Leah Greenblatt
March 30, 2007 AT 04:00 AM EDT

People on the street have no problem approaching 26-year-old Shawn Mims and telling him exactly why they’re hot. ”Most of them describe something physical about themselves, which is cool. I’m not mad at that,” he says good-naturedly. ”But my explanation is my mentality — it doesn’t have to be physical. It’s an attitude, being hot.” Hotness has not always characterized the New York City native’s life. Take his former career, which he quit in 2001 to pursue music: ”I did inspections to make sure people’s houses weren’t infested, because termites will wreck your house up. It was a pretty weird job.” Thankfully, music is now a full-time occupation — and more. Mims’ giddily boastful ”This Is Why…” recently topped the Billboard Hot 100, and has quickly become one of the best-selling ringtones of all time; a second single, ”Like This,” is in the pipeline. Then there’s the hidden meaning in his moniker: ”Since my last name is Mims, I came up with Music Is My Savior,” also the title of his tour and new album — which, of course, he thinks are totally hot too.

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