Tupac Back: Justin Bieber Feature From July/August 2011 Issue

In the heart of most rappers is a pop star dying to get out. Maybe that’s why so many hip-hop artists have taken such a liking to the pop phenom Justin Bieber. Co-discovered by Usher and signed to Island/Def Jam by L.A. Reid, the 17-year-old Canadian star received a Best New Artist nomination from the BET Awards last year and won four American Music Awards, including Artist of the Year. A bit stranger seeming is the endorsement he’s gotten from some of rap’s biggest MCs. During the past year, he has collaborated with Ludacris, Kanye West and Raekwon. He struck up a friendship with teenage Young Money rep Lil Twist and was the titular subject of a Lil B song. And sometimes, when the mood is right, he even busts rhymes himself, under his own MC name, Shawty Mane.

But maybe it makes more sense than you’d think. Bieber is actually a lifelong hip-hop head (still not that long!) who was introduced to rap as a toddler. XXL caught up with him recently to talk beats, rhymes and life.—Vanessa Satten

XXL: How long have you been listening to hip-hop?

Justin Bieber: I’ve been listening to hip-hop, basically, since I was, like, like, three. My mom listened to a lot of Ma$e, and my dad introduced me to Tupac when I was, like, like, four.

Oh, Tupac? So you were a Tupac fan early on.

Yeah, I was a Tupac fan.

Did you ever believe any of the conspiracy theories that he might be alive? Or think he might come back?

No, I don’t think so. I think he’s dead.

What about when you got older? Do you still listen to him as much?

Yeah. I mean, I’m still a huge ’Pac fan. But when I was, like, eight or nine, I could rap all of “Thugz Mansion.” Like, the whole song. My dad taught me.

So was it a big deal for you at all when you started to meet rappers?

Yeah. I was a big Ludacris fan, and then I was able to meet him in Atlanta at his restaurant. And I was freaking out. It was a crazy moment for me. Then I got to do a song with him, which was incredible and just a great experience. Probably my favorite rapper now, right now, at this moment, is probably Lil Wayne.

How do you pick your favorite? What do you base it on?

Just the stuff they do. Like, he’s on a lot of songs and some of them get repetitive, but usually he’s on.

You play around and rap, but do you ever see yourself trying seriously?

[Laughs] Not really. I just do it for fun, but nothing serious. I don’t think people would take me seriously if I came out with, like, a rap album.

In the beginning, did you ever get intimidated by rappers? ’Cause it’s a whole different genre of music from yours.

Yeah.

It’s fascinating how you have been so accepted by all the rappers. Your being so young and from a genre of music that’s so different, it seems pretty cool.

It’s great. Drake, he’s kinda like my big brother, and, like, a bunch of people I’m just really close to. I mean, most of Young Money—I know all of them, and they’re really cool and stuff. I try to associate myself with them. But not too much, because, like, you know, I don’t wanna get hurt or anything. [Laughs]

FOR MORE OF JUSTIN BIEBER, GO TO PAGE 2

  • yo

    hes awesome so gorgeous so talented! i saw him in concert and he covered teenage dream. his voice was so flawless. i hope he remains on top he really deserves it.

    • fag

      And when were your balls surgically removed?

  • fag

    Im sorry but when did XXL stop being a hip-hop magazine and turn into a world class asslicking website. especially with reviews that are very rarely under L and interviews with fags like bieber.

    • jimmmyjam

      man u just jelous. this dudes gettin chicks andis rich as fuck, he gets respect from rappers (which is hwy they talkin bout himm..retard) its fuckin sad tht people hate ths kid somuch when they dnt have a clue who he is. oh no hes not tough enough for ya.

      • fag

        Nonetheless he is still not a hip-hop artist so why are they interviewing him

        • ddouble

          why is your name fag? Faggot.

          • fag

            The name is not directed as a description of myself but rather as one of the subject of the article and the person first replied to. Faggot.

    • da truth

      because bieber will sell issues. you have to look at this as a business opportunity.

      • dogtoot2

        whoa i agree with “fag” this kids not hip hop, if this was a Disney magazine then okay.

        i personally hate his music but have bad respect because hes putting it in that hot Selena Gomez girl (i hope shes 18)

        and also can we also not give drake all this respect? HES THE BLACK KID FROM DEGRASSI

  • Giuseppe Sallo

    One: The kid has talent.
    Two: He has tons of charisma and personality.
    Three: He became famous over the internet, thats amazing.

    But…. I still believe he is overrated and overexposed. Artists like these get pegged as the “next best thing” because the media outlets for crazy for little white boys. Just look at him… he is the next bow wow.

    Btw, His mom let him listen to TUPAC, at age three? I find that hard to believe. This kid is hardcore latcher, always saying good things about artists… thats why he’s at the top. The ultimate as kisser.

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  • Rimbo

    This is ridiculous. He reminds me of Macauley Culkin, but with an eighth of the talent.

    • The blind

      dude is talented, he plays the drums, guitar, , can dance his ass off, and can sing. playing instrument is what 99 percent of rappers cannot do. so dont ever say he not talented.

      • urblind

        yeah but rappers make rap music, this kid doesn’t so fuck whatever talent he has he’s only using it to create songs for teenage girls.

      • dogtoot2

        im sorry dumb ass, you listen to rap expecting a guitar? your the type of person turning hip hop into pop

  • forr34l

    XXL for real?! I mean just imagine if back in 99 XXL posting n’sync or backstreet boys on the cover cuz “they like” hip hop too, so why wasn’t it ok then and now it’s all over the place with pop bullshit?! oh thats right cuz these fuck ass rappers turning into pop stars and got these pop stars thinking they can rap…smh

  • http://xxlmag.com P. Maese

    Here’s my 2 cents: Does Tupac deserve to have his name invoked in anything related to this kid? If you want to put a pop act in your magazine, is it necessary to attach a deceased legend to the material???

  • theend

    Look I respect this kids grind and hustle but his over saturation of the whole music industry is ridiculous, we got hip hop sites reporting on this kid as if he’s a rapper, other dude was right back in 99 you would have been out of business if you put boy groups and pop stars along side rappers in your magazine, your only lucky that hip-hop has become so corporatized that ppl are giving this a pass these days, such a waste!

  • http://@ceerad_93to4eva CeeRad

    XXL at its worse

  • http://----=- Anthony-in’85

    LMAO , its just a kid guyz com’on ! music is bussiness and this kidi s gud for bussiness , so what if xxl is running the story the bizz has changed since the 90′s its all about the money and ratings , cant wait for XXL to run the Britney Spears comeback story LOL!

  • R.MENDEZ

    YOU MOTHERFUCKERS, I TOLD YOU LAST ISSUE THAT IF I SAW MORE OF THE SAME SHIT IN NEXT MONTHS ISSUE I WAS DONE AND WHAT DO I GET???HOW DO YOU REPAY A LOYAL FAN WHO CONSTANTLY COMMENTS ON YOUR WEBSITE, BUYS YOUR MAGAZINES AT 5 BUCKS A POP? YOU FUCK ME, YOU FUCK ME REAL LONG AND GOOD TOO!!JUSTIN BEIBER!!!REALLY?!! WHERE IN YOUR STUPID SHIT FILLED HEADS DO YOU THINK THAT BECAUSE JUSTIN BEIBER IS POPULAR IN THE 10-17 DEMOGRAPHIC THAT HE HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH HIP-HOP? 35 FULL PAGE ADS IN THIS MONTHS ISSUE, IM NOT EVEN GONNA OUNT THE HALF PAGE ADS, OR THE SECTION WHERE YOU GET A RAPPER WITH A LITTLE BUZZ AND DRESS HIM UP TO TAKE UP 5 MORE PAGES. YOU BROKE MY HEART XXL. I RODE OFF WITH YOU FROM THE SOURCE BECAUSE BENZINO WAS SHITTIN ALL OVER IT BUT NOW IT LOOKS LIKE YOU ARE SHITTIN ALL OVER THIS MAGAZINE NOW WHILE THE SOURCE GOT RID OF THE PROBLEM. FIRE VANNESSA SUTTEN IMMEDIATELLY, ANYONE WHO THINKS HAT THERE MAGAZINE SHOULD BE FILLED WITH RIM ADS AND SHITTY OVERPRICED JEWELRY NEEDS TO BE BEATEN TO DEAT. AND HOW DARE YOU SUULY THE NAME OF ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL SOULS IN HIP HOP BY NAMING YOUR ARTICLE TUPAC BACK. I COULDVE TAKEN A DUMP DIRECTLY ON THE PRINTING PRESS AND MADE A BETTER MAGAZINE MISS SUTTEN. GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF YOUR ASS. YOU LOST ANOTHER READER. WHICH MEANS YOU ARE NOT GOOD AT YOUR JOB, AND YOUR LETTERS FROM THE EDITOR SUCK TOO.

  • mikey

    Well XXL, enjoy whatever money you make off me viewing your site from time to time cause I’m never buying your fuckin trash mag again.

    I understand you though, it’s not like you give a fuck about your readers or hip hop or fans; your interest is just money. There’s nothing wrong with that. So do an interview with Hannah fuckin Montana next time, she probably listened to a Lil Wayne song at some point.

  • jdubb

    wow and remember when xxl was supposed to give true hip hop and have credibility over the source?

    i dont care if jb is the most masculine, talented artist alive he is pop not rap/hip-hop why is he on this mag?

    looks like xxl is following in the footsteps of its big brother the source as being another sell-out mag…

  • evan

    tupac is the best rapper alive-justin bieber lmfao

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  • http://www.myspace.com/slotchmusic ms_spittuh

    why not title an article “The King of NY: Biggie”…and put Boy George in the article or some shit like that lol. He’s a talented kid, yes I can’t deny that but fuck i come here to see some hip hop!!!

  • Ja_From_Oz

    You dudes are funny man, pissin maself loving. But you guys have points tho, the kid got talent and he earn the publicity no doubt. On the other hand this is a hip hop site, hip hop fans come and visit this page to see hip hop updates not pop teenage sensation. so i understand ur point as well. Its not the Hip Hop fans fault, its not the kid’s fault. Its XXL mag fault for provocking hip fans. this interview would look better on MTV minus the Pac bit perhaps.

  • R.I.P. Don Killuminati

    It is completely disrespectful to put his name in with 2pac’s. This is destroying his legacy. I don’t care if Bieber likes Pac, keep it to yourself. Don’t make a str8 G look like a pussy by putting his name in an article with Bieber, Chris Brown, and lil wayne. Fuck XXL for this.