This past Friday, pop singer Justin Bieber released his sixth studio album, ‘Justice’. This album serves as the direct follow-up to his fifth studio album, ‘Changes’, released in 2020. Despite some of its blunders, ‘Justice’ is a lot better than ‘Changes’, and has the potential to be a classic Justin album.
The album opener, “2 Much”, begins with a random quote from Civil Rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. The quote — “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere” — seems to have been a major inspiration for the album’s title. This would’ve worked better if the song was actually about injustice, or even if it just dealt with injustice at all. But “2 Much” is a love song for Beiber’s wife, Hailey, who he married in 2018.
Beiber revisits another MLK speech later in the album in the form of an interlude. The interlude speaks of dying for an important cause or reason. The interlude is supposed to introduce the next song on the album, The Weeknd styled “Die For You”. But again, “Die For You” is a love song. “Die For You” arguably misrepresents King more than “2 Much” did, as Beiber deliberately misuses the quote to reiterate how much he loves his wife.
“2 Much” and “Die For You” seem to trivialize the message that King was trying to articulate, and I wonder why he had to appear at all. If anything, King’s inclusion in ‘Justice’ speaks more to performative activism than to actual black activism by cheapening his message.
However, though I don’t like the way MLK was incorporated into things, I find it interesting that this album is much more sentimental than Beiber’s previous work. His wife is a constant presence throughout the album, and is center stage throughout most of the songs. It also ties in a lot with Beiber’s introspection throughout the songs, as he believes he has finally matured into a grown man.
The song “Holy”, though not my favorite, articulated the religious side of his love for his wife. This was further helped with a feature by none other than Chance The Rapper, who previously released an album in 2019 celebrating his marriage. Another single from the album, “Hold On”, though also not my favorite, served as an interesting insight into Beiber’s life, as he tells the story of a man who had been through trials and tribulations, but who has now found himself.
Beiber also isn’t afraid to reflect on his past mistake. During “Deserve You”, Beiber reveals that he doesn’t want to revert to his old ways again, feeling like his past behavior has caused him to be unworthy of his wife. “As I Am” with Khalid also touches on this, asking his wife to still love him as he is while he’s going through things.
As we neared the end of the album, we got the majority of ‘Justice’s’ “pop hits”, and a decent contribution from Burna Boy on the Afrocentric “Loved by You”. The main highlight of the album came during this section with “Peaches”, featuring R&B singers Daniel Caesar and Giveon. Though it also makes me wonder why Beiber didn’t import more than one R&B/Soul song to ‘Justice’, as he’s currently in a huge uproar over the fact it wasn’t classified as such.
It is also a shame that the album didn’t end on “Peaches”. The actual ending songs, “Anyone” and “Lonely”, are good contributions overall, especially with the album’s subject. However, they are also not strong enough to be album enders, which leaves listeners a bit underwhelmed on the way out.
Though showing heavy growth within Beiber personally, it has not shown much improvement in his musicality. His vocals have remained stagnant since ‘Journals’, and though his uptempos are a lot more eye-catching, they could be better. Still, ‘Justice’ has a solid foundation, and could show a more introspective Beiber to come.