My first hit song blew up on the radio first. "I'm Awesome" got picked up by the local alt-rock station in my town, the radio station I'd grown up on. It quickly became the most requested song there and then jumped to the local pop station. Keep in mind I'd only self-released two albums at this point. I was very new to the game, and suddenly the two biggest local radio stations were playing the s**t out of my stuff, which was unprecedented. No local artist had ever broken through at pop radio in my area (Portland, Maine, is not exactly known for its burgeoning rap game).
The way the world works now, if you're blowing up on the radio, you're killing on iTunes, too. I think there's an intern at Universal who goes through the regional iTunes charts every week, from Des Moines to Albuquerque, and looks for outliers.
"We know all the other guys on here. Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, Ke$ha ... who the hell is Spose?"
So this intern looked at the Portland sales and saw that I had the #1 song. I doubt I cracked the top 200 nationwide, but that was enough to get their attention. At this point, I was 24 years old and totally broke, delivering pizzas and raising a newborn. The day Universal sent me a $35,000 check for signing on with their label, my bank account was at -$800. I couldn't even buy gas for my car without overdrafting my account again -- one generally doesn't hear Jay-Z rapping about bank fees and bus passes.
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