It's funny. Of all the superstar producers to pop up in recent years, Mike WiLL Made-It is probably the most developed and diverse of them all. He's been that way for years, but in 2016, he's making beats with a vengeance and showing a wider range of sounds than ever before as if to prove his talent is everlasting.
His groove started in late January, when 2 Chainz dropped his Felt Like Cappin' EP by surprise. "MFN Right," produced by Zaytoven and Mike WiLL, was by far the biggest song on the project and eventually ballooned to such popularity that it got taken off that EP and plopped on Tity's ColleGrove album with Weezy.
Days after that dropped, Thugger fucked the world up with "F Cancer," a hard-hitting defibrillator of a beat that is lowkey one of the best songs Thug's made in recent years. With co-production by Resource, it was, along with "Pacifier," another risky selection by 300 Entertainment and one that bet on fans appreciating a well-made song more than one with a catchy chorus. It feels like every time a new Thug and Mike WiLL collab drops, it's magic.
From there, the Atlanta producer went in a couple different directions. He served the streets on "Facts," the intro to Young Dolph's excellent King of Memphis album. He gave Casino a creative beat for "Pose." He even hit Kid Cudi off with some amazing production on "All In," continuing the hot streak the rapper started with "The Frequency."
And then there's "Look Alive," the monster new Rae Sremmurd song that's set to take over radio any day now. With Rae Sremmurd's SremmLife2 dropping this summer, clearly Mike WiLL Made-It isn't playing around in 2016. With all of his forward momentum, XXL highlights the best Mike WiLL beats of the year so far.
"Over Here"Rae Sremmurd Featuring Bobo Swae
This was more of a teaser for the official Rae Sremmurd single, but listen closely. Mike's drum programming is on some other shit while he throws in some subtle sound effects to give the beat a little texture.
One of the trademarks of a gifted producer is the ability to shift tempos from one song to the next. Here, Mike slows it all the way down and Casino adjusts accordingly for a slept-on banger.
Dolph is one of the most respected rappers doing it right now and his King of Memphis LP is hard as nails. So even though he's connected to everyone from Zaytoven to DJ Squeeky, what does it say that he chose Mike WiLL to produce the intro for his debut album? The beat speaks for itself.
"Special"Young Thug Featuring Offset & Solo Lucci
Consider this, "Special" is dope as fuck, mostly because no one plays keys like Mike. But the fact that it's only No. 7 on this list proves how ill dude's been on the boards this year.
This doesn't even sound like a Mike WiLL Made-It beat, but all the little details woven into the background let you know that only a mastermind could have made this shit.
When Kanye West first tweeted this song out, it was the original version, complete with the "Ear Drummas" tag and a drum fill before the percussion drops. The final, inferior version doesn't have that stuff and is a slightly softer mix. Nonetheless, "With Them" still bangs, but why mess with a good thing?
The fact that Mike WiLL can craft a beat that Cudi sounds perfect over in 2016 just speaks to the man's diverse palette. Listening to this is almost surreal, but their on-record chemistry is genuine.
The catchiest song Tity's made since "Watch Out" comes courtesy of Mike WiLL and Zay Tiggy, and though it's hard to know who did what on the beat, that flute and those keys sound like they come from Zaytoven's vein while the backbone points to Mike.
"F Cancer"Young Thug Featuring Quavo
It might take a couple years for people to figure out that "F Cancer" is one of the most daring and rewarding songs Thugger's ever released. He tap dances all over that piano pattern as Mike WiLL gives him all the support he needs to do his verbal gymnastics.
Without a doubt one of the best songs of the year, "Look Alive" does a lot; not only does it reinstate Rae Sremmurd as automatic hitmakers, but it also ensures Mike WiLL's placement back at the top of the charts soon enough.