Noah Powa is no pushover in the frenzied, competitive world of Dancehall music. The Grammy-nominated artist, actor, and selector’s latest is a ladies anthem titled Drop, a bass-heavy banger gaining traction globally. Born and raised in Jamaica, Powa migrated to New York in his teens, and has been putting down roots in the city’s Arts scene since then. Now an established all-around entertainer, Powa’s stomping grounds include Red Bull Culture Clash stages as well as VP Records’ Reggae Gold compilations.
Drop appears on the album’s 2021 lineup and, notably, has also been featured on the Zumba Fitness platform among other “exhilarating, international rhythms”. Powa credits the track’s Swedish/Spanish producer for the synth-pop sound that’s now launched his name into new territories. The No Stress deejay sat down with DancehallMag to discuss the track’s impact, mentorship from Shaggy, and which Dancehall/Reggae acts he’d choose for the next Verzuz style match-up.
Your new song Drop is a huge success. The song was included on Reggae Gold 2021 and has been officially added to the Zumba Fitness playlist. Has the response surpassed your expectations especially being released during the pandemic?
Honestly, because of the type of song it is, I just figured it was gonna be that type of vibes. Actually, the producer is from Sweden, he sent the beat to me on Instagram, I was like, ‘oh, this is nice’ and I went in the studio and did it. It was more on an international level, so I expected that type of vibes.
Can fans expect a video? What concept do you envision based on the global response?
Because of what’s going on with the song internationally, I said I don’t want to just put out any video. So the video is trapped in my head right cause I’m trying to figure out how or what I’m gonna do to make it big. I was thinking dance crews in like a Step Up setting and stuff like that so fans can look out for it.
In 2019 you made your Reggae Sumfest debut, then the pandemic hit, affecting the entire entertainment sector. Was that discouraging or motivation rather to stay on the radar and produce hits like Drop?
Well, honestly I always tell people everything is like a blessing and a curse at the same time. It [the pandemic] helped me to push myself more and focus, trying to write more music and produce more songs. I was always the type of dude who saves and always promoting myself. I’ve always been a social media kind of person so it’s just helped me to gain more fans now.
Fast forward to 2021 when you appeared at both Angela Yee Day as well as SummerStage alongside Soca Queen, Alison Hinds. As a product of both ‘yard and abroad’, how does it feel to be seen as a representative for the culture in that way?
It feels good. It’s always a great feeling to represent your country and your culture and know that you’re doing a good job so that when people see it, dem can say him really represent as him should.
On your recent Breakfast Club interview, Charlamagne asked you to make him a playlist to put him on to the best in the business currently. What are the top 3 songs on that playlist?
Well, differently from my songs, in dancehall right now, I listen to a lot of Chronic Law music. I listen to a lot of Bugle stuff, he has an album coming out also. To clear my head more time I listen to a lot of conscious music, like I’ll just go way back to some Luciano. So I’m kind of different.
Internationally though, I’m listening to Essence by Wizkid & Tems, I listen that everyday. Giveon have a new song right now called For Tonight, and Bad Habits by Ed Sheeran.
What’s the next dancehall/reggae match up you’d like to see on Verzuz or in a Verzuz setting?
Me always hear dem seh Sean Paul and Shaggy. For me, Buju and Shabba would definitely work.
You have a range of singles from party starters (Drop) and ladies anthems (Like This, Feel It) to motivational tracks (Life Savior, Amen). Do you have a comfort zone or preference?
Honestly, I think I feel more comfortable doing positive music. I’ll take the challenge to do different stuff but I’m not gonna do any song talking about what I’m not gonna do. You’re not gonna get me singing about shooting and killing nobody. Mi nuh knock anybody who sing it, I’m just saying, that’s not me. I will listen somebody else, but I’m not gonna sing it because that’s not my lifestyle, yuh understand. So that’s why I mostly do conscious, motivational songs and girl songs because I’m about that life.
You gained popularity with your Bounty Killer impressions and it’s just been announced that the deejay signed on as lead actor in a Jamaican crime drama. As an actor who’s done similar projects, how did you react to the news?
Yeah, I seen it! I was excited for Bounty! Big up Bounty Killer!
In your short career, you’ve been featured on both Maxi Priest & Shaggy’s albums over many of your peers. What’s it like being recognized on that level by stalwarts in the genre?
Oh man! Big up to Shaggy cause Shaggy was the plug, he made that link with Maxi Priest cause he produced the album. Growing up as a likkle yute you always hear Wild World and Boombastic. You know yuh nah see dem man deh unless you ah go big stage shows cause dem more international. I was grateful to be part of it, it got nominated for a Grammy and stuff, so nuff love to Shaggy. Me and him also have a song on the 007 soundtrack out this week.
You said Shaggy gave you a lot of advice on the music business, everything from publishing to royalty splits. What’s the best piece of advice Shaggy shared?
He shared a lot when it comes to the business part of it. He taught me that when you’re even writing your music try to put a little bit of proper English in it. You never know what can happen. You never know if you’ll do a song and somebody gravitate to it because of that little part in English. Yuh haffi respect people like dat and show back di same respect, yuh understand. So love to Shaggy. A lot of artists who say dem hot need a person like Shaggy round them!
What’s next for Noah Powa?
I’m actually doing a lot of work. VP about to do a remix to Drop, and they got a big Spanish artist on it. I’m on Shaggy’s new album that comes out soon, I have a next song with Wyclef that’s not out yet.
We’re doing the work, it’s just for people now to gravitate to what we’re doing because I know I’m not doing any foolishness. I’m doing music people can relate to, enjoy themselves to and get inspired to, yuh understand.
Right now it’s whatever God mek happen for me. I’m just gonna continue working, I can’t call the future. Just gonna continue working and hope and pray for the best.
Ok, I have three This or That questions. Summer in Jamaica or New York? As in the vibes, shows, people overall.
Summer in Jamaica
Gimme Di Light or It Wasn’t Me?
It Wasn’t Me
Welcome To Jamrock or One of Those Days?
One of Those Days
Thanks, Noah Powa.