Justin Bieber Addresses Backlash Over Sampling MLK On New Album

By Regina Star

April 1, 2021

Justin Bieber wants to clear the air about his controversial use of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s “But If Not” sermon on his latest album, Justice.

If you happened to be one of the millions of Beliebers who spun the Canadian crooner’s new LP, chances are you were just as surprised as most were to hear “MLK Interlude,” which samples the MLK’s November 1967 speech.

In response to the backlash he’s received over the sampling — with many fans accusing him of being a “white savior” with no honest intention to fight against social injustices — Bieber explained himself during a recent Clubhouse session.

"Being Canadian... they didn't teach us about Black history. It was just not a part of our education system,” said the 27-year-old, according to Billboard. “I think for me, coming from Canada and being uneducated and making insensitive jokes when I was a kid and being insensitive and being honestly just a part of the problem because I just didn't know better. For me to have this platform to just share this raw moment of Martin Luther King in a time where he knew he was going to die for what he was standing up for."

Bieber also drew criticism for his ill-placed “Die For You” track (a love letter to his wife Hailey Baldwin), which appears just before another track that samples MLK speaking the words, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Admitting he knows he has “a long way to go,” Bieber maintained that he wants to “keep growing and learning” about social injustices and that he merely wanted to "amplify Martin Luther King's voice." (For what it's worth, MLK's daughter, Bernice King, thanked him for using her father's words.)

He continued, "I'm not trying to make a connection between me and Martin Luther King. … But I have this man who was ready to die and what he believed to be true. If I'm not willing to face some sort of ridicule or judgment of people wondering my motives or whatever that is, for me, it was a no-brainer."

Photo: Getty Images

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