Justin Bieber’s mentor Usher has opened up in a revealing, new interview about his love for the younger singer, but also says he doesn’t always agree with the decisions his 20-year-old protégé makes.
Speaking to music trade Billboard, the father of two gets candid and says of the Biebs, “I can say I’m not happy with all the choices my friend has made.”
Usher, famously, met the then 13-year-old Justin in a studio parking lot in 2007. Not too long after, the Canadian’s longtime manager Scooter Braun arranged for the child-star-to-be to perform for the Confessions superstar.
Since those early days, Braun and Usher have guided the teen to chart dominance, vast wealth, millions of album and single sales, and industry awards. However, since 2013, the “Baby” star has faced multiple legal issues and paparazzi clashes, and currently occupies a standoff with a media he previously accused of “bullying.”
Alluding to the controversies — some actual, some tabloid driven — that have seen Justin reside in headlines for over a year, Usher tells the magazine,
“Our relationship is more man-to-man now.” He adds, “He’s making his own decisions and it’s important to show support.”
“I can say I’m not happy with all the choices my friend has made, but I’m supportive of him.”
(Photo: Usher has mentored Justin Bieber from the beginning of his career.)
“I try my hardest to give as much positive reinforcement as I can. I’ll punch him [Justin] in the f*cking chest when I need to, and give him a hug and kiss when I need to,” Usher says of his tough love.
Equally, the 36-year-old stressed, “It’s more than just mentoring. I love the kid.”
Although he is no longer a mentor on The Voice, which he and contestant Josh Kaufman won last season, Usher reveals an urge to help the younger generation comes naturally to him.
“My mom always says, ‘You talk to everybody like they’re your kids.’ I’m like, ‘I’m sorry, I was born to be a dad,'” he tells Billboard.
Earlier this year, when years-old videos of Bieber using the N-word surfaced after one was exploitatively sold to a U.K tabloid, Usher stepped up to defend the under-fire young star.
(Photo: The Grammy award winning superstar cites Michael Jackson as a musical hero, as does Bieber.)
In June, Usher stated, “At my core, I am a person that supports growth and understands without judgment, that growth often comes as a result of pain and continues effort.”
“As I have watched Justin Bieber navigate difficult waters as a young man, I can tell you that he hasn’t always chosen the path of his greatest potential, but he is unequivocally not a racist. What he was 5 years ago was a naïve child who did not understand the negative power and degradation that comes from playing with racial slurs,” his statement went on.
At the time, Usher ended, “What he is now, is a young man faced with an opportunity to become his best self — an example to the millions of kids that follow him to not make the same mistakes.”
Unfortunately, a mainstream media narrative that is evidently invested in maintaining the “Bieber the bad boy” meme — with some outlets publishing claims that are clearly false, coercively damning, or dubiously sourced — makes it unlikely Bieber will be given a fair chance to demonstrate his “best self.”
Justin appeared to respond to Usher’s interview when he tweeted his mentor just hours after it was published.
“Love bro,” he wrote Friday.