The numbers are in. Mike Stud’s debut album, Relief, landed at No. 40 on this week’s Billboard 200, selling 9,200 copies independently. Mike first picked up the mic after an injury derailed the Division I athlete's plans to play baseball professionally. It’s been just over two years since he released his first viral video, and now the 24-year-old out of Cranston, Rhode Island, is on his way to breaking out of the “college-rapper” lane, and into that of a legitimate recording artist. After Relief soared to No. 1 on the iTunes Hip Hop Charts and No. 2 overall last week, we caught up with Mike for the first time since  we spotlighted him on The Break last year. Find out what he has to say about his first week sales, the indie grind and plans to impact radio.

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Who is Mike Stud?

I’m from Rhode Island. I went to Duke and played baseball there. I was a two-time All American at Duke and then I had to have Tommy John surgery on my elbow. When I had that surgery, I was out for a ridiculous amount of time. You’re sidelined for 16-20 months. When it happened, it was right in the middle of my draft year so it sucked. So I made a few songs and for whatever reason it got popular at my school. They started playing it at the bars and then some of the college blogs picked it up and it just went from there, man. I think a lot of people really fucked with my story, more than the music at first.

On the making of his first viral hit, “College Humor”

I recorded it on Garage Band by myself on a $400 mic. It’s laughable to look at it now. It’s a very basic flow and every line was like a sports punch line or about fucking girls or having fun. Now it has like 1.5 million views. It’s just funny to see how that song got me in the door, because there was nothing professional about it at all.

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On life after baseball:

I was optimistic about returning, and I worked really hard to return to baseball even while the music stuff was happening. I even went to Georgetown graduate school to play a 5th year because I thought ‘Ok, I’m not going to be a rapper.” I had a booking agent and was travelling with the Georgetown baseball team, trying to re-establish  who I was as a pitcher. But it didn’t happen. If I had gotten back to full strength, even if I did have the career I had musically, I would have chosen baseball, but that’s not what happened. I’m a realistic person, and so I thought ‘Baseball didn’t work out, and this is happening, so I’m going to dedicate myself to it 100%'. Sometimes I thought ‘How long is this gonna last?’, but it’s something that didn’t slow down. It’s just continued to grow and now it’s a lot more serious. Now it’s about evolving from this college rapper who some people might think of as a joke to a real artist, with real records. That’s where I am now.

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On his new album, Relief:

This project was a steppingstone project. I’m making the strides to be a legitimate artist and make legitimate big records. That’s been the vision and direction from the jump. What I’m most proud of is that we’re keeping my original style and giving it a feeling of evolution as opposed to deserting it, so my fans feel comfortable, cause it’s still me. The records just feel bigger. We’ve got a record called “I’m Not Sorry,” and that’s the song we’re getting ready to do a radio move with. I think there are two or three songs on here with a lot of radio potential, and the rest is meaningful. A lot of this is meaningful. If someone sits down and listens, they’ll see I say real shit. I understand people want to get drunk and I’m the college party rapper, but if you listen to this album in full, you’ll hear a lot of meaningful stuff.

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On debuting at No. 1 on the iTunes Hip-Hop Charts and No. 2 Overall:

[Laughs] That was a little over the top. I wouldn’t say that I saw it coming. I definitely thought we’d get in the top three on iTunes hip-hop, but it was pretty shocking to see it go this high overall. But at the same time I wasn’t that surprised. My fans are avid fans. If you really like me, you really like me. It just goes to show that the type of fans you get when you do it completely organic. When I dropped the mixtape, A Toast To Tommy, I had like 6000 followers and I put it out for free and put it on iTunes. Dude, the first night it went to No. 3 on the hip-hop charts and I had a tiny fanbase.

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On the indie rapper grind:

Once my foot was in the door a little bit — I was honestly unaware of this whole internet rap thing going on. But once I came to understand the whole underground blog thing, I came across Mac Miller and I saw these viral videos that were drawing a lot of attention. He had a lot of videos out the gate, and I kind of mocked that business plan. I did like four or five singles with videos before any mixtapes, and before you knew it, I had a million views between the five of them. Then I got into doing shows pretty quickly and then dropped this A Toast To Tommy mixtape, a reference to the surgery, like 16 months ago. Now, we have the tools in motion to follow the Macklemore blueprint kind of, and how those singles have driven his success and his album’s success.

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