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Smooth Bananas: ‘Justice’

“Justice” by Justin Bieber is a sampling of the raw and charismatic energy that brought Bieber into stardom originally and continues to serve him as an independent artist from his past selves. 

The album, produced by a team of producers including Louis Bell, Jon Bellion, Benny Blanco, and Skrillex, and distributed by label Def Jam, is the sixth studio album from the Canadian singer-songwriter. The album features 22 tracks of varying lengths totaling approximately 45 minutes. The album also has many guest artists on tracks including Khalid, Chance the Rapper, Dominic Fike, the Kid Laroi, Daniel Caesar, Giveon, Beam, Burna Boy, Benny Blanco, Lil Uzi Vert, Jaden, Quavo, DaBaby and Tori Kelly. 

The album opens with a slightly problematic sample of one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s speeches as well as featuring another sample later on in the album. The reason that this is problematic is that Bieber has become something of a symbol of the rampant liberalism (note: this is not necessarily “liberalism” politically but instead a term related to “neoliberalism,” an economic principle) that Dr. King despised. King once said the white moderate was the “great stumbling block” for Black Americans rather than the Ku Klux Klan. Bieber, especially in his younger life, has been a symbol for white corporatism packaging the features of the Black music experience and sending it off to a white moderate audience that would feel less offended by it. Bieber is able to salvage this potential stumble into an introspective take on this music industry hypocrisy. 

Bieber’s career has been tumultuous, and this album appears to capstone on that rough rocky part of his life. The Canadian singer is now 27 and this album feels like he is actually happy and satisfied for the first time in his adult music career. His newfound piece comes out of a spot with drug use and suicidal ideation saved by his marriage to model Hailey Baldwin and his renewal of his religious faith. His previous album “Changes” was all about how the public needs to stop viewing him as the same baby-faced kid that sang “Baby.” This album is all about moving forward from that era and making something new. Bieber is no longer interested in the panned-out clichés that have plagued popular music for years. He wants to develop as an artist without the strains of the public’s viewing eye. 

While Bieber doesn’t have strong powerhouse vocals, his voice is still compelling to listen to. Bieber sounds like a Saturday night crooner except you want to keep listening to him. His brief jaunts into falsetto pull in the listener in a way that other artists just can’t seem to replicate. Even when the songwriting is lackluster and the production value leaves you wanting, you can count on Bieber to sing his heart out in an emotionally raw way. 

“Justice” is a spirited walk through Bieber’s psyche as he figures out what it means to be a millennial music artist who’s had to start over more than once. “Justice” receives a B-minus rating. 

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