Meet Poo Bear, The Man Who Helped Justin Bieber Write “What Do You Mean”
Jason Boyd has a long, impressive history as an ace songwriter.
The Diplo, Skrillex, Justin Bieber collaboration “Where Are Ü Now” already cracked the top ten on the Hot 100 this summer, but it became an object of fascination for a different audience this week when The New York Times released a video detailing the song’s construction and suggesting it was “a case study in the way pop music is made today.”
One of the revelations of the clip is the importance of Jason Boyd, who goes by the name of Poo Bear and helped Bieber concoct the melody and lyrics that Skrillex and Diplo used as raw material for the smash. “Poo Bear is probably one of the best writers I’ve ever been able to work with,” Bieber declares in the video. (The group of writers he’s worked with also includes Rodney Jerkins, Drake, Babyface, the Dream, and Ariel Rechtshaid.) The singer burnished his accomplice’s reputation even more with just a few lines: “It was actually super weird for me at first,” Bieber remembers thinking when he heard the track. “I was like, ‘this is wrong, Poo Bear.’ He was like, ‘no, it’s right. It’s wrong right.’ I just had to get used to it.”
This week, Bieber is set to premiere his new single "What Do You Mean," which also came together with Poo Bear's assistance.
Who is the mysterious Poo Bear? Aside from a prolific set of songwriting credits, he mostly keeps a low profile. In an interview with The Examiner in 2013, Boyd said he was born in Connecticut and moved with his family to Atlanta around 1990. “Atlanta was just starting to become the new mecca of the music industry,” Boyd noted. “It was the new New York of the south.” There he eventually connected with the vocal group 112, which helped jumpstart a long career in songwriting and production. Catch up on a few of the pop savant’s biggest cuts.
One of Boyd’s early successes was co-writing “Peaches And Cream,” 112’s biggest crossover hit.
This is a blurping, lascivious track; Boyd worked in the same brash, sensual style when he helped write Glenn Lewis’ “Back For More” (2003) and Kelly Rowland’s “Work” (2007).
Boyd was one of many songwriters who had a hand in Usher’s Confessions, a landmark album for modern major-label R&B.
“Superstar” is the strongest of the three tracks that sport his name—it’s the ability to write tunes like this one that would eventually help him get in a room with a teen idol. Usher is in full commitment mode here: I'm your number one fan, give me your autograph, sign it right here on my heart.
Body spent some time working with '00s super-producer Scott Storch.
Boyd helped Bieber achieve the first step in his evolution away from teen star, co-writing almost every song on 2013's Journals.
The album surrounded Bieber with plush guitars and up-to-date hip-hop production, and Boyd directed him towards a style common in late ‘90s, early ‘00s R&B ballads—think Tony Rich’s “Nobody Knows,” R. Kelly’s “Don’t Put Me Out,” or Babyface’s “I Keep Callin.’”
Boyd also has two solo projects up on his SoundCloud page.
#Beats2MakeLove2 finds Boyd returning to the carnal style he favored on tunes like “Peaches And Cream.” On “Giver,” he pairs a ping-ponging, pleasantly off-kilter beat with boasts of guaranteed sexual satisfaction: Nothing else don't matter—like 51 Shades, I'ma add a new chapter.
The key to his success?
Boyd explained it this way: "I spend a lot of time writing and creating music, but the most important thing is... having them do stuff that they never knew that they were capable of doing." The stuff you might call "wrong right."