In Defense of Justin Bieber by Peter Rosenberg
On Friday morning, Justin Bieber appeared on the Cipha Sounds and Rosenberg show on Hot 97. While there, the teen sensation kicked a few rhymes over DJ Premier’s classic “Dwyck” beat. This isn’t the first time that Bieber has rapped or discussed his love of hip-hop. He’s rapped on radio for Tim Westwood and on Power 106 in Los Angeles; he also talked about how hip-hop has influenced him in the July/August 2011 issue of XXL. —As told to Adam Fleischer
After putting the Biebs to the test on his show, Peter Rosenberg checked in with XXL and explained why it was a great thing for hip-hop.
I had never met him before. I had been aware of him for a long time because of my relationship with Asher Roth. I’ve always known that he loves to rap. Asher had told me stories that back in the day in Atlanta, when Asher was first getting started, Bieber was a little kid. He was always trying to get in there and rhyme. I was kind of hoping he would start to dabble in it because it would be cool.
He didn’t reference Premo specifically, but I did—about how Premo thought he didn’t write his rhymes. So I was like, listen, I’m gonna give you a Premo beat, and you’re gonna have the opportunity to show Premier what you can do, and that you can write your own rhymes. As far as I know, Bieber has written every verse he’s ever done.
I thought it was good. I think he can hold his own. He’s got a ways to go if he’s gonna be real serious, but it doesn’t seem like he wants to be serious. He’s a talented kid in general. I’ve always said about Justin, that he’s not the greatest at any one thing. He’s really good at a lot of things. He’s pretty good naturally as a rapper. I don’t think he’s gonna go on to be a full fledged rapper, but I do think he’s talented, and I do think it comes pretty naturally to him. I think everyone would agree that the flow that he used on “Dwyck” was pretty good. It was solid.
No matter where else he’s done it, it’s gonna be a bigger deal, and have more eyeballs, and more ears, and more scrutiny, more talk if he did it at Hot 97. So I was like, when he comes here, we need him to rap. And they were with it. I just thought it would be a big moment. And I knew some people would love it, some people hate it, but I thought it was cool to give him a fair shake at it.
The response was overwhelmingly positive, including from callers who are not in the Twitterverse and are not really like, didn’t expect it and are like, “What the F is Justin Bieber even doing there?” and they’re like, “Yo, the kid is pretty good.” The people who were mad about it were the ones that I knew would be, especially when we chose “Dwyck.” And I looked at it as, How cool to put him on a DJ Premier beat? Why not get to expose so many people to a beat that they would never get to hear otherwise? I thought that was a really cool opportunity. I think, for us, that’s what made it special. That it was on a DJ Premier instrumental. That’s just super cool.
It’ll probably be heard by millions of people. And it’s labeled online—I intentionally labelled it “Dwyck.” I wanted it to be out there and people to go, “What’s Dwyck?” To me, amidst all the people that would be like, “Why’d you do that?” Ultimately, that’s a really dope thing to do. I think that’s a win for hip-hop. Justin Bieber is not gonna be the problem with hip-hop. Justin Bieber rhyming on a real hip-hop beat only exposes people to real hip-hop. That’s just a good thing. Even if 1% of his fans look it up. Why not? I haven’t talked to Premo yet, but I think Premo will think it’s cool. I think everyone will think it’s cool.