Tyrone “NIDDY” Buckner, Co-producer, A&R, and President of Billboard Entertainment Group LLC, first made K-pop headlines in 2012 with his crossover co-collaboration between the US producer Bruce “Automatic” Vanderveer and JYJ‘s own Kim Junsu. The lyrically English track, Uncommitted, was the first official solo English song ever released by the artist and upon its release, it earned the number one spots on both Gaon weekly albums chart and Amazon Japan’s album charts, and peaked at number twenty on US iTunes. In July 2013 NIDDY, along with Automatic, co-collaborated with Junsu once again for the title track of the artist’s second solo album, Incredible. The summer party track hit album charts in a big way, charting well on Gaon, Amazon, and US iTunes, and snagged a coveted fifth place spot on the US Billboard charts.
With JYJ’s release of its third studio album, Just US, in August 2014, fans saw another side of JYJ’s ever evolving career and responded in kind by solidifying over 120,000 copies sold in pre-sales and helping sky rocket the album up to number one on the Gaon monthly album and Hanteo weekly charts, number three on Japan’s Oricon weekly album charts, and hitting number four on Billboard’s World Album charts.With the success of Just US fresh in our minds, we sat down with NIDDY once again to get more insight on the track Valentine, more on the enigmatic group that is K-pop’s JYJ, and his thoughts on K-pop’s true viability in the western market.
With your previous experience working with members of JYJ, how did you come to be a part of their latest album?
ND: “When CJeS first approached me it was to help JYJ break into the US market. So, that was the first initiation into everything. Initially, there was never supposed to be a solo project. I was brought in just to work with the entire group and through the success and hard work of me bringing so much music to the table, and the fact that JYJ was sort of split between acting and music at the time, it put me in a position to work on Junsu’s solo projects while they started to amp up for the group comeback. When we initially recorded Uncommitted, and we were working on Incredible, we also worked on other tracks that hadn’t been released. Valentine being one of them.”
The song, Valentine, became a hit with the fans rather quickly. How did you go about choosing the song and what made it, in your mind, a perfect fit for JYJ’s new album?
ND: “When we were originally choosing tracks for the entire group, I went through a ton of records and traveled all around the country trying to find songs that I felt were going to be able to destroy the US Charts. For me, it wasn’t just about making the records and making it hit big in the US, Asia, or even South America. It was really about finding the track that would allow us to break JYJ here in the US in a big way. I went around and worked with well known artists such as Timbaland, YMCMB, Swizz Beatz, Pharrell Williams, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Dr. Dre, Chris Brown, and so many huge producers that were just hit makers in search of the perfect songs for the group. I came back to the table with a lot of different options but it was Valentine (originally cut by Chris Brown) that really spoke to me. I knew, the second I heard the track, that this was the one; the one the boys could totally kill.”
With the song originally being recorded and written by Chris Brown, did you believe that JYJ would be able to do the track justice? And if so, do you feel that they did indeed live up to your expectations?
ND: “Absolutely. The great thing about working with both JYJ and C-JeS, at that time, was that C-JeS made a really smart move, which was bring in someone that has their ear to the ground outside of what they think is happening or is trending, and I hope to see more K-pop labels do the same. What C-JeS did before we even got started working, was to give me an on opportunity to get to know the group (and their stuff) on a personal level. How they formed. How they worked. And how their fans responded to their music. They gave me the opportunity to listen to their previous works, music they had created before and that gave me an understanding of where they wanted to go. So when we decided on Valentine being the record, I knew how to put all the people in place and execute the record so they would be able to achieve the sound and the feel of the track perfectly. This record is so special because its a collaboration between some of the biggest names in the business. When JYJ came in, they did a phenomenal job – even far better than my already high expectations. I knew that they were going to be great, that they were going to pull it off, and they did.”
It has been several years, and several albums ago, since JYJ (as a whole) have release an English track, what made you decide that they could not only sing a track in full English but also do it well?
ND: “The initial English collaboration with Kanye West was good, even though that particular record didn’t pan out as well as it should have. With it, I really got to see that these guys could really execute an English record well, if done right. So, we really took our time on the track, and JYJ really took the time to understand the lyrics, emotions, and delivery of the track. They were very patient when we were in the studio. They worked hard and made sure to do it right.”
What was your experience like working with the C-Jes executives and staff during the process of producing Valentine?
ND: “My experience while working with C-JeS staff was actually very pleasant, during the pre-production and production of Valentine. C-JeS staff are very energetic, fun, vibrant, professional people and they were phenomenal. To be the only African American among them, when business was taking place, was a lot to take in but the C-JeS staff and managers made me feel really comfortable and part of the family. Ray Yeom, Director of C-JeS America, did a really good job of bringing a team together and managing the relationships between the C-JeS USA and C-JeS Korea. It was a wonderful experience.
How were you able to bring so many award winning producers, songwriters, vocal producers and engineers to work with a K-pop group like JYJ?
ND: “I SOLD K-pop. Everybody on that particular record already knew about K-pop but it just wasn’t viable for them at the time. What I was able to do in the process was to show them what JYJ has done. I said “Look at who they are, what they’ve done in the past, and more importantly, look at their fan base.” With that information in hand, I was able to explain who JYJ is, who their fans really are, and explain the difference between their fans and the particular person’s fans. The K-pop fans’ drive, determination, and unwavering support, really struck a cord in them.”
What were some of the challenges you had in working with JYJ and their label on this project?
ND: “Some of the challenges, when working with the groups, were really getting the label to understand the process when working with major US artists and producers. You take a group who are superstars in Asia, and have earned a massive amount of respect overseas, and then bring them here to work with US artists who are superstars in their own right, sometimes there can be economical differences and misunderstandings of artistic arrangement. So, that was a very difficult part of the process, getting a meeting of the minds so-to-speak.”
What were your experiences like, meeting and spending time, with the three members of JYJ? Are there any unique differences between the members, that you had a chance to notice, that you would like to share?
ND: “The first time we had a chance to hang out and get know each other was when they were on tour in 2012. When we started to work together on all the previous projects, along with Valentine, it was more of an intimate setting. They were a lot more comfortable around me so I got to know each member individually.”
ND: “The first person that really opened up around me was definitely Yoochun. Producer Jay TRaX and I actually gave Yoochun a new nickname after getting to know him better. We dubbed him “hip-hop” because he’s just got this swag. Maybe it was because he spent a lengthy amount of time in the US in his younger years, or maybe because he felt more at home with us, I don’t know. But he was always comfortable around us and always cracking jokes.”
ND: “In the studio, one of greatest times I had with JYJ was when Junsu and Jaejoong were sitting on the couch (Yoochun was standing off to the side) and we were going over lyrics. I started singing the lyrics, really getting into it, and Junsu gets up and starts moving and singing along. Junsu just goes crazy and you see Jaejoong just sitting there all cool, calm and collected like it was completely normal.”
ND: “One of the funniest experiences I shared with Jaejoong was right before we headed out to Supper Club Hollywood. In the photo, from that night that’s been floating around (pictured above), you see Jaejoong sitting in the in the driver’s seat of a convertible Rolls Royce, me in the passenger seat, and Junsu and Francis Kim sitting in the back, but we were really just sitting there posing. The truth is that Jaejoong didn’t want to drive because he didn’t know where he was going at the time. Junsu’s just chilling in the back, laughing away because of something Jaejoong said in Korean. I didn’t know what he said but I sure got how adamant he was about not driving. So the management comes to me and says “Hey NIDDY, Why don’t you drive?”. I’m like “I really don’t want to do it.” because I didn’t want to be responsible for the car or be responsible for JYJ getting into an accident or something while they were in the US. And they respond with “But you’re family. You worked hard so you should get to enjoy the benefits too.” So I get in the driver’s and while I am driving, we’re all laughing at the fact that neither Jaejoong or I could figure out how to work the car’s high-tech stereo system. Jaejoong’s looking at it, I am looking at it, he’s fiddling with it, I’m fiddling with, and we just had absolutely had no clue how to get it to work. It was hilarious.”
After spending so much time with JYJ on a one-on-one personal basis, how would you best describe their uninhibited personalities? What are they like behind the scenes, away from the cameras?
ND: “The first thought that comes to mind is that they are TRUE brothers. When they are really comfortable around you, you really get to see how they are real brothers to one another. They play around and tease each other all the time while having not only a deep love for one another but also an even deeper respect.”
ND: “If I were to describe Yoochun’s personality, I would say that he’s the risk taker, the bad boy, who’s fun, versatile, and confident. Junsu, is just downright silly, chipper, and playful. Maybe it’s because he’s the youngest of the group, or maybe it’s because he is just that way by nature, I don’t know but he really gives off an air of being very extra-special. Jaejoong, however, is really unlike the other two. He is more the reserved, chill, contemplative, and driven big brother. You can just tell that he cares about his brothers and really wants to do what’s best for them, to look out for them like the big brother he is.”
Do you believe Valentine can be a top Billboard charting record in USA?
ND: “Absolutely. I do believe that Valentine can top the Billboard charts. If the fans want to see JYJ reach other territories in the global music industry and want to see JYJ become this huge mega group beyond Korea and Asia, then it’s up to the fans to take this track to the next level. Because, this is the record that can actually cross over into the global mainstream market and make radio worldwide. And KILL. All the fans have to do is show their power. This track can give the fans the voice they’ve always wanted, the voice to be able to bring Valentine, and tracks like it, to mainstream radio.”
What are your thoughts about K-pop collaborations with American award winning talent in the future?
ND: “I think it’s coming in a big way. It just comes back to the point of having someone understanding the value of it all and push the agenda. That’s what I want to do. I want to prove that K-pop collaborations are the next step in the music industry’s evolution. Collaborative tracks and co-performances on stage, between K-pop artists and US artists, are the future. If the fans challenge both industries to do more, you will see many MANY more collaborations like Valentine in the future, for sure.”
We know that you were the driving force behind the hit records Uncommitted and Incredible for JYJ’s own Kim Junsu. How does it feel to have now released a track with the entire group?
ND: “It feels absolutely amazing because its been so many years that C-JeS has been talking about this group coming back together. The fans were getting just completely impatient. Nobody even knew if these guys were going to have a comeback or not because their careers were just going in so many directions for the longest time. From acting and musicals, to solo projects, modelling, and sports, you just didn’t know if JYJ was ever going to come back. I never knew if this record would ever make an album because they were so busy with everything else. I was extremely excited and just overjoyed that the album finally came out. Its a complete blessing.”
Are there any other records you worked or are working on with JYJ?
ND: “We do have some phenomenal tracks that are still in the cans, waiting to be released, and I can’t wait till the world can experience them.”
Were you able to introduce JYJ to any other major American talent?
ND: “Yes. I introduced them to YMCMB, Timbaland, Swizz Beatz, Nicki Minaj, Drake, Tank, Dr. Dre., P. Diddy, Duane Darock, Will.I.AM, Nelly, NO I.D, Bryan Michael Cox, JUKEBOX, Jimmy Ivine, Twista, and FLO RIDA.”
Is anyone you would like to thank?
ND: “First of all, I would like to thank hellokpop for always being so supportive. I also want to thank C-JeS for giving me the opportunity to work with the fellas. I obviously want to thank JYJ. Its been an absolute pleasure working with them and I’m looking forward to many more opportunities with them in the years to come. I want to thank the entire team that worked on this project: Lonny Bereal, Charlie Bereal, Chris Brown, Charmelle Colfield, Beau Vallis, Jaycen Joshua, and DJ Mark Da Spot; Ray Yeom, Francis Kim, Jerrold Thompson, and most definitely the fans because they are the reason why I do what I do. So thank you fans for always being supportive of JYJ and for continually supporting what I’m doing.”
Last but not least, what do want the world to know about you and your affiliation with the success of K-pop in the USA?
ND: “I want the world to know that I’m passionate about the collaborative possibilities with K-pop and American artists, and its the future. I am one of those people out there, if the given the opportunity, I can make it happen for these major K-pop labels and bring more awareness to the US market. So we can really take this thing to the next level.”
Source: Billboard Entertainment Group LLC
Additional Sources: CJeS Entertainment, YouTube
Shared by: JYJ3
Tagged: Junsu, JUST US, JYJ, Tyrone "Niddy" Buckner, Uncommitted, Valentine
“We do have some phenomenal tracks that are still in the cans, waiting to be released, and I can’t wait till the world can experience them.”
-Is he referring to JUST US album? Or an another upcoming Album?
Btw, nice move CJ-eS entertainment!
LOVE U JYJ!!!!
It would be fantastic for JYJ to do another US tour! Uncommitted is one of my favs!
“Look at who they are, what they’ve done in the past, and more importantly, look at their fan base.” With that information in hand, I was able to explain who JYJ is, who their fans really are, and explain the difference between their fans and the particular person’s fans. The K-pop fans’ drive, determination, and unwavering support, really struck a cord in them.”
The biggest, coolest fan base ever, now I’m becoming a fans of jyj fans #lol.
“They are REAL brothers.”
Even he can sense the unseen bond between the three, I just love them so much ♥♥
Great News,,,,,,,Amazing JYJ3
Love his description of each member.
Yuchun with swag as Hip-Hop. He’s so much like that on stage.
Junsu exploding to the music. For all his vocal abilities, he really understands music by dancing to it, from bts videos.
And Jae as the stable elder brother. I think he is different as an individual, but as part of JYJ that really is his role.
And true brothers pretty much defines JYJ.
that’s a great article which truly describes jyj 🙂
Really wish “Valentine” wasn’t co written by Chris Brown. I’m missing out, I can’t support him (CB) so my album is one song short, I can’t buy the physical album. Some of that money would go to CB’s pocket. I wish I could. I want the album. But I just can’t.
I wish this come back weren’t tinged with feeling that JYJ/CJES don’t care about DV. Wish I didn’t have to see nasty comments on other sites relating J and Y to CB. I wish they could have thought a bit more about CB and his reputation. Niddy you and JYJ and CJES could have found another great song-one that isnt co written by a notorious violent abuser. I would love to get behind a song like that. I’m sorry Niddy, I can’t support this.
I’m sorry if this offends anyone. It’s just one person’s feelings and opinion. I don’t mean to hurt or offend. It hurts me, and while I’m happy they are happy, I struggle with this.
i don’t mean any harm….So Please Have Heart. you don’t support chris??…, but if i Remember correctly jyj also had some rough times too involving those very same elements….js. your only struggle is that somehow you have managed to Forgive and Forget one person’s faults while keeping the other accountable. . we all fall down, make wrong turns and bad decisions….Please Try To Remember that when you find yourself in a position of wanting Mercy and Grace.
Hi Pinky, thank you for responding to my comment.
I don’t agree that JYJ and CB had “rough times involving theses very same elements.”
I believe Jaejoong did the wrong thing in striking and scolding a saesang who stalked him night and day. This happened once and Jae has apologized. Depending on your point of view, he either defended himself against her or committed physical assault. It’s an isolated incident, never happened again as far as I can tell.
Chris Brown beat his partner, causing horrible injury to her, a woman who trusted and loved him. He aplogized and she forgave him. He admitted it and received probation.
Since then he has gone to prison more then once for violating probation. His GF took him back saying if he beat her again it would be over. She broke up with him again. Most recently he assaulted a fan. To me these aren’t the actions of a repentant person. I think CB is a very talented but very troubled person. I can’t support him in any way.
Domestic violence is so different to me then what Jae did. DV is a repeated pattern of the one you love physically and emotional abusing you. Of course we all deserve second chances. We do all make wrong turns and bad decisions. If CB truly changes then I would be able to support him.
As a survior of DV there has been precious little mercy and grace in my life, but thanks for your good wishes.
I respect your decision of not supporting CB, but neither one of us was in the car and from what I witnessed of his ex-girl she seems to have wee bit of history of striking people too…..neither here nor there, I guess. Could have been self defense on his part…js. Plus she went back to him, didn’t press charges, dated him again while he was in another relationship, and did songs with him too…I mean really. 2 Young and toxic personalities will make a mess…hell one alone is enough.:(
Now given that we know that CB is troubled and Jae and Chun is considered a blessing for their actions…..what do we do,what do we do??
At this point it doesn’t matter for CB, because even when given the opportunity, someone is going to come along and remind him. And if the ex-g and JYJ gave him a a second chance, then maybe, just maybe…..
I truly hate that you had to experience violence on any degree. My heart hurts for you. I would be BIIIIIGGG liar to say I never dealt with DV. To say hurt people, hurt people would be only half the truth. Some people just like to hurt others. But what I know is healing people or being denied to usually causes greater damage. But just as we are denied mercy and grace we still have the responsibility to give it. If you were without love would you want me to go without too??
Be Blessed anyway:)
I hope you have lots and lots of love in your life along with mercy and grace. Be blessed too. ^_^
Thank you for disagreeing so respectfully. We both have every right to our opinions.
no problems lovely 🙂
Ah. DV. Domestic Violence. Cheryl, I am not offended. You have stated my feelings and opinion, also. If Chris Brown were to step forward and announce that he was donating his share to an agency or program that deals with the effects of domestic violence, the song might be differently received. Truth to tell, “Backseat” is the song that sticks in my mind. I find myself humming the tune whenever I buckle the kids in their carseats. I struggle with that,
Thanks Rabi, thank you for responding. I love Creation- it sticks in my head all day long!
@Cheryl. I listened the whole day to the Just Us CD and couldn’t decide which track was my favourite. I went to sleep and then at 2.00 a m I woke up to the tune … in this life and far across the ocean… It was ringing in my ears in my sleep. That’s how I knew Creation was my fav and it still is.
Dear Cheryl, I feel so very badly about the DV you went thru. The fact that you still come back and listen to Korean/s says a lot about your generous and usually forgiving heart. When I listen to JYJ’s Pierrot, I cannot help thinking that JJ, who had the least family support (being away from home) and being the most beautiful among them, must have suffered a lot of abuse from their live-in manager. He composed Pierrot and tattooed Deferto Neminem on his chest. I have come to realize that JJ is a very wise man and I try to fololow lessons I learn from him. Facing your pain is very cathartic. It’s the first step to cleansing and liberating yourself from the nightmares you suffered. Write a letter to your abuser, pour out with venom all your anger and bitterness, whether you post it to him or not is not important. What is important is to let go of that hurt which you continue to harbour and which eats you from within. Tell yourself, you may forgive but you do not forget and take a fresh look at life so that you can live it and not suffer it. Much love and hope you will take the path to recovery.
Thank you for your kind comment and good wishes. Much love to you too.
“Junsu gets up and starts moving and singing along. Junsu just goes crazy and you see Jaejoong just sitting there all cool, calm and collected like it was completely normal.” XD I can picture it so well, the most hilarious part would be Jaejoong’s poker face!
I agree with his description of each of their personalities. You can definitely see YC cool swagger on stage. But I would add risk taker and confident to Junsu description. Also, I know what he means when he says Junsu gives off an air of being very extra-special. I do not know how to decribe it but to me JS has this special something, maybe its charm about him that just shines all the time. And the fans feel it all the time. Also, I think that JJ is probably like he describe when he is around YC and JS depending on who is around. Because you know from other pictures or videos he is totally the free spirited, fun and out going type of guy. I think he is always in big brother mode over YC and JS, but even more so depending what is going on. I just think he becomes very protective over them, if that makes sense.
“If I were to describe Yoochun’s personality, I would say that he’s the risk taker, the bad boy, who’s fun, versatile, and confident. Junsu, is just downright silly, chipper, and playful. Maybe it’s because he’s the youngest of the group, or maybe it’s because he is just that way by nature, I don’t know but he really gives off an air of being very extra-special. Jaejoong, however, is really unlike the other two. He is more the reserved, chill, contemplative, and driven big brother. You can just tell that he cares about his brothers and really wants to do what’s best for them, to look out for them like the big brother he is.”
I just love this comment and totally agree!!! This is why JYJ make sense and work!!!!!!
“ND: “The first thought that comes to mind is that they are TRUE brothers. When they are really comfortable around you, you really get to see how they are real brothers to one another. They play around and tease each other all the time while having not only a deep love for one another but also an even deeper respect.”
“He is more the reserved, chill, contemplative, and driven big brother.”
Lol this is the good boy Jaejoong description.
I’m sure if language barrier is invisible here, Niddy sir, Jae would be showing his wild side to you.
Goodness he’s extreme XD
Aside from the hype and drama about Chris Brown, I wonder if people are talking about the song Valentine, how awesome the song itself, detaching all the names from it. How many were enticed to buy the album or become a JYJ fan because of the song or have as their #1 standout, how many concert attendees have Valentine as one of their most anticipated parts. I usually skip Valentine when I listen to the whole album and my dislike has nothing to do with CB since I have some of his songs in my assorted playlist. Did JYJ’s investment (in terms of $$$ and effort) on that song paid off ? just thinking with my keyboard, lol.