If there’s one thing that Justin Bieber proved with the drop of his sixth studio album “Justice,” it’s that he’s “not goin’ anywhere.” Released on March 19, “Justice” showcases a new side to Bieber with themes of romance, spirituality and self-acceptance.
The album contains singles like “Holy” featuring Chance the Rapper, and most recently, “Peaches” featuring Daniel Caesar and Giveon, which gained a lot of attention across social media for its fresh summer vibes.
“Justice,” as alluded to in the singles, is heavy on features. Other artists on the album include Khalid, The Kid LAROI, benny blanco, Burna Boy, BEAM and Dominic Fike. However, even with all of these features, Bieber maintains a leading presence in each track.
Another unexpected feature on the album is seen in the interlude. A recording from a Martin Luther King Jr. speech can be heard in “MLK Interlude,” and the included excerpt is from King’s 1968 “But If Not” sermon. An audio of King reading his famous 1963 "Letter from Birmingham Jail" can be heard in the opening track, “2 Much.”
Many have criticized Bieber for using King’s speeches in this album as these are the only mentions of racism and social justice.
"His album is called ‘Justice’ and has an 'MLK interlude,' but speaks nowhere of social justice, and is focused on love and relationships," Twitter user @herestokesha said.
However, Bieber did receive permission to use excerpts of MLK’s voice from Bernice King, the daughter of MLK Jr.
"Each of us, including artists and entertainers, can do something," King said on Twitter while giving her thanks to Bieber for “honoring” her father.
Even though Bieber did receive this necessary permission, it’s still rather strange to title an album “Justice” and barely include topics of social justice in his own lyrics. Using MLK’s voice but not his own is leaning on performative activism.
Referring to his career, Bieber has come a long way since his debut, and this album truly presents his growth and where he resides in the pop music genre. He no longer holds the boyish charm that he was known for in his youth, but he still sings as though he’s a kid in love.
The lyrics, even though they mostly describe his love life with his wife, Hailey Bieber, also touch on his relationship with God and himself. In recent years, Bieber has presented himself as a religious man, which he touches on in single “Holy.”
Regarding his mental health, Bieber notes the struggles of growing up in the spotlight on “Lonely,” featuring benny blanco.
“And maybe that's the price you pay / For the money and fame at an early age / And everybody saw me sick / And it felt like no one gave a sh- / They criticized the things I did as an idiot kid,” Bieber sings on the song with Billie Eilish’s brother FINNEAS on writing and production credits.
While impressive vocals and diversity of sound on this album are minimal, these aren’t qualities that we expect to be heightened in Bieber’s music. Listeners that just want to jam to well produced pop music should enjoy the simplicity of “Justice,” even if they aren’t fans of Bieber’s previous works.