Justin Bieber’s use of Martin Luther King Jr.’s voice on new album stirs controversy

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Nancy Dillon, New York Daily News
·2 min read
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Justin Bieber’s latest album “Justice” dropped Thursday night and begins with the voice of civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” King’s voice declares before Bieber continues with the love ballad “2 Much,” apparently an ode to wife Hailey.

Midway through the album, there’s an “MLK Interlude” featuring another clip from King urging people to be brave and “stand up for justice,” no matter the consequences.

The interlude then leads into an 80's inspired dance song titled “Die For You.”

The juxtapositions led to some critical reaction on social media, but King’s daughter Bernice King voiced support for Bieber Thursday in a post on her highly influential Twitter account.

“Each of us, including artists and entertainers, can do something. Thank you, @justinbieber, for your support, in honor of #Justice, of @TheKingCenter’s work and of our #BeLove campaign, which is a part of our global movement for justice. #MLK #EndRacism,” she said in the post that retweeted a message from Bieber.

Attempts to reach a spokesperson for Bernice King or The King Center in Atlanta were not immediately successful Friday.

Bieber’s team got “clearance” from King’s estate to use the audio clips, and Bernice King reportedly is happy with how they appeared on the album, TMZ.com said Friday without naming a source.

Among those critical of Bieber’s use of the recordings was TV writer and producer Kirk A. Moore.

“Justin Bieber has an ‘MLK Interlude’ on his album. Then, an 80's inspired pop song about dying for love comes on next,” Moore tweeted early Friday.

“I still can’t get over Justin Bieber naming his album ‘Justice’ and using that MLK audio clip before transitioning into a Fame Monster leftover. Also, no one at the label thought to tell him... this ain’t it. I don’t know why I’m so annoyed. But, I’m annoyed. It’s dumb pandering,” Moore tweeted again hours later.