Mike Will Made-It Explains How A Swae Lee Freestyle Became Beyoncé’s “Formation”

Carl Williott | July 5, 2016 4:19 pm

One of the most impressive things about Beyoncé‘s Lemonade, much like Kanye West‘s MBDTF, is the sheer amount and range of collaborators and voices that came together in service of the star’s singular vision. So every time one of these collaborators speaks about the process, it’s essential reading for pop fans. Producer Mike Will Made-It is the latest to provide some insight into the making of Lemonade, speaking about how “Formation” went from Rae Sremmurd freestyle on the way to Coachella to a towering feminist anthem closing out the album.

“So we’re in the middle of the desert, and we’re just coming up—we just freestyle, you know?—and Swae Lee said, ‘O.K., ladies, now let’s get in formation.’ And we put it on the VoiceNote,” the ATL producer says in a lengthy New Yorker profile. “I’m like, ‘Dog, we got to do that “get in formation” shit.’ That could be a hard song for the ladies. Some woman-empowerment shit. Like, ‘Ladies, let’s get in line, let’s not just fall for anything.’”

From there, Swae Lee recorded it over a beat from Ear Drummer producer A Pluss, and Will sent that song and others to Bey’s camp. Months later in L.A., he ran into her and Jay Z, at which point she told the producer she liked the female empowerment “formation” idea. That was followed by a weeklong New York studio session with the superstar. He says Beyoncé “took this one little idea we came up with on the way to Coachella, put it in a pot, stirred it up, and came with this smash. She takes ideas and puts them with her own ideas, and makes this masterpiece. She’s all about collaborating…That’s what makes her Beyoncé. Being able to know what she wants. A lot of people don’t know what they want.”

Read the full interview right here.