Before Justin Bieber released his new album Justice today, he got the band Justice upset with him over the album art. Now the record is out and it has upset some more people. Justice features audio clips of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which rubbed some folks the wrong way, as they didn’t think Bieber’s use of the samples was appropriate:
Justin Bieber really used an audio clip form Martin Luther King jr about injustice as the into for a love song about Hailey Baldwin….because that makes sense
— Kayla (@Mxxnwalkers) March 19, 2021
I really assumed the new Bieber album was going to be about social change and civil rights activism with the title and an “MLK interlude” but it’s about obsessive love and I’m so disappointed. It’s like Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was used and it feels so wrong. I am sad. 😭
— Ryan Cassata (@ROCassataMusic) March 19, 2021
That said, King’s family seems to be cool with Bieber. The pop star tweeted that he is “supporting organizations that embody what justice looks like in action” and listed off a handful of them, including The Martin Luther King Jr. Center For Nonviolent Social Change. Bernice King, MLK’s daughter and CEO of The King Center, replied to Bieber, “Each of us, including artists and entertainers, can do something. Thank you, @justinbieber, for your support, in honor of #Justice, of @TheKingCenter’s work and of our #BeLove campaign, which is a part of our global movement for justice. #MLK #EndRacism.”
Each of us, including artists and entertainers, can do something.
Thank you, @justinbieber, for your support, in honor of #Justice, of @TheKingCenter’s work and of our #BeLove campaign, which is a part of our global movement for justice. #MLK #EndRacism https://t.co/nTkR1XdcvW
— Be A King (@BerniceKing) March 18, 2021
Additionally, King’s estate must approve and license uses of King’s speeches or papers, so presumably, Bieber got approval. (Then again, Bieber didn’t exactly get Justice’s approval for his album art, so who knows.) The estate doesn’t just let everybody who wants to sample/quote King do so, either. For example, the movie Selma had to paraphrase King because they did not get the go-ahead to use actual King quotes in the film.
In a Vogue feature published today, Bieber explains King’s presence on the album, saying, “What I wanted to do with this was amplify Martin Luther King Jr.’s voice to this generation. Being Canadian, it wasn’t so much a part of my culture. […] This speech was actually during the time when [he had] a feeling that he was going to die for the cause, and what he was standing up against was ultimately racism and division. I think his message was that a lot of people can be afraid to stand up for what is right, but if you’re not standing up for justice, for what is right, what are you doing with your life? I’m sorry to get so deep, but these are the times we’re living in. That’s why I wanted to make this album because I think it’s very timely and very necessary.”
Check out some more reactions to Justice below.
now I know the Rev. Martin Luther King is not on this Justin Bieber album, my eyes and ears must be deceiving me💀
— Auntie Lex (@TatumAlexis) March 19, 2021
Justin Bieber started his album with a Martin Luther King Jr. sample and immediately started singing JCPenney shopping music
— r✰lph🌐 (@fcknggt) March 19, 2021
Why did Justin Bieber, a white man, use Martin Luther King Jr. on his album titled “Justice” which is about his wife who is a white woman?
Otherwise, the music is cute.
— Helianthus annuus 🧚🏾♀️ (@NyeshaNaynay) March 19, 2021