Popping Up: Mike Posner

Popping Up is our recurring look at new artists making noise on the music landscape. Because, hey, Madonna and Britney were once unknown, too.

The summer after college graduation can be a depressing time: mounting student loans, the possibility of having to consider a career in plastics — that is, unless you’re Mike Posner. The singer, songwriter, producer (but don’t you dare mistake him for a rapper) spent his college nights crafting beats in his dorm room. He completed his successful sophomore mixtape, One Foot Out The Door long before he completed his senior year. His first proper album will most likely debut this summer before his Duke University degree arrives in the mail. Only Posner won’t be around to see it, he’s about to hit the road on the Warped Tour.

Check out the guy we think will be responsible for this summer’s singular poolside jam.

AGE: 22

HOMETOWN: Southfield, Michigan (a suburb of Detroit)

MUSICAL BACKGROUND: Mike began learning how to read music and playing the drums when he was only in fifth grade. At 13, Posner had figured out how to use his parents’ computer to make his own beats. At 15, he deepened his musical knowledge and appreciation at band camp. And Mike had already completed his first rap Mixtape, Reflections Of A Lost Teen, before he completed his senior year of high school. (Okay, so maybe he was a rapper.)

INTERNSHIP TURNED LIFE ALTERING FRIENDSHIP: An internship at Detriot hip-hop mainstay, radio station Hot 102.7, introduced Posner to Kanye West’s pupil Big Sean. The two became fast friends and Sean dug Mike’s beats. Years later, after Mike tired of trying to get other rappers to use his beats, he decided with the help of Big Sean to start using his own. Suddenly, a friend from a summer internship is laying down vocals for Posner’s “Cooler Than Me” in Mike’s parent’s basement. “The rest is history,” Posner says.

HIS BIG BREAK: Through manager Daniel Weisman, Mike’s recording reached mixtape wizards Don Cannon and DJ Benzi, who hosted A Matter Of Time on the Web in March of 2009. The mixtape went on to became the #1 download on iTunesU and in no time Posner was signed to J Records. Shortly after he was opening for 50 Cent, Gym Class Heroes, and Ben Folds.

HIS BIGGER BREAK: Only half way through 2010, Mike has performed at SXSW and Bamboozle, and before the year is out he will have the Bonnaroo music festival, the Warped Tour, and his first album under his belt.

A MATTER OF TIME: Making it on the charts and making the grades don’t always work well together. But Posner found a way to balance four dance classes with weekend touring, studying and making beats in his dorm room (much to the dismay of his neighbors.)

WHAT HE SOUNDS LIKE: If Justin Timberlake had a scratchy sore throat and sang over a tune that Ryan Tedder penned and a dash of frat boy confidence you’d have Mike Posner. Listen to his unrequited crush song “Cooler Than Me” from his A Matter Of Time Mixtape to see for yourself:

Speaking of Ryan Tedder, Mike reconstructed Ryan’s song “Halo” (originally recorded by Beyonce) into a scorned lover’s anthem by changing the words to “Baby take off your halo, it don’t even glow no more”.

Making the most of Duke University, Posner shot the music video for “Drug Dealer Girl” on campus after class one day.

IS HE DESTINED FOR A QUARTER-LIFE CRISIS?: At just 22, will Mike hit the dreaded quarter-life crisis like most Generation Y-ers and make a career shift at 25? Using the Blue Devils as an analogy, Mike says, “If my career was a basketball season, I’m in the pre-season still.” We agree. His reworking of E.L.O.’s “Evil Woman” is sinfully good.

[wpaudio url=”//idolator.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/evil-woman-mike-posner-the-brain-trust-a-matter-of-time-mixtape.mp3″ text=”Mike Posner – Evil Woman”]

OUR VERDICT: So You Think You Can Dance All-Star Neil Haskell said it best when he told us, “I don’t know what it is about his music, but every single song I hear from his albums I just want to dance to.” We think that Mike has a long career of making the kind of music that commands people to shake their booties ahead of him.