Even if you haven’t been following Brooklyn rapper Joey Badass’ slow, steady rise over the last six years as the leading force of New York’s new rap scene — informed by throwback vibes and a foundation built on the hip-hop forebearers who came before him — you’ve probably heard “Devastated.”
Off his most recent album, last year’s All Amerikkkan Badass, the woozy, anthemic song starts small, as Joey recalls the long, hard road to success, and then explodes into a triumphant chorus, crackling with victory that works as a wordplay on the despondent lyric.
While he had a cult fanbase since the release of his breakout mixtape in 1999 in 2012, it was “Devastated” that put him and his Pro Era crew on the map in a new way — the song went platinum and racked up over 14 million views on Youtube to date. And it wouldn’t exist without the behind-the-boards genius of Powers Pleasant.
Powers is one of the co-founders of the Pro Era crew, along with the now fallen Capital Steez, who tragically committed suicide in 2012. He serves as Joey’s DJ on tour, and has produced and collaborated on a number of the songs that helped turn Joey into a star. Now, he’s stepping into the spotlight too. Powers is prepping the release of his own solo material, starting with an initial EP that comes on the heels of his signing to Commission Music (Lil Dicky, Madeintyo, Derez De’Shon, IDK), and the release of an initial collab, “Pull Up” featuring Joey and ASAP Ferg.
The song’s video game-inspired beat is immediately addictive, and so is the simple, clever hook — more proof that Powers knows his way around a hook, solidifying him as a defining force in Pro Era’s movement. Currently out on tour with Joey while prepping the drop of his own EP, Powers found the time to answer some of my questions about his background growing up in Fort Greene, his process for producing hits like “Devastated,” and what we can expect from his continued evolution as a solo artist.