Former Duke relief pitcher goes to top of iTunes hip-hop charts

CorrespondentOctober 24, 2013 

Rapper Mike Stud will headline at the Cat’s Cradle on Tuesday.

COURTESY OF JON KILMER

  • Details

    Who: Mike Stud, with Justina and iamG, and Toon & the Real Laww

    When: 9 p.m. Tuesday

    Where: Cat’s Cradle, 300 E. Main St., Carrboro

    Cost: $12-$14

    Info: 919-967-9053 or catscradle.com

“My kind of entry into music was pretty strange,” says Michael Francis Seander Jr., better known to frat boys and sorority girls as Mike Stud. Actually, Stud’s story of becoming an up-and-coming, party-starting MC isn’t that strange.

It all started in Durham, when a young Seander came from Rhode Island to enroll in Duke University. Back in his home state, Seander racked up stats and honors as an athlete at St. Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, where he lettered in baseball and basketball. At Duke, he played baseball for the Blue Devils as a relief pitcher under former head coach Sean McNally.

Seander had quite a sweet start in his freshman year. As the team’s closer, he saved nine games in 28 appearances and earned a 1.61 ERA – but his baseball career was cut short in his sophomore year when arm issues required him to have Tommy John surgery (ulnar collateral ligament reconstruction). While he was recuperating, he decided to record a track for his teammates called “College Humor.”

“I made the song for jokes,” admits Seander, now 24, on the phone from Gainesville, Fla. “That’s the first song I ever made – and I made it in my room, by myself, and it’s very basic.”

The song eventually caught a buzz online, with its accompanying video amassing over a million hits to date on YouTube. With Seander now adopting the Mike Stud moniker (which was his social media alias while he was playing ball at Duke), he soon realized that there could be a future with this hip-hop stuff, especially since he felt his pitching skills weren’t up to par anymore.

“It was very frustrating to play a sport that, you know, I was once very successful at, to then just kind of feeling like I was mediocre – really, battling to get back to where I was,” he says. “And it was unfortunate, but the music thing just kind of felt like an omen because it just kind of happened simultaneously, as I was kind of coming to the realization that I wasn’t going to be a baseball player.”

Stud soon went from being a viral-video sensation to a full-fledged hip-hop artist.

He released a trio of mixtapes before independently releasing his full-length debut, “Relief,” earlier this year. When the album was released on iTunes, Stud posted photos on Twitter and Instagram showing that “Relief” was No. 1 on the iTunes hip-hop chart and No. 2 on the overall albums chart within its first 24 hours of release.

Stud, who’s relocating from Manhattan to Los Angeles soon, has gotten a nice collegiate following thanks to his BMOC swagger and raging kegger-appropriate tunes. But he says most of the songs on “Relief” are more introspective, a direction he hopes to keep following in his future work.

“My initial songs were, like, very fratty and kind of just college-esque,” he says. “Because I was in college and wasn’t being very serious. … It’s kind of ironic that it’s very much a case where I get pigeonholed a lot – like, just being kind of a party, college kid. But, if you take a real listen, it’s more than that.”

And now, after three years, Stud will be coming back to the Triangle, headlining at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro on Tuesday.

“Obviously, it’s exciting, and it’s gonna be nostalgic and cool to be back in that area,” he says. “I played baseball there, but I remember going down to Chapel Hill on nights off and I would go out there and have a good time. So, it’ll be cool to be back in that area again. I’m definitely excited.”

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