Justin Bieber released his sixth studio album Justice on March 19, and the record was packed with 16 songs. For the most part, Beliebers have been praising the album, but halfway through the record, JB included an interlude that many fans had questions about. His inclusion of Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1967 sermon titled “But If Not” had some fans calling the interlude opportunist and downright random. Bieber has since addressed the controversy, creating an open dialogue about his decision to include the audio. Justin Bieber's response to criticism for including an MLK speech on Justice is worth a listen.
Bieber spoke out about the backlash during a conversation on the Clubhouse app on March 30. While he promised his intentions were good, he said he understood where the criticism came from.
“Being Canadian… they didn’t teach us about Black history,” Bieber explained. “It was just not a part of our education system. I think for me, coming from Canada and being uneducated and making insensitive jokes when I was a kid and being insensitive and being honestly just a part of the problem because I just didn’t know better.”
JB continued by explaining why that specific moment from MLK stood out to him. “I think for me to have this platform to just share this raw moment of Martin Luther King in a time where he knew he was going to die for what he was standing up for... I was willing to go through as much hate by putting that on the album,” he said.
You can hear the interlude for yourself below.
Most importantly, Bieber expressed his desire to continue learning in the future.
“I want to keep growing and learning about just all social injustices and what it looks like for me to be better, what it looks like for my friends to be better. And I know I have a long way to go. I love that when people are listening to my album, these conversations are coming up and they’re like, ‘Well, how is he going from Martin Luther King into a love song?’” he said.
JB was also sure to say the artistic choice was meant to highlight King's work, but he expected to face judgment of some sort.
“I’m not trying to make a connection between me and Martin Luther King. That’s why I never try to talk about social injustice or I didn’t want to be the one to talk about it because I just have so much more learning to do. But I have this man who was ready to die and what he believed to be true. If I’m not willing to face some sort of ridicule or judgment of people wondering my motives or whatever that is, for me, it was a no-brainer.”
You can hear a snippet of the Clubhouse conversation below.
Ahead of the album's release, Bieber took to Twitter to speak on what Justice means to him.
As much as some fans say Bieber missed the mark this time around, he doesn't seem to have any regrets.