Quite often we only see the end result of what is typically a long road to the top for the biggest names in music. In the age of social media it can seem like artists are literally blowing up overnight (Ok fine, Desiigner did), but little is known about the grind they had to put in to cement their place in the industry.
Super-producer Mike WiLL Made-It, who has guided the Platinum-certified careers of Ear Drummer Records duo Rae Sremmurd and whose production has accompanied Beyonce, Miley Cyrus, Future and many more on a journey to the top of the charts, is a perfect example.
In a recent profile with The New Yorker, Mike WiLL talked about his early days and how, after his dad bought him a Korg Electribe EM-1 digital synthesizer for Christmas, he began selling his first beats at his day job:
At Kroger, where he bagged groceries after school, Will sold his beats for a hundred dollars each to some would-be rappers who worked with him, and used the money to buy more equipment. “I just wanted to get better. I was working with anybody and everybody. I’m like, ‘Hold up, I’ll make three beats for you for five hundred dollars and I’ll record you.’ ” He’d come home from his job and spend most of the night working in the basement.
It was shortly after his Kroger beat hustling days that Mike WiLL met Gucci Mane at Atlanta's Patchwerk Studios. Mike gave Gucci a beat CD and shortly thereafter the rapper came calling with cash in hand:
“Yo, the homeboy with the beats! I got a thousand dollars for you!” Gucci said. Will, all of seventeen at the time, replied, “I get my people to holla at your people, bro.” Gucci was amused. In the course of three days in 2007, they made twenty songs together. After one especially inspired bout on the mike, Gucci Mane bestowed on Will his producer name: “Mike Will made it, Gucci Mane slayed it!” he cried.
For the piece, The New Yorker also spoke to WiLL's dad Mike, who tells the story of initially feeling reluctant about his son working with Gucci due to the rapper's criminal record:
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“Michael would say, ‘No, he’s cool.’ I said, ‘He has gone to prison—he can’t be so cool.’ Michael just said, ‘He got caught up in something.’ ‘Well, O.K., you just be careful out there.’ ”
Needless to say, it's a good thing WiLL didn't listen to his father as the pairing resulted in Mike's production being used on various Gucci tracks in '07 and '08, including "If Ya Girl Choose" featuring Yung Joc:
Mike WiLL pushing his early production work while working at a grocery store, by any means necessary, to anyone that would listen, is a story we've all heard before, most famously by Kanye West who grinded in the Chicago underground for years selling beats to local artists before finally getting his big break producing Jay Z's "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)" single off 2001's The Blueprint, but one that will never get old.
Anchored in a singular focus to make music his career and an unrelenting drive to produce the biggest songs on the charts, Mike WiLL's rise to stardom and current in-demand status can be traced back to his days working at Kroger. We all have to start somewhere.
Update: Kroger might want to hire us to help their marketing department.
by @brokencool, brokencool Made-It.
Photo Credit: Instagram