A true belie- ber
HOW do you anger Justin Bieber? Ask him about his lyrics. Or, more specifically, who they’re about. Background: We’re talking to Justin Bieber about his second studio album, Believe.
Security is tight. If anyone is going to leak the record it’ll be the teenager himself, who is in the midst of drip- feeding songs to fans via Twitter.
‘‘ My fans have been waiting for a long time,’’ he says.
‘‘ And I’ve been waiting for a long time for them to hear it. The anticipation is definitely killing me.’’ Don’t worry, he’ll live. On one track, As Long As You Love Me, Bieber uses the phrase ‘‘ I’ll be your Hova’’ to his mystery lady’s ‘‘ Destiny’s Child’’. It is clearly a Jay- Z reference. ‘‘ Uh- huh,’’ Bieber grunts in affirmation. Hova is rapper Jay- Z’s nickname, kids. He’s married to Beyonce. Who was in Destiny’s Child.
And here’s where the Bieb steams up a little. The lyrics are incredibly loved- up. When asked if this is a song for Selena ( referring to Selena Gomez, the woman who’s been Bieber’s partner for the past few years), a frost immediately comes down the phone line from Mexico.
‘‘ Why do you presume that?’’ he shoots back.
I tentatively reply: ‘‘ Because it’s a love song?’’ ‘‘ OK . . . [ deathly pause].’’ After another morbidly long pause he replies: ‘‘ It’s not not for her. I don’t know.’’ There you go. It’s not not for her. So taking a different tack, I ask Bieber to talk about the song, considering, you know, he wrote it.
Does he get something off his chest? Does it put his side of the story out there?
‘‘ When you hear it you’ll know what I was thinking,’’ Bieber says. Checkmate, Bieb. ‘‘ It’s cool to be able to talk about things you can’t really talk about in interviews, just being able to say how I felt.’’
There’s the media- trained side of the Bieb coming out. He’s smart enough to know any soundbite he gives to a journalist is going to sell their product.
On to happier subjects. Bieber has a swag of collaborations on Believe.
There’s Canadian rapper Drake. ‘‘ He is like a big brother,’’ Bieb says. He also worked with Kanye West. ‘‘ There’s stuff with Kanye; he’s not rapping, he’s just helping me produce.’’
Nicki Minaj raps on Beauty and a Beat, where she rhymes ‘‘ Bieber’’ with ‘‘ ether’’ and reportedly mentions Gomez.
‘‘ Uh- huh,’’ Bieber semi- clarifies.
There are some things Bieber is more verbose about when discussing Believe.
He could have rushed it. However, he did not.
‘‘ I wanted to make it right, not just put it out,’’ he says.
‘‘ I could have done that a while ago. I wanted to take time to make it the perfect album.’’
Luckily there was that Christmas album, Under the Mistletoe, last year to keep the brand kicking over in the quiet times.
Yes, there was pressure around following up his mammoth debut.
‘‘ Putting pressure on yourself is a good thing,’’ he says.
‘‘ It pushes you to be better. With this album there is a lot of pressure, definitely, but it pushed me to be the best I could be.’’
One report claimed the pressure was so intense Bieber even contemplated quitting. True or just a media exaggeration? ‘‘ No, that’s true,’’ he says. ‘‘ There are always times you get down, you don’t know if it’s all worth it.
‘‘ In the end I’m very blessed and I wouldn’t change it for the world.’’
What gets Justin Bieber down about his job?
‘‘ Being away from friends and family, stuff like that.’’
Luckily Bieber’s got a mentor who understands how to transition from teen star to a long- term career: Usher.
He helped Bieber get his record deal and maintains an eagle eye on his movements. He’s an executive producer of Believe.
When asked about Bieber in an earlier interview, Usher said: ‘‘ The expansion he’s been able to show through this album speaks to the growth of who he is as an artist and as an individual’’.
‘‘ And it speaks to the career he’s going to have which is full of longevity,’’ Usher said.
To this, Bieber replies: ‘‘ In everything I do I don’t plan for the moment, I’m planning for my future.’’