Justin Bieber’s mentor Usher avoids weighing in on the recent surfacing of a years-old video of his protégé telling a racist joke with the N-word as the punchline. Is this worrying for Bieber or not?
By now, even the animal kingdom will be aware that Justin Bieber told a racist joke when he was 15-years old, with a punchline that included repeated use of the N-word.
The five-year-old video was published by the UK’s The Sun newspaper on Sunday [GMT]. At first, only subscribed users to the website could see the whole video until TMZ later posted it. The paper also posted a Vine of the racial slur which quickly went viral.
Within hours, Bieber and his team released a detailed, earnest apology which read, in part:
“I’m very sorry. I take all my friendships with people of all cultures very seriously, and I apologize for offending or hurting anyone with my childish and inexcusable mistake.”
Bieber’s statement described his five-year-old gaffe as “reckless and immature,” adding that he hoped the publicizing of his “faults” would stop the perpetuation of ignorance and others “from making the same mistake in the future.”
The Sun, which has continued to stoke Internet outrage since Sunday, billed their scoop as “one of the most shocking showbiz videos you will ever see.”
The tabloid’s report also hiked up Bieber’s age in the video to 17 — he was in fact, 15 — amid speculation on whether Bieber’s African-American mentor Usher and the many people of color in the star’s life would “stand by him” and if other artists would “refuse to work with him.”
Cue TMZ’s video of Usher almost running to his huge cruiser when he’s doorstepped in the street by one of the gossip site’s photogs.
“Hey Usher. Usher I gotta ask,” the photog begins. “If those Bieber tapes came out 15 years ago – you think, I mean, you know when he was 15 – do you think he’d be as popular right now?”
The Confessions singer said nothing in response, but noticeably hurried to his ride while the shutterbug said,”Have a good day Usher.”
Usher’s decision not to make a comment about the current Bieber-race rager will no doubt be taken by mainstream media as some sort of sign that Justin’s mentor is enraged by his protégé’s use of the N-word.
Of course it’s equally possible that the 35-year-old – who was already on his way out to his vehicle – didn’t want to add to the current gorging on Bieber’s kiddish racial slur.
Usher signed Justin to a production deal at his RBMG Records label in 2008, incorporating manager Scooter Braun, before the pair brokered Bieber’s record deal with Island Def Jam that same year. Justin has also worked with a number of black artists including Nicki Minaj, Sean Kingston, Lil Wayne, Drake, will.i,.am, T-Pain, Kid Cudi and more.
While it remains to be seen if The Sun’s dire prediction for Bieber’s career is correct, the Canadian has been staunchly defended by a host of African-American friends.
These include Justin’s former bodyguard Kenny Hamilton, an ex-assistant, the Believe world tour photographer Mike Lerner, champion boxer buddy Floyd Mayweather, Christian rapper Brandon Burke and Soulja Boy.
We’re pretty sure that list also includes Usher who has known Bieber since he was 12, and can probably tell the difference between a racial slur uttered by a child — and a racist.