Justin Bieber has confirmed that Kanye West and legendary super-producer and Def Jam Records founder, Rick Rubin, are co-producing his nearly completed, new album. It’s an indication of how revelatory the singer’s recent interview with USA Today is, that even this stunning news of the Bieber-West-Rubin collaboration isn’t the most startling takeaway.
After reading the profile, what immediately comes across is the new lucidity and clarity of the just turned 21-year-old superstar. For this writer, part of the frustration in being a more sympathetic observer to Bieber’s struggles, was watching his previous inability to describe — and make relatable — the complexities, difficulties, and paradoxes inherent in trying to grow up inside the tornado of fame.
Titled “My life is not easy,” Marco della Cava’s one-on-one with the singer rolled out on the eve of the Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber. The March 30-airing television special was recently described by the Toronto Star’s Menon, as the Canadian’s “ritual humiliation as a purging of his demons, an exorcism masquerading as insult comedy.”
Cava mentions that Bieber appeared to change over their interviews throughout the years. These stretched back to 2010, when the supernova of the then 16-year-old’s new life as a teen idol was exploding around him, after graduating from YouTube stardom to real world success with 2010 hit single “Baby” and discovery by manager Scooter Braun.
Amid earning millions, almost non-stop touring and/or recording from 2009-2014, Bieber’s seemingly idyllic relationship with his former girlfriend, Selena Gomez, exponential social media penetration, morphed into well-trodden tropes of falling off teen-star rails. Multiple arrests, egging, tattoos, a bucket, and the rest followed.
But Justin Bieber has been making changes. As the Inquisitr previously reported, from last fall (possibly even before) the singer accelerated personal work with Pastor Carl Lentz of the Hillsong NYC Church and Pastor Judah Smith of Washington D.C’s The City Church.
In January, Bieber made the first of many apologies to come, and it seems clear that he not only wants to move beyond his missteps, but also explain how the chaos of the recent years arose in the first place.
So that’s the context. Lets dive in.
Of his new album with Kanye West and Rick Rubin which will drop in 2015
“I’m finishing up the album now, working with Kanye and Rick. I’m not rushing it,” the Biebs reveals. “I’ll just wait until it’s totally done.”
The singer also explained that he had to go back to the drawing board with his new album, after ongoing inner work meant he was no longer in the same mental and emotional place that saw him attract incidents and legal woes for two years.
“It’s changed everything,” Justin says of his in-progress, second draft new album.
He explains, “My whole direction has changed. What you are thinking about all the time is what you write.”
“And now that I’m thinking about more positive things, it completely changes my music. I had to re-do my whole album. It was done but it didn’t match up to where I am now and where my head’s at.”
“I want to tell my story, but I also want to give people hope. I lost hope for a while, I was in a dark place, but it’s about getting out of that rut.”
The Biebs concludes, “It’s about knowing there’s sunshine on the other side.”
Some background on Rick Rubin
Bieber first hinted that he was working with Rubin back in January, when he posted a pic of himself with the 51-year-old, captioned, “With the man Rick.” In an Instagram repost of the pic, Braun teased, “Working on some history! @justinbieber via @shots –– Rick and JB.”
Rubin worked with Kanye West on his 2013 Yeezus album, and was also supposed to be producing another West album with Q-Tip. Credited as a hip hop, genre-mixing pioneer, he has worked with artists including the Beastie Boys, Run-DMC, LL Cool J, Mick Jagger, Damien Rice, Ed Sheeran, Neil Diamond, Adele, Lana Del Rey, Lady Gaga, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, and Eminem.
Even more crucially, given that this is Bieber’s big comeback year, Rubin produced career-rejuvenating comeback albums for the Dixie Chicks, Johnny Cash, and Black Sabbath. His previous work with West bodes well for producer synergy on Bieber’s new album, and it is well known that the singer is a West fan.
So is Bieber bringing out a rap album?
It doesn’t sound like it, despite the pedigree of West and Rubin. Bieber is a singer first and foremost, although it is likely rap will feature in some songs. Or standalone tracks.
After a storming performance of “Where Are Ü Now,” his collaboration with Jack Ü’s Diplo and Skrillex at the Ultra Music Festival 2015, it is to be hoped the EDM super-duo figures somewhere in either originals or on mixes of Bieber’s new music.
What is Bieber’s new album about?
It is “About growing, being in touch with yourself,” the singer says. “What can I say, it’s life experiences, and knowing that you can and get back up and keep going.”
“Hope and faith, that’s what’s gotten me through this too — my faith.” He continues, “What I believe in. You’re around some people sometimes and it might taint what you believe.”
Bieber adds, “I think that’s what happened with me, I lowered my beliefs.”
When will Bieber’s album be released?
After affirming that working on himself, his new album, and a tour, are his priorities, Bieber revealed, “I’m finishing up the album now, working with Kanye and Rick.”
But he insists, “I’m not rushing it, I’ll just wait until it’s totally done.”
Bieber is going through a serious personal transformation
During the new interview, Bieber talks a lot about growth, and “figuring some stuff out.”
He continues, “As you do when you grow up. You figure out what type of man you want to be, that’s where I’m at.” None of which is particularly odd for someone who has just turned 21, and grew up in the glare of the media lens and projections of fans.
Asked to explain his personal transformation, Bieber insists he can’t point to one incident. He explained, “I had to see the downs to appreciate the ups, and know what I want. I’m the type of person who has to learn the hard way.”
Elaborating, Bieber continues, “Sometimes I just have to see what it feels like. I got to the point where I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t who I wanted to be.”
He went on to say, “Now, I’m around some pretty awesome people who are supporting me and have my back. So that’s pretty cool.”
Revealing he has “left a lot of people behind who weren’t on the same journey I was on,” the singer states, “I’ve got a lot of new people in my life who are pouring into me, and not taking away from me.”
Bieber has lost some relationships along the way, but also made new ones
Bieber told USA Today that his relationship with his mother Pattie Mallette, 39, “is getting better now” after they “lost” their “relationship for awhile,” because he “wasn’t listening to anybody.”
He also revealed he and Braun had been “on some weird terms, too, but now we’re back 100 percent.”
Responding to one of the most interesting questions asked (“What would your friends say is the biggest change in you?” Bieber’s answer was left-field.
“Well, my eyes. You know how you can tell a person by their eyes — their intentions and where they’re at? Well, my eyes changed, they got softer and brighter. They’re open. I have more of a grasp of who I am at this point.”
Cynics and those invested in keeping a young man who made mistakes in a place that he is desperate to move on from, insist Bieber’s interviews, roast and Ellen appearances are just destinations on a continuing apology and redemption tour. However, it’s also true the singer has been consistently saying the same thing in his apologies and has not been in any new trouble for months.
Is it really so hard to imagine that after two years of full-on turbulence that Bieber — like any other human being — would do some reflecting and make changes? Perhaps those unwilling to give this young singer a chance, will do so when his new album drops?