Kanye West is so busy launching his new album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, AND attacking Matt Lauer it's a wonder he has time for anything else these days. But fortunately he had a minute for one thing: the bombastic rapper lent his talents to Korean pop trio JYJ, who have dominated the Asian charts for seven years but are now making their first foray into the U.S. music scene.
"We wanted everything to be perfect before doing this," band member Junsu, 23, tells Usmagazine.com. "The music scene here is so inspiring -- and the first album we put out had to be great. A lot of hard work went into it."
Besides West, the band also recruited legendary producer Rodney Jerkins, who's crafted mega hits for everyone from Michael Jackson to Mary J. Blige. "They're interested in the music scene in Asia, so that's how this came about," explains Yuchun, 24. "Working with Kanye and Rodney was an honor -- we really came up with some great ideas. Our first single off the new album, "Ayyy Girl," features Kanye on production and on the track… I still get excited when I hear it."
And West tells Usmagazine.com: "These guys work the hardest. I'm looking forward to doing more with them."
Still, the guys have had one hard task at hand:"We're Korean but doing our best to become fluent in English," admits Jaejung, 24. "We're having lessons every day. It took a while to conquer some of the pronunciation." However, Yuchun says it's totally worth it: "I really love America and the mentality of people here - it's a very open-minded country." (On the flip-side? Taxes. "There are so many for everything!" he laughs).
Oh, and one more thing ladies. All three members are ridin' solo! "But there are celebrity girls we like," admits Yuchun." Gwyneth Paltrow's tall and so pretty." Adds Jaejung: "In the past I loved Avril Lavigne, but then she got married… Then I loved Beyonce and she got married too. I don't know why all the girls I like end up taken!" As for Junsu: "I just want to be rumored dating someone on the cover of Us -- 'Hot New Couple!'"
The band is currently finishing showcase tours of New York, Las Vegas and Los Angeles and are keen to get started on the video for their next single, "Empty." "We've got some great concepts and hope to start filming next month," Jaejung reveals. "I hope everyone enjoys it." Adds Junsu:"We want to put our all in to this and work hard." He also admits that they don't take holidays. "We can sleep and rest when we're older!"
JYJ's The Beginning hits the iTunes store on November 16. Check out a preview of their second single, the Jerkins-produced "Empty," above!