If you’ve had Bieber Fever ever since Justin Bieber arrived on the music scene in 2009, then you’ve got musical artist Usher to thank for that. In fact, Usher helped Bieber get his career started after he heard the Canada native — who was 12 years old at the time — on YouTube. Luckily, Usher picked wisely, since the “Yummy” singer has won a slew of awards — one Grammy Award, 15 American Music Awards, five iHeartRadio Music Awards, and two MTV Music Video Awards, to name a few — in the past 10 years.
“He just basically told me to keep my head on straight. Make sure to stay grounded. I mean, he’s been through the whole process. He’s done it all before so he’s kind of coaching me. He’s kind of my mentor,” Bieber told Neon Limelight in 2009 about working with Usher. Despite Usher’s celebrity status, the pop star admitted their bond was pretty normal. “Well, I mean, to be honest, a lot of people have been asking like, ‘It must be amazing to hang out with Usher,’ but he’s just a regular cat like you and me, so it’s just like hanging out with anybody else,” Bieber said. “But it’s cool. It’s cool to have one of my inspirations on set.”
Now that Bieber is an international superstar, where does he stand with Usher today? We take a look at their relationship below.
Justin Bieber owes his career to Usher
If Usher hadn’t come along, who knows if Justin Bieber would be as famous as he is today. After Scooter Braun — who was working at So So Def at the time — saw Bieber’s videos from a local singing competition on YouTube, he brought in Bieber to record some demos in Atlanta, Ga. “It had a hundred views, then a thousand views, then 10 thousand views, so I just kept posting more videos and more videos,” Bieber told Good Morning America in 2009. “Eventually, I got found by my manager who flew me to Atlanta to meet Usher.”
After Usher won a bidding war, he signed Bieber to Island Def Jam Recordings — and the rest is history. “It was truly his talent, his ability to, on the spot, produce that magic,” Usher revealed to GMA. “There was something really eager and something so poised to be something. I didn’t know what he would be but I knew I wanted to be involved.”
Usher — who competed on Star Search when he was 13, per Rolling Stone — had a gut instinct about Bieber’s talent, and boy, was he right. “I knew that this was a kid that was going to go very far,” he added. “I took him to [record executive] L.A. Reid and I said, ‘Man, you are not going to believe the talent that I have come across. This kid is really like one in a lifetime glimpse at a prodigy or something incredible.'”
Usher has been ‘supportive’ of Justin Bieber through the good and bad times
Justin Bieber has certainly had his fair share of ups and downs in the entertainment industry. Remember when he was arrested for drinking and driving in Miami, Fla. in 2014? Or when a video leaked of him telling a racist joke to his friends that same year? Despite the mistakes, Usher made it clear that he stands by Bieber and isn’t afraid to put him in place. “Our relationship is more man-to-man now,” he told Billboard magazine in 2014. “He’s making his own decisions and it’s important to show support. I can say I’m not happy with all the choices my friend has made, but I’m supportive of him.”
At the end of the day, Usher “understands that nobody’s perfect” — especially when it comes to growing up in the spotlight. “You’re gonna have moments,” Usher told Howard Stern in 2016. “And if he does, I can only show him the reality of what has happened… of course we’ve had stern talks.”
Usher noted he tries “to give as much positive reinforcement as [he] can” to Bieber. “I’ll punch him in the f**king chest when I need to, and give him a hug and kiss when I need to,” the “U Got It Bad” singer told the musical magazine. “It’s more than just mentoring. I love the kid.”
Usher is proud of Justin Bieber for how far he’s come
Justin Bieber and Usher have come a long way since they met in 2009. After years of being Bieber’s mentor, Usher and the Canada native are still close to this day. In fact, Usher and Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, both attended Bieber’s nuptials to Hailey Baldwin in South Carolina in 2019, per the Daily Mail.
In February 2020 — the same month Bieber’s latest album, Changes, came out — Usher got candid about where things stand with him and Bieber today, adding he is “very” proud of how far he’s come. “I’ve seen him go through some very, very complicated times. Always happy when he decides to come back to what it is that he loves and not falter in that,” Usher told Extra at the time.
“It’s very hard. You don’t understand the pressure,” he added of Bieber’s stardom. “It just seems like, ‘Oh, it’s so great to have these lights and these cameras and all of these people staring at you.’ It’s such a beautiful thing, but the pressures that come with that and the reality of how hard it is to live under that type of scrutiny is a lot. The fact that he has been able to manage to make it back, to put out another album, and share yet another piece of his life.”
Clearly, Usher isn’t sorry that Bieber came out on top, and neither are we!
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