Justin Bieber is under scrutiny for including words and speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the release of his new album Justice.
The album was released this past Friday on Def Jam Recordings and opens with MLK’s words of “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” There is also “MLK Interlude” featuring a 1-minute and 44-second clip of King’s “But If Not” sermon from 1967.
Outrage sparked in both publications and on social media, questioning the intention and belief of Bieber by using the messages.
“If you’re wondering why anyone thought it was a good idea to conflate civil-right martyrdom with the thought of succumbing to a hot woman, keep wondering,” wrote Chris Willman of Variety.
In release of the album, Bieber announced a campaign to support social justice organizations, including The King’s Center, which is a nonprofit led by the family of Dr. King. Bernice King, MLK’s daughter, thanked Bieber for his support online after the release of the album.
“What I wanted to do with this was amplify [Dr] Martin Luther King Jr’s voice to this generation,” Bieber explained to Vogue. “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.”
The album breaks the record as the album to hit #1 in most countries in Apple Music history and has 1 billion total streams on Spotify.