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Mike Posner: Top of the World (and Sochi)

Mike Posner with the coveted Stanley Cup

Mike Posner with the coveted Stanley Cup

What’s it like to sip champagne out of one of the most coveted trophies in sports? Having recently recovered from his jetlag and whirlwind experiences at Sochi, one of the hottest singers/songwriters/producers sat down to give me the story on his recent successes and his simple plan to bring back more good into the world.

Detroit native Mike Posner is one of the most genuine and down-to-earth guys you’ll ever come across. His supremely soft-spoken voice and friendly demeanor immediately make you feel as if you were old pals, talking about your love for music and hockey until you realize you’re speaking to a platinum-selling artist whose Wikipedia page of accomplishments is longer than your eight grade history report.

Posner on Sochi

If you’re wondering what a musical talent like Posner was doing at the Olympic Games, the answer is simple: having the time of his life and not taking a single second for granted. He attributes his fun time at the Olympics to his good friend, Dan Milstein, the manager of Detroit Red Wings forward (and Team Russia’s) Pavel Datsyuk. Since Datsyuk made a cameo in his “Top of the World” video, dubbed a salute to Detroit sports, it’s only fair for Posner to return the favor with a cameo at the Olympics.

Hockey, a sport Posner grew up on, and the Red Wings specifically, it’s easy to imagine the star-struck nature Posner felt regarding his weeklong entourage in Sochi, because a week later, he was still beaming of the experience. “I grew up watching the Red Wings. I got to meet a lot of the guys I watched when I was a kid – a lot of them are Russian. They let me hold the Stanley Cup and drink champagne out of it – it was really cool,” he says.

Although he was there as a guest of Datsyuk, a member of the Men’s Russian Hockey Team, Posner didn’t feel conflicted about the outcome of USA beating Russia early on. “It was actually perfect because in that game, Pasha had two goals, an assist and another goal in the shootout – but Team USA won, so it worked out just fine,” the music sensation says laughing.

“[Milstein’s] from the Ukraine, and speaks the language so we ate a lot of authentic Russian food, like khachapuri. It’s kinda like pita bread with cheese inside – I normally don’t eat dairy but when I was there I wanted to eat the food the people eat there. It was so good – very addictive,” Posner recalls.

“I don’t think I had the Olympics on my bucket list before but it’s one of those things where it seems like a once in a lifetime opportunity. Definitely the highlight was getting to hold the Stanley Cup – I’ve been with it before, but never got to hold it over my head or drink champagne out of it with one of my heroes. I don’t think I ever dreamed wild enough to have that on my bucket list,” Posner says of his bubbly experience with two of his hockey heroes Sergei Fedorov and Slava Fetisov.

While he’ll probably only ever be a spectator at the Olympics, if Posner were to go as a member of any winter or summer team, it’d probably be distance running, the former high school track and cross-country star says. “I have good endurance. I’ve never run a marathon, but I think I could if I wanted to.”

Posner with former Red Wing Salvafetisov

Posner with former Red Wing Salvafetisov

Starting his music career early

If music were a sport, you could say Posner’s been training pretty much since day one, just like Olympians.

“I started rapping when I was eight or nine, and when I was 13 I started making beats. I started making money off my music when I was like 20 or so,” he laughs. “My first hit came when I was 21. I was a student at Duke University, and I recorded my first hit in my dorm room, a song called Cooler Than Me. I kinda put it out on the Internet for free, and eventually it snowballed and became a big song – that was my first break I suppose,” the 2010 Blue Devil grad says.

We’re living in a day and age where the Internet came make a star overnight. Justin Bieber was a huge testament to that, as is Posner himself. “Music is more democratized than ever,” he says. “The barriers to entry are lower than ever before, so there’s a lot of music out there – there’s more music than ever before, so the key is to just be yourself.”
And a comparison to the Biebs and how they got started in the industry is one he welcomes. Posner helped write and produce the song “Boyfriend” off Bieber’s third album and Bieber is featured on Posner’s upcoming album, Pages.

“I think Justin was always himself. He’s an artist I’ve had the opportunity to work with – as long as you’re not trying to be someone else and you’re doing something new and doing it well,” Posner explains. “I think it’s a special time (in the music industry), in my case and his case, these things can spread organically without the help of a major label. There are not as many gatekeepers as there were before.”

Going viral?

“I just tried to make my music as good as I could, and told my friends to tell their friends and it was that simple,” the star recalls. “Within a couple of months, Jay-Z called me for a meeting and offered me a record deal – before that I never had a big artist help me out, it was always just the music itself. Because when you make something good, someone wants to tell their friend about it and that’s literally how movements start.”

But don’t let that fool you that he didn’t work hard at it. He still had to make the good music that people wanted to share and that’s the exact mindset he took into his sophomore album, Pages.

How does going platinum compare to winning an Olympic medal?

Poser with Evgeni Malkin

Poser with Evgeni Malkin

It’s tough to say (having never won an Olympic medal himself), but Posner guesses the experience on stage is familiar to competing in the Games. “I’m not quite sure if it’s the same – maybe, I don’t know. I guess it is, you can only do it (either) a couple times in your life, so yeah.”

Top of the World

Posner’s latest single, “Top of the World”, ft. Big Sean, is a pretty fitting theme song to making it to the Olympics and to where Posner is now in his career. The motivation behind the new hit Posner attributes to being grateful, but not content, in all he does.

“I’m very appreciative for the blessings I have – I get to make music with my heroes, do what I love and get paid for it but at the same time have the audacity to dream for more and expect more, that’s where I feel like I am in my life. I know Big Sean – a dear friend of mine since I was 18 in Detroit making music in my mom’s basement with him – I know he feels the same about his life. It was fitting, we got to do a music video back in Detroit, and touch all the spots in our city that mean a lot to us, including Comerica Park, the Palace where the Pistons play, and have a bunch of the athletes in the video with us,” he says. “Top of the World” is the first single in his new album, Pages, due out this spring.

Posner is beyond excited for people to hear his music on the new album, but there’s something else that excites him even more. “We’re doing something special with it. I was really blessed to collaborate with the Food Bank in New York City, so for every copy we sell, we serve a meal to a child in need – one for one. I can’t tell you how excited I am about that,” he says.

“We’re the first ones to do something like this, but my hope is that we are not the last. My hope is that other artists adopt this model and a lot of good is done,” he says.

The RCA artist’s latest single is a vow to never forget his humble beginnings while continuing to establish himself as a powerhouse in the music industry, as a true and genuine musical talent.

After seeing the backing he got from friends and strangers alike on the Internet and recalling his experiences at Sochi, I asked if his viral music and novel concept to the start of his career amazed him, which he answered with a genuine feel good laugh. “My whole life amazes me, all the time. It’s totally ridiculous, my life, that I get to do what I do – I feel very grateful.”

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This article originally ran on CBS Man Cave Daily in the sports section. Click here to see the original article.