Fans can say goodbye to the bubblegum Bieber of yesteryear. Nineteen-year-old Justin Bieber has traded in his squeaky-clean image for a more mature edge. Still, with the perks of adulthood have also come a slew of scandals, leaving fans wondering if the singer is headed down a destructive path like other child stars before him. In his first interview in nine months, Bieber opened up about the challenges of growing up in the music business.
During his sitdown with the Hollywood Reporter, the "Boyfriend" crooner dismissed media critics with a simple message, saying, "I don't give a f**k."
"I know who I am and what I'm doing in my life and what I've accomplished and continue to accomplish as a performer, as a writer, as an artist, as a person, as a human being. I'm happy with the man I'm becoming."
Just last week Bieber made headlines for kicking an Argentine flag during the first of two scheduled performances in Buenos Aires. The singer has since issued an apology. Yet, in spite of his public missteps, Bieber says that his celebrity makes him an easy target for negative press.
"When people see a negative thing about me on a magazine, they're gonna buy it," he said. "Every time some site writes something bad, all my followers go on there, and it brings them more traffic. Now they have all the Beliebers on their site, which gives them money from advertisers. They're just worried about money. They don't care about ruining someone's name."
Amid intense media scrutiny, the singer admitted to keeping his circle tight. His team of supporters include long-time manager Scooter Braun, Pastor Judah Smith, who frequently texts the pop-star biblical Scriptures, and a host of celebrity friends, including Oprah Winfrey, Adam Levine and rapper Drake.
"Drake is like a big brother to Justin," Braun told THP. "And Justin really looks up to Drake. They have an extremely special relationship."
Still, Bieber said that just through living he has learned "you shouldn't just trust anybody."
"I trust my mom and dad. I trust Scooter with my career. He's always made sure I'm taken care of," he said. "That's it."
In his time away from the media, the hit-maker revealed he has been focusing on new projects, including the 10-week Music Monday series in which the artist is set to release a new song every Monday leading up to the Christmas release of his second feature documentary, "Believe." Bieber's fifth installment of the series, released Nov. 18, is a raunchy ballad called "PYD" that includes vocals from R&B icon R Kelly.
"I was going for a modern Boyz II Men sound," he said of the new track. "I'm really influenced by R&B, but I love everybody - from Michael Jackson to the Beatles to, like Led Zeppelin and Korn."
To non-Beliebers who question the young artist's musical chops, Beiber has this message:
"Michael Jackson didn't do 'Off the Wall' until he was about 23," he said of the King of Pop's legendary album. "'Bad,' not until he was, like 25 [Jackson was 29]. I have all the time in the world. Justin's 'Thriller' is yet to come."