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From Duke U to Bonnaroo: Meet Pop Singer Mike Posner

The brand new college grad on late-night sessions in the dorm

June 2, 2010 4:28 PM ET

On June 13th, Mike Posner will pick up the mike at Bonnaroo. Just two weeks ago he was on a different stage, accepting his diploma from Duke University (he graduated with a stellar 3.59 GPA). Posner, a frat boy producer-turned-singer who signed to J Records last summer after his mixtape A Matter of Time hit Number One on iTunesU, has some major post-grad plans. In addition to the Tennessee megafest, he'll rock all 42 dates of the Warped Tour. "I went to the studio with Travis Barker who played on one of my new songs, I got my passport renewed and did a show with Drake," he says of a recent action-packed day. "It's weird to think my buddies were in school during that time."

Doctorates of Rock: check out big names scoring honorary degrees, from Bono to Bowie.

Posner's as-yet-untitled debut disc, due in August, boasts more of the sound he developed on his mixtapes (a second release, One Foot Out the Door followed Time): college-themed party hooks over electro-pop beats. Like Asher Roth, the Michigan MC caters to the popped-collar crowd, crooning about weekend hookups, late nights and endless bong rips. On the THC-laced "Drug Dealer Girl," he rhymes, "You're never going to be a runway model/But you can make a bomb-ass piece out of a water bottle." The first single from his LP, "Cooler Than Me," is a slick slice of dancey R&B that even includes a shout-out to Carly Simon's "You're So Vain."

A Matter of Time came together during Posner's junior year in his dorm room. His late-night recording sessions usually ran from midnight to sunrise, upsetting plenty of hall mates. Once, a neighbor told him she would come to his show if Posner didn't wake her up recording every night. He remembers seeing her packing up her stuff later in the year. "She was like, 'I'm moving out because of you,' " he says. "She went abroad."

To promote A Matter of Time, Posner convinced a friend at Duke's tech support office to help him upload his music to iTunesU — a service reserved for academic uses (student lectures and podcasts). The digital album soon rose to the top spot, then got yanked for being less traditionally educational. But it didn't matter by then: "Within a matter of months I was doing shows in Ohio and Florida during finals week, having five hundred people know every word," Posner says.

Like he was in the dorm, Posner will be the odd man out on the Warped Tour this summer, a rare radio-friendly pop act on a punky bill, but he's confidant his frantic live show will succeed. "I love to be the guy that's different than every other band on the tour."

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