“Yo, I can rap anyone, like perfect. Watch me do Drizzy.” Backstage after the award ceremony, Justin Bieber, red carpet super-star, takes a break, and Justin Bieber, regular (albeit insanely talented) teenager, takes center stage. He doodles, drawing an off-color cartoon of his manager. He writes a two-line script for his publicist to recite: “I AM SOFA KING STOOP IT” (try pronouncing it phonetically). Kid stuff. He does a flawless Drake impersonation, with perfect accent and flow. He follows that with verses from Eminem, Biggie, and 2Pac. After Jay-Z’s “Big Pimpin’” verse, he finishes with an impersonation of Nicki Minaj, complete with exaggerated facial expressions. “I love how scary the faces she makes are,” he says with a laugh.
Some grumpy rap media outlets have griped about Bieber freestyling over classic beats like Biggie’s “Who Shot Ya,” but he shrugs the critics off. “I just rap for fun,” he says. “It’s nothing to take seriously. On my new album, I’m going to do a little bit of rapping.” He proceeds to spit a set of bars from “Boyfriend,” a song recorded for Believe. “Tell me what you like, dear/Tell me what you don’t/I could be your Buzz Lightyear/Fly across the globe/You don’t even need to fight, dear/You already know/I can make you shine bright/Like you’re laying in the snow/Burr.” Yeah, JayBee’s up on Gucci Mane, too.
Bieber is so carefree, so natural, it’s easy to forget he’s the same kid who sold more than 12 million albums worldwide and whose documentary has raked in over $98 million at the box office. But the mood takes a turn when someone on his team hands him a BlackBerry that shows a photo of Swizz Beatz wearing an MCM jacket identical to the one he’s wearing right now—the same one he proudly described as a one of one.
Bieber immediately calls his stylist to ask why Swizz had the jacket first. There’s a little bit of tension, but the conversation doesn’t last long and ends with Justin saying confidently, “Well, whatever. I just rocked it here in France and it looks swaggy.”
Later, at dinner, the life of the international pop star encroaches again, as Justin fires off a flurry of text messages. It seems they may be directed at Bieber’s gorgeous 19-year-old girlfriend, actress-singer Selena Gomez, who is thousands of miles away on her South American tour. Navigating that distance can be tough.
Justin’s outlook on the relationship is realistic. Although he’s not ready to answer the question of whether he’s in love, he’s not trying to conceal his feelings for Gomez anymore. “There’s no way to hide the relationship completely, because then it would be unfair to us,” he says. “It’s like, ‘You take this car, and I’ll take this car, and then we’ll meet up at the spot. Then, you go in this door, I’ll go in this door. We’ll end up crossing ways. You get back in this car. We’ll cross over, do a James Bond. You go through the kitchen. I’ll go through the back area. Then we’ll meet in the dressing room and see each other.’ At that point, it’s not even a relationship. You’re just hiding from everyone. That’s unfair and unhealthy, man.” With that, he polishes off the extra plate of broccoli he requested from the waiter and heads back to his hotel room to retire for the night.