It's December, which means it's year-end list season when it comes to music sites and magazines. SPIN set off its 2013 coverage by naming producer Mike WiLL Made It its 2013 Artist of the Year.
According to SPIN, the Atlanta native's production stamp on the year was too much to deny.
And after years of devastating global economic catastrophe, a widening chasm between the rich and everyone else, and near-constant, Internet-stoked racial animus, perhaps it was inevitable that our dominant musical psychology in 2013 would grow more dark and extreme, more escapist and existential. In SPIN's Album of the Year essay, Christopher R. Weingarten ticks off countless artists who have entered "the void" this year, finding refuge not in opulent fantasy but edgy severity, offering a dankly clanking purge via negative spaces and nuanced nothingness. Mike WiLL Made It has pushed in another, though related direction. With tracks for an assortment of artists (from Future to Jay Z to Rihanna to Miley Cyrus), he's brought his ominously atmospheric, party-in-the-ruins tint to a variety of contexts: rap, R&B, and pop.
In 2012 alone, he provided 2 Chainz with his career-defining moment via "No Lie"; gave Juicy J a startling star turn with "Bandz a Make Her Dance"; and refined Future's come-up with the woozy, cry-from-the-void Auto-Tune plaint "Turn on the Lights." And while those tracks were still makin' it rain in the 2013 zeitgeist, Mike WiLL churned out six more Top 40 hits, in addition to becoming Lee Hazlewood to Miley Cyrus' Nancy Sinatra (heh heh). He's now the auteur of "turn up," which in his parlance also means "that real shit, woo woo," but for the rest of the population means that song or that moment in a song, when the known world, or the members of the known world posted up in a club (or at least on Twitter), all gasp and howl, "Awwwwwww, naaaaaahhh!"
Now we're not going to side eye this selection because Mike WiLL Made It does crank out the hits, and we said he was that dude, early. However, we could stand way less Miley Cyrus mentions in advocating for his dominance, though.
We'll let y'all speculate on any "Black artist has to collaborate with white Pop stars to get acceptance" theories.
Bu in that regard, this sentence from the Mik WiLL write up is telling.
The situation sketched by Mike WiLL songs is that the country, especially the African-American community, is ass-out broke and thirstily spiteful, while the rap-star-as-rock-star remains an understandably embattled outlier.
Oh word? Shouldn't that be on the artist who is performing over Mike WiLL's beats? Read the full story for yourself over at SPIN.
Photo: Terry Richardson