The Pro Era movement that DJ-producer Powers Pleasant co-founded has been going strong since it first grabbed the attention of boom-bap tastemakers and new-school backpackers in 2012. But the Brooklyn-bred collective broke new ground thanks to “Devastated,” the Joey Badass anthem that was co-produced by Kirk Knight, Adam Pallin, and Pleasant himself.
The inspirational single went platinum in January—a first for Pro Era—and has put an brightened spotlight on the crew, a new level of attention that Powers is more than ready for. This spring the 24-year-old will release his debut LP after years of proving himself to be a top-notch tour DJ for Joey and fellow Beast Coast duo the Underachievers, as well as a talented rising producer.
The project’s lead single “Pull Up” is another potent taste of what Powers has to offer. Featuring ASAP Ferg and Joey, the soon-to-be summer heater has a rugged hook that’s sure to appeal to the streets. Denzel Curry, SuperduperKyle, IDK, Flatbush Zombies, and more will also pop up on the LP, which is sure to be full of heaters.
Powers has already shown his rhythmic gifts and versatility throughout his short discography, which features a style that moves through stadium-status accessibility and colorful, Neptunes-like synths. That free-flowing style has more eyes on Powers than ever, but he doesn’t feel much pressure. After all, he was born for this.
The future hitmaker grew up in Clinton Hill and Fort Greene, Brooklyn neighborhoods known for breeding the likes of Erykah Badu, Mos Def, and Talib Kweli. Powers remembers attending his jazz drummer father’s gigs since he was a baby: “I think the first time I learned to walk was at one of his gigs.” His mother, a dancer, introduced him to the eclectic sounds of the Neptunes—his main influence when it comes to production.
Powers turned his attention to music and DJ’ing at Edward R. Murrow High School, where he met a like-minded music fanatic and eventual collaborator in Courtney Jamal Dewar, Jr.—a.k.a. Capital STEEZ. A fan of his precocious rhyming ability, Powers befriended STEEZ and discussed idea of making a hip-hop collective. The two linked up with fellow Edward R. Murrow High School attendee Joey Badass, and a day after a talent show in Fort Greene, Pro Era was born.
The acclaim came quickly. Joey Badass and Capital STEEZ’s “Survival Tactics” put Pro Era on the map and the Joey’s 2012 debut 1999 made some immediate noise. After a one-semester stint at Berklee College of Music, Powers joined his crew mates the following year traveling and DJing on the Beast Coast Tour.
The exciting year ended in tragedy when Capital STEEZ died on December 23, 2013. Powers spent the holidays mourning the loss of a close friend for the first time in his life. Amidst his personal grief, Powers noticed the love and condolences that were coming from the fans they’ve gained in a little over a year. “It made me realize how many eyes were on us with all the people who were shouting out STEEZ.” In their friend’s honor, Powers and the Pro Era crew continued onward.
Five years and several projects from his fellow Pro Era brethren later, Powers Pleasant plans to step into the spotlight to show off his brilliant sounds, how far he’s progressed as an artist, and his ambition. “I want to not just make hits, but music that people love and can connect to.”
Powers Pleasant’s tracks