Just to get back to the fan-base expanding, at Complex I cover style a lot, and in France, one thing I noticed is that he has the MCM TI$A Perfecto jacket on. As he gets more stylish, do you think these 17 and 18-year-old dudes are going to start following him?
SB: I think he just needs to be him. I always tell him, “Realize the brand you are, and you don’t need to wear a brand.”
JB: He’s always telling me to pull my damn pants up.
SB: When you and I were his age, we wore our pants just as low. Then, one day we woke up and said, “We look like idiots,” and we pulled our pants up.
T.I. met him before he was a star, Ludacris, all of them. Everybody in Atlanta knew Justin as Scooter’s little dude. He was always with me. That was my little guy. So he grew up around hip-hop, and he already had a natural love for hip-hop.
Do you still have that swag coach?
SB: We never had a swag coach.
Really? I thought I read that in the Times.
SB: [Laughs.] Ryan Good likes the word “swag,” and Ryan was his road manager, and we couldn’t really afford a stylist. So Ryan was helping out with style and everything else, and he used to joke around like, “When I first met you, Justin, you were dressing...” Ryan is like, 26 and wears his pants down to here.
So I blame Ryan for why he wears his pants so low. And I’m like, “Ryan, you need to grow up and pull your pants up.” He’s the only dude I know at that age wearing his pants that low [Laughs]. So Ryan was helping out, and then Justin, in an interview one time, as a joke, was like, “Ryan, over there, that’s my swag coach.” Just kind of clowning, like that’s his boy. In the articles, everyone ran with the swag coach thing. We don’t mind. We think it’s funny. We tell Ryan he’s the swag coach of the world [Laughs].
JB: Yeah, it was just a joke. It’s not really true.
SB: He’s one of our boys.
Talk about how hip-hop savvy Justin is.
SB: Ask him to do 2Pac for you, right now.
He did it for me backstage. That’s what I’m saying. Everybody from 2Pac to Nicki Minaj, he’s up on. I’m sure he’s up on every young rapper too. Where does that come from?
SB: I think his dad was a big 2Pac fan. He got that from his dad.
JB: My mom liked rap music, too.
JB: Yeah. She just didn’t listen to 2Pac and stuff. She liked Ma$e.
SB: So he’s got young parents, and they’ve grown up in the hip-hop generation. Then, he comes down to Atlanta, Georgia, and I’m the white-boy of hip-hop. I’m the guy who started out with street dudes in Atlanta, and then broke a kid who wore flip-flops and never had a mixtape, and everybody thought I was crazy.
Then, while I’m breaking Asher, Justin’s at Asher’s house everyday, rapping on Cannon. And Cannon’s coming over every day, and Justin’s 13 or 14, hanging out. He was like, the little kid. He was the kid that would always hang out with us. Like, there’s video of me and Asher out to dinner with Ludacris, when Asher was first starting, and if you look in the corner, Justin’s there.
So when he started to blow up... T.I. met him before he was a star, Ludacris, all of them. Everybody in Atlanta knew Justin as Scooter’s little dude. He was always with me. That was my little guy. So he grew up around hip-hop, and he already had a natural love for hip-hop.
If someone asks me, 'Are you a marketing genius?' I’m like, 'No.' But if someone says I’m a marketing genius, they say it. If someone says he’s the king of pop... If anything, there’s only one King of Pop. If he could be the prince of pop, that would be dope.
And personally, I think it has to do with the fact that his first instrument is drums. Hip-hop is very drum-heavy, and I think he gravitated to the tracks because of the percussion.
He recently spoke at the Michael Jackson tribute... Do you think he could be this generation’s King of Pop?
SB: I don’t think you ever say that. Like, if someone asks me, “Are you a marketing genius?” I’m like, “No.” But if someone says I’m a marketing genius, they say it. If someone says he’s the king of pop... If anything, there’s only one King of Pop. If he could be the prince of pop, that would be dope. I don’t think it’s his place to say.
I think his career needs to speak for itself, and I think he needs to do it. I do think it’s awesome that he’s Canadian, because I just realized Canada is a province of the United Kingdom. So the Queen of England is the queen. So technically, if he has an amazing career, he can be knighted. He can be Knight Bieber or Sir Bieber.
Sir Justin Bieber [Laughs].
SB: How awesome would that be? Now, it took The Beatles like 30 years to get that, so we’ve got a long way to go, but the fact that he has that opportunity and we don’t—it’s pretty fucking cool.
I was doing Google images searches, and I saw you guys with your girlfriends. Are you excited about double-dating with him? I know you guys probably can’t go to clubs, but...
SB: Here’s what I’ll say to you. One—I won’t answer the question, because I respect not only him, but me as well. Our personal lives, when it comes to that, relationships, everything else, is off limits. You can’t have a relationship if you’re sharing it with the world.
So am I looking forward to an age where we can go out together? Yeah, but for a completely different reason than he is. My reason is, I’ve had to play this dad/uncle role for so long, that he has no idea how cool I am [Laughs]. So when we finally get to go out, he’s going to be really shocked. He just thinks that I’m a lame [Laughs].
JB: You are lame! Like hell! [Laughs].
SB: [Laughs] See? Because I’m always having to shoot him down and keep him out of trouble. But when he gets older, and he goes out, and he realizes that the people he thinks are cool ask me where I’m going, then it’s going to be a different situation.
Right, but can it flip also? That he’s cooler than...
SB: Oh, but I tell him I think he’s lame all the time, too. I’m like, “Yo, you’re young and you’re corny. Pull your pants up.” Here’s the thing. It’s really a family relationship. We love each other. We’ll tell each other when we’re cool, and we’ll tell each other when we think the other person’s lame. I think the best part about me and him is that I don’t consider myself... I think title-wise, I’m his manager. I don’t really consider myself his manager.
Many times—I’m not speaking about all managers—they want to tell them what they want to hear, keep the business going, keep the train moving. And his integrity and him growing up to be the right kind of man is so much more important to me. So I consider him family.
My goal is to help him become a good man, because his talent is endless. I feel like if he’s a good enough man to handle the responsibility of the gift that he’s given, then he will be successful. If he tries too hard to be cool, or if he grows up into a douchebag, then it’s all going to disappear.