Justin Bieber’s battered public image and recent months of bad press, described by Jet magazine as a “media assassination,” have been frankly addressed by its cover star Chris Brown in a new profile.
Pulling no punches in an interview that also touched on Jay Z, slain teen Trayvon Martin, monster themes in his graffiti, and Karreuche Tran, Brown said “unconscious racism” was behind changed perceptions of the Canadian superstar.
“Justin’s not a bad kid, I’ve been around him. But if he hangs with too many Black people, ‘oh he’s hanging with the ni**as, so we’re going to let you go,’” Brown told Jet, back in September.
The 24-year-old continued, “That’s strictly what it is. It’s unconscious racism. C’mon, y’all know this s**t is bulls**t. So like at the end of the day, people f**k with people and Justin does great music. He’s still pop, but he hangs with the Black people.”
Many will no doubt take issue with Brown’s comments, and cite Bieber’s numerous entanglements with law enforcement, weed smoking, run-ins with paparazzi, peeing in a mop bucket, tensions with his Calabasas, Calif., neighbors, and the monkey saga — just some of the dramas the teen singer has either generated or attracted this year — as reasons for heightened antipathy toward the 19-year-old.
However, Brown is adamant Bieber’s seismic shift from adopted American sweetheart to Canadian “bad boy” is underpinned by a sense that white people no longer feel they can relate to him.
“I can identify with what he’s going through,” Brown says, alluding to his own spectacular fall from grace in 2009 after he assaulted his then girlfriend, Rihanna.
“People don’t understand certain people, so if they don’t understand you, they automatically hate you. They cancel you out,” Chris told Jet, adding, “I’m speaking out now because I really don’t care anymore.”
Brown, who has been friends with Bieber, has expressed uncompromising support for the “Beauty and A Beat” star throughout his difficult year.
Back in May, after Justin was booed at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards when he accepted the Chevrolet Milestone award, Brown tweeted:
“Congrats @justinbieber. Focus and f**k the bull***t! Love ya boy!”
In June, while promoting his single “Fine China,” Brown told Power 105.1 FM The Breakfast Club:
“I feel like the mainstream media, and I don’t care I ain’t in it but this my own [what] I’m going say about it. I just feel like they’re gonna target the little black boys around him [Bieber] and say, ‘Hey, so this is why he’s doing it’.”
Revealingly, in a Mail Online article published October 6 reporting on Justin’s Saturday concert in Shanghai, at one point in the text the outlet referred to the singer as a “wanna-be gangster.” This is by no means isolated. Trawl through most mainstream media reports and variations on racially-tinged derogatory terminology to describe Bieber can be found.
Throw in the numerous dubiously sourced reports on the singer churned out over the past months alongside factual coverage of Bieber’s missteps, and the result is a narrative that perpetuates and often drives a specific angle — among others — that he is being led astray by non-white friends.
That this is demonstrated in much of the reporting and opinions leveled at Bieber over his “urban” style of dress, mannerisms and African-American friends — as if this is some great transgression from an artist mentored at an impressionable age by Usher after relocating to Atlanta, the crucible of Black music culture, grew up listening to Tupac, Brown and others, and is musically and socially open to black and white culture — yet seemingly only the Black press notices the sub and overt text of some of the criticism he receives isn’t that surprising.
The surprise is that Bieber — a teen — continues to be called out by some elements of the press for integrity stumbles, while they steadfastly refuse to apply equivalent standards to themselves.
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