This is the second in a series, in partnership with smartwater, saluting the contributions of the behind-the-scenes heroes of pop music–the people behind the people behind the hits. Today: 22-year-old hip-hop super-producer Mike WiLL.

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"All the important shit that you about to hear over the next couple of decades...Mike Will made it."

That claim was made by no less an authority on popular music than Diddy, not usually the sort to blow smoke about any regular joe off the street, in the intro to producer Mike Will's recent Mike WiLL Made It mixtape. The evidence certainly points in WiLL's favor—increasingly, the 22-year-old's name is showing up on all the biggest hip-hop releases, all the hottest club jams. If, as Mr. Combs predicts, Will was the next underground producer to run the Billboard hip-hop charts, we wouldn't be surprised.

WHO: Mike WiLL, also known as Mike WiLL Made It, both an alias and a signature, as quoted in the above Diddy pronouncement.

FROM: Marietta, Georgia, though it was in the ATL where Mike WiLL first partnered with Gucci Mane, the rapper with whom WiLL first got his big break.

BIG BREAK: WiLL notched his first big hit working with Maybach Music's Meek Mill and Rick Ross on the thunderous hip-hop anthem "Tupac Back." The song became a cult smash, was featured on MMG's Self-Made, Vol. 1, and cracked the R&B; charts. WiLL said the song's success was enough to justify him dropping out of college to his dad: "I had a song on the Billboard charts so pops was like 'Okay, I see what you doing.'"

BEST KNOWN FOR: Drake and 2 Chainz' R&B; chart-topping "No Lie." The beat is typically enormous sounding, but is also impressively intricate, with the booming bass underlying a hypnotic, shimmering synth line, and a theremin-sounding whirr providing the main chorus hook. The whole thing sounds like it should be soundtracking one of the alien fight scenes in Independence Day.

OTHER WORK YOU MIGHT RECOGNIZE: Future's similarly otherworldly "Turn on the Lights," a momentum-gathering hit of recent weeks, as well as "Bitches & Bottles," one of the better songs on DJ Khaled's recent Kiss the Ring, and "Just a Sign" off B.o.B.'s Strange Clouds. He also contributed additional production to a minor hit called "Mercy."

REPRESENTATIVE QUOTE: “I want to work with everybody, whoever I haven’t worked with yet...From street rap to Disney to pop; I want to do it all."


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