Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd is in the best shape of his life. This past summer, he moved from the music industry’s epicenter on the West Coast to South Florida — and he hasn’t looked back since.
Now, six months after the move, Poo Bear remains dedicated to living a healthier lifestyle and is preparing to release his most ambitious project to date.
“It’s going to be a journey,” Poo Bear tells New Times. “The music is amazing. We worked on it in Cannes and Geneva — different places. It’s gonna be world music, songs that we love, poems that were written, and I’ve turned them into songs. That’s why the name of the body of work is called The Book of Nabeel.”
On a sunny Friday, Poo Bear is sitting down with New Times to chat about the upcoming album, which is expected to drop sometime in February. His new single with Justin Bieber and Bryson Tiller, “Lonely Christmas,” dropped earlier on this day, even as audiences are still buzzing about his previous feel-good single, “Distant Shore.” The progressive-house-style record produced by Poo Bear, Sasha Sirota, and Shndō embodies the dance rhythm that Miami is known for.
“Distant Shore” is entirely different from the bulk of the producer’s work. Since the late ’90s, Poo Bear has brought forth a massive number of chart-topping records, like 112’s “Anywhere,” Usher’s “Caught Up,” and Chris Brown’s “I Can Transform Ya.” In the past four years alone, the veteran songwriter released his debut solo album and written some of the biggest songs to hit the airwaves, including a remix of Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee’s “Despacito,” featuring Justin Bieber, as well as Billie Eilish and Bieber’s remix for “Bad Guy.”
In 2021, Poo Bear leveled up in a couple of ways. Back in April, he signed a joint-venture agreement with Def Jam Recordings for his label Bearthday Music. He’s also worked with poet Nabeel Y. Zahid on his upcoming album and the followup to his 2018 debut, Poo Bear Presents Bearthday Music.
Last summer, he released “The Day You Left,” an R&B record with an electronic feel that he produced with Skrillex and Sasha Sirota. The single, along with “Distant Shore,” is slated to appear on The Book of Nabeels, which is based on Zahid’s poems. The process of flipping poems into songs is something new for Poo Bear, who’s used to writing hit singles for the likes of Usher, Mya, Fat Joe, Kelly Rowland, Ty Dolla Sign, Chris Brown, and J. Balvin.
When he’s not traveling the world, Poo Bear spends his time cooking up new music at his new home base inside Rich Music’s studio in Miami — home to rising stars like Sech and prominent Latin artists like J Quiles. The veteran musician is no stranger to reggaeton, especially after working with J. Balvin in 2015 and releasing “Just Gettin’ Started” with Nicky Jam, DJ Khaled, and Kent Jones in 2018. Yet, while working at the studio, he has been tapping into all kinds of world sounds, which we can expect to hear on his upcoming LP.
“I feel like, even more now, the energy is more like I wanna expand more with reggaeton,” Poo Bear says. “It’s not new to me, but [working at Rich Music] has been inspiring more of it. At the same time, I feel like I have so much to prove musically, and Miami is definitely a place that’s like everybody’s working and everybody’s going hard. So it’s inspiring to see that, and everybody’s focused on growing and going up.”
After penning multiple songs that have hit the Billboard charts over the years, one would think he would make an exciting contender for a Verzuz battle. But Poo Bear believes it would be difficult to find another artist who could match his success.
“That’s not fair if you think about it,” Poo Bear explains. “I co-wrote my first hit in 1996. They can’t battle me against anybody. I can’t do a Verzuz when I’m still actively on the charts. It’s not fair. Now, if you can find another songwriter-producer that’s still actively on the charts and that’s been on the charts since the ’90s, then maybe we can have a Verzuz.”
Poo Bear gives his props to Swizz Beatz and Timbaland for cooking up the concept for Verzuz and allows that the battle series is “fun and entertaining.” But it doesn’t sound like we’ll be watching Poo Bear go hit for hit on a Verzuz stage anytime soon. Maybe it’s for the best. Instead of battling his past, the producer is more focused on pushing his music forward.
“Forget about what I’ve done in the past,” Poo Bear says. “It’s great, and I’m blessed just to be able to show and prove and be a trendsetter and stay ahead of the curb. That’s always been my process of creating, and I’m never going to stop doing it like that. It’s just with this record, it was trying something new with the poem. I’m still always going to push music forward and make sure that I’m a part of the next sound. It’s really important.”