It's a warm day in May, and Mike Posner is engaging in a game of "Posner Says" during his performance at the Bamboozle Music Festival at the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, N.J.
"When I say 'Bam,' you say 'Boozle.' Bam!" the 23-year-old yells into the mic, removing his black T-shirt and throwing it out into the crowd.
"Boozle!" his fans -- mostly excitable teenage females -- shriek back, as a gaggle of girls start a tug-of-war over the garment, eventually shredding it to pieces.
"Now say, 'Hell fuck yeah!' " he commands while jumping in the air and waving his free hand from side to side.
"Hell fuck yeah!" they scream back.
It's been only two years since Mike Posner began singing and releasing his own music, but the raspy-voiced singer/songwriter/producer has managed to gain a following that's evolved from his local college circuit to Web-savvy teenagers around the country. Now, the Duke University graduate -- he was awarded his BA in sociology just days after his Bamboozle performance -- is readying the release of his debut album, "31 Minutes to Take Off," due Aug. 10 on J Records.
"I ended up signing my record deal after my junior year in college and decided to go back to school to finish my senior year," Posner says. "I finished in three-and-a-half years with a 3.6 GPA. I did a good job at building my career, and at the same time my mom's happy."
"31 Minutes to Take Off," co-produced by Posner and celebrated young beatmaker Benny Blanco (Ke$ha, Katy Perry, 3OH!3), features appearances by Boyz II Men, Travis Barker and songwriter Teddy Riley. Its first single, the sing-songy electro-pop hit "Cooler Than Me," reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100. Other standout tracks include "Do You Wanna?," which finds Posner courting a love interest over bluesy guitars and horns; "Cheated," where he regretfully sings about not cheating on a former lover; and the candid "Gone in September," on which he cheats plenty.
"I watched one of his shows on YouTube," Blanco says, "and I was like, 'This dude's going to be a star.' He had everyone in the audience singing every word to his song and no one even knew who he was. The dude's an instant winner and the ladies love him."
"Mike exudes confidence," says J/RCA Records A&R president Peter Edge, who signed Posner to the label. "I've been in the business for a while, and I know you don't find that kind of attitude every day. A lot of artists don't quite know what they want to do at such a young age. Mike's ambition is remarkable."
Posner got his start producing music at the age of 13 when he convinced his mother to buy him a keyboard. But after years of shopping around his beats with minimal success -- the only recognizable act he produced was Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music artist Big Sean, who appears on the remix to "Cooler Than Me" -- the Southfield, Mich., native decided to start laying his own vocals down with a very strategic plan in mind.
"I wanted to do two mixtapes and get a deal to make an album, but my first mixtape [March 2009's "A Matter of Time"], which I made in my college dorm room, kind of achieved what I thought would take two mixtapes to do," Posner says.
Posner's career accelerated when he posted his mixtapes to iTunes U, a service that typically hosts free podcasts of university lectures.
"I wanted my music to be free, but didn't want to go through any weird file-sharing site," Posner says. "So I found this loophole on iTunes and convinced the people at Duke to put my CD up."
The "loophole," as Posner puts it, mainly consisted of him misleading Duke University officials into believing that "A Matter of Time" was a school project. "I put it up there and told friends to tell friends. I started a Facebook event and invited people to it. I also leveraged a few relationships and got it posted on a few big blogs like 2DopeBoyz.com and Okay Player. Within months I was doing shows around the coast and people were singing the words to my songs."
NEXT: Posner Takes His Show on the Road