game to get a quick check. A quick way to do that is to just say a bunch of mumbo-jumbo bullshit. Nobody is telling their life story about what they're going through on a day-to-day basis. I was just speaking on witnessing all the bullshit that's surrounding Atlanta and the rap game. 

With the video, a lot of credit goes to my manager White Boy D. Derrick is really creative on that end. He knows me personally so when he hears my stories and what I'm going through with the music, he'll come up with different ideas visually about how we can paint this to the world so people can get more of an understanding. 

What did you mean in the video when it reads, "If you feed the beast, the beast will destroy you?"

Trouble: That basically goes back to some social media type of shit. I feel like there's too much access for a lot of people. Everybody doesn't know how to control it. That shit can swallow your ass whole if you don't know what's going on. 

My understanding is that Mike brought "Bring It Back" to Drake and he hopped on it, correct?

Mike WiLL Made-It: I had pulled up on Drake and he was working on his album. We were working on some stuff and he asked me, "What have you been working on?" I told him, "I just did this project with Trouble. It's going to be a six-song project we're throwing out there." When Drake heard the whole project he was like, "That third song, I got to get on that shit tonight." I was like, "Hell yeah." So, I pulled it up and he knocked it straight out. He told me to reach out to Trouble to make sure it was cool, but I was just going to bring it to Atlanta and play it for him. 

I pulled up to Atlanta and acted like I was playing some of the mixes and it got to "Bring It Back" and Trouble was like, "Who that is?" His boys were like, "Hell yeah this shit's hard," like he was surprising them. I'm just sitting back watching their responses. Trouble's looking at his boys who already knew that was Drake. One of his boys called it out and Trouble was like, "Man, I thought that was Drake. Run that back. When the hell did you do that?"

[Trouble] wanted to get on the phone with [Drake] to chop it up first. After they linked up it was organic. None of the features were like, "Let's call this person and get them on the project." Everything was organic with no reaching involved.

Trouble, what was your initial reaction to hearing Drake on "Bring It Back?"

Trouble: I didn't know it was him at first -- I was looking at it like that was bullshit. I didn't know he knew shit about me. When I came in I didn't recognize his voice. I'm just thinking [Mike WiLL Made-It] probably went and threw anybody on that motherfucker. I know he's got all types of ties and shit.

Mike WiLL Made-It: [Trouble] didn't have a lot of faith in me, bro. It was a new relationship.

Trouble: I'm on some Ear Drummers shit and I don't got any faith? [Pulls out Ear Drummer Records chain] I take that shit to heart. My music goes to a personal level. That's all my life stories. A lot of times I don't care if the n---a just came into the game smoking hot. I'm not going to jump on any n---a. I like to have a genuine relationship then we can do music. I started listening in and caught on to it and was like this is [Drake]. This is too hard. I was like, "Mike, you a fool for that one." I wanted to chop it up with [Drake] so I finally got on the phone with him and he was humble and regular as fuck. Outside of what many would've thought by him being so big. I was rocking with it.

[Drake] was all the way with the video. That was [Drake] and Mike's idea. [Drake] was telling us he getting ready to go on tour and asked if we wanted to knock the video out. For him to even be reaching out that's hard as fuck. [Drake's] got too much going on. They wanted to come to Los Angeles with it. [Mike WiLL Made-It] had it situated and we got it popping. 

For the "Bring It Back" video, did you want it to play out like it was Drake's first time hearing the record?

Mike WiLL Made-It: We wanted it to kind of play like that. It seemed like the real story with me putting it together, but at the same time, those videos are part of a whole film we shot called Edgewood. It will probably release around May. That was the part showing me bridging that gap. That's not exactly how it went down.

On "Pull Dat Cash Out/December" you pay homage to Bankroll Fresh. What was his impact on Atlanta hip-hop?

Trouble: Bankroll was a real A-town n---a. He was one of those once he got all the way into the game he would've been telling real stories. He wasn't just here to rap, it was a real feeling you got from shorty. Outside of him being a lively character with personality, his music was telling something and that was my own personal problem. 

I remember being on the road in South Carolina with his cousin and she was calling me crying, "They killed him." That shit froze my whole world for a minute. That's my dog. This was the furthest thing from my expectation that I thought would've been going on. Then we had to get back into the city and chop it up to find out where this all went down. It was total bullshit. It just shows you too how you got to be more cautious with who you're fucking with and the people around you. A lot of times we could prevent this shit if we could just remove ourselves.

How did you put together the beat for "Might Not" where you sample "Gucci on My?"

Mike WiLL Made-It: I made that beat in the car in some Los Angeles traffic. I was leaving Jeff Bhasker's crib after making some beats. I was like, "What would I want to be listening to right now?" That shit had the crowd and it was simple. I added the loop on my computer and when I got back to Atlanta I had made "Gucci on My" and felt this beat needed one more sound. Trouble wanted to hop on it and I told him it needed one more sound. I went to what I added to "Gucci on My" and threw it on there real quick. I didn't want it to sound that close but once Trouble got on there it was hard as fuck, so I left it sounding raw.

Throughout Edgewood I noticed you were shouting out a lot of NBA players, are you a big fan of the league?

Trouble: I don't watch any reality television. You're going to lose me if you start one of those conversations. I watch the news and sports. I found one show I can fuck with and that's The Blacklist. I'm stuck on that motherfucker. I fuck with sports heavy. I used to ball when I was younger. I still got it in me. I don't benefit from it on any level so you won't see me on any field or court anymore unless it's some shit like Huncho Day that we just did. 

How was Huncho Day? I saw you suited up for Julio Jones' team [Atlanta Falcons].

Trouble: I had to scrape them folks and lock down on defense. I was the old Ray Lewis. I saved the game when we were about to lose too. We were down 6-0 and I played the whole second half. I think Julio may tell the Falcons about me. I got the interception with a minute left and we went down there and scored on them. 

We went to overtime and they were going right down the field. It was fourth down and I end up dropping an interception, but it was still a turnover on downs. If I didn't jump that route they would've scored. We got the ball back and went down and scored. We gave them that first loss for Huncho Day, it was only right. Me and [Mike WiLL Made-It] were talking about how we can't wait to kill them this summer and bring that smoke to the basketball court. When that comes around, I'll be balling. 

 

I aint had fun like i did at #HunchoDay in foreva dawg #OnLORD!.. I won’t lie, i used to always wanna play in the lil celeB BasketBall games n shit ertime it came around in Atl. But I’d always get the call saying i was Basically Banned though Because someone said “TrouBle an his gang Be on the Bullshit man dont let dem come”!.. It was neva my intention to fuck up noBody event for nothing at all or go jump on noBody.. Alotta dese rap niggaz jus Be some real cupcakes!! I’ve definitely grown from who i was at those times But nigga still dont play da radio! Its TrouBle wit TrouBle when necessary!.. So @quavohuncho I Preshate U for stayin #True dawg #ThugLuv #WeDifferent 〽️〽️--️ #DuctapeMadeG #WordToSkooB

A post shared by Trouble Trouble (@troubledte6) on

Were the phone calls and convos scattered throughout the project real or planned out?

Trouble: We wanted to kind of generate that feel how it used to be back in the day. You would have the interludes and skits. That kind of shit drove folks into your world. You got a real feel rather than hearing a bunch of different music jumping around. You had to go from No. 2 to No. 8 to No. 15 to get something real going on. I wanted you to be able to play it all the way on out. We all brought the ideas together, but of course, we're grown folks and going to have our different opinions. At the same time, that's the shit I respect because everyone is going to speak their mind. 

Mike WiLL Made-It: With the whole Edgewood project, it was like bringing people to Trouble's world. Him being from Edgewood and the project may have a voicemail with me calling, which represents that I used to be hitting him when he had one foot in and one foot out of the game. I was trying to get him to come to the studio. Everything that he's rapping about was the shit he was going through. When you hear songs like "Time Afta Time" you don't even know what Trouble's dealing with. When the movie comes, it will all tie together. 

How did "Ride or Die" with Fetty Wap and Quavo come together?

Trouble: Before I did it I was in the mindstate of, "I got all the [women] in the world, but I don't do too many songs directly for them." There's just so much street shit so every time I go in the booth that's what comes out. I wanted to do something for the ladies. I already knew beyond Fetty Wap being my personal partner and looking at each other like brothers that I like his sound too. I knew I wanted him involved in the track. 

When we did the song it was just me and the bros up at what used to be called Hot Beats at the time. We were in the room and I came up with the hook. Migos happened to be in the room right across from me. They're like my little bros. While I'm coming up with the hook I went in their room and grabbed Quavo. He followed me into the next room and we're vibing and gave him an idea of what I'm saying on the song. 

I just wanted him to vibe and I told him he didn't need to do any verse. He goes, "I'm with whatever, I got to put a verse on it." He went in the booth and laced the motherfucker. I went in and did my verses and after that is when I ended up calling [Fetty Wap]. He did that motherfucker on the same day and sent it right back. 

What do you remember about shooting the Noisey Atlanta episode you were in back in 2015?

Trouble: We shot the Noisey episode in Pittsburgh in Atlanta. That's Zone 3. I'm an Edgewood n---a for life, straight off the Eastside. When I was coming home, they started knocking down Edgewood and moving all the others in. The only thing left was Edgewood Courts. The rest was turned into big homes that cost $500,000. That started spacing everyone out and when I came home all the bros were in Pittsburgh. I was sleeping in the trap house. We really invaded their hood but they didn't want any smoke. It was all love. We shot it there because that was our new turf. 

What are "Red Dog" cops in Atlanta? 

Trouble: They don't give a fuck about you. As soon as they smell something they're pulling up four deep. They're pulling up like the S.W.A.T. team. They don't even need to have any type of evidence so they could just jump out and look at your ass and think you may be holding something and whoop your ass. They're still alive now but it's nothing like it used to be when we were coming up. 

Why did you tweet,"Rap game goofy as fuck these days. I can't even name 10 real ones?"

Trouble: Because it's the truth. This shit is goofy as hell. I feel like everyone's just doing anything for the little clout shit they call it these days to get some attention and make a quick buck. They don't give a fuck about their character or stand for anything these days. They just want to be noticed. 

Back in 2015 you joined Young Thug on "Thief In The Night" and opened your verse showing respect for women. What made you want to lay that down at the time?

Trouble: That's just how I was feeling. I don't go in on any songs and think this is going to be a single or a No. 1 smash. To this day, I never even picked out a single in my career. Everything has always been about the people. I just put it out to the streets knowing that these folks won't relate. These are my truths about what I've witnessed and lived through. I always let the streets talk for me. When I say, "I'll take anything but some pussy" that's just some shit I don' fuck with, period. Those are the n----s that are supposed to put under the jail. 

For some reason, they'll get less time than someone who got caught with some [drugs] or a pistol. Child molesters and shit get to come right on home. I don't fuck with that type of shit. That's why I wanted to put that out there for the young heads who may think that's cool. Some people won't take no for an answer. Their ego gets hurt. These n----s will put something in a girl's drink or punch them out and deal with the case later. They're lame as fuck. I wanted to put that shit into a song. 

How did you end up on "Try Me" by The Weeknd off My Dear Melancholy?

Mike WiLL Made-It: Me and Abel were supposed to link up since 2012. We linked up but never did anything. We knocked out a couple ideas here and there like "Drinks on Us" and others. I was going to be on Starboy, but we didn't get to finish the song. We locked in when Rae Sremmurd went on tour with The Weeknd. We were already talking about catching a wave, but I didn't get to catch as many dates as I planned to. 

Next thing you know, they were coming to Atlanta, so I met them at the studio and we were knocking out records. Trouble was in one room doing "Come Thru," The Weeknd was in another and Rae Sremmurd was in the other. At this point, I already had Trouble pulling up to the studio to go in. 

Me and The Weeknd already had a session booked. It was a point when we all got in the room together and did the "Try Me" record. Everyone went in on that shit -- Trouble, Swae Lee, and Quavo went in because that was the vibe. Right after that, The Weeknd walked out of there and got on "Come Thru." Swae and The Weeknd did a hard ass song that's going to end up on SremmLife 3. We did a couple more joints. The Weeknd called me and said, "This 'Try Me' was like a hook and concept idea. I like how it came out. I feel like this whole vibe matches this project I'm about to put out so I'm going to finish it up and put it on there." 

We still got this other version that's lingering. That's another thing with timing, Abel and I were running across from each other but never had a chance to lock in the studio. "Drinks On Us" was one of those times, but the timing wasn't right because he had "Earned It" and a couple different things going on after the album and performing at Coachella so we couldn't get the video like we wanted. Files didn't get sent so the version that's on iTunes is the official but the radio was going by SoundCloud's. It was all messed up but real ones know the version of "Drinks On Us" with Future, Swae Lee and The Weeknd is hard as fuck. 

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