You know you’ve officially caught it. Bieber Fever. In the midst of his industry takeover, VIBE catches up with Justin Bieber, the young heartthrob / Usher mentee who’s bodied the industry and has every crazed teenie bopper armed with an autograph pen in tears.
VIBE: Are you used to the fame now or are there still moments when you think to yourself, Wow, this is my life?
Justin Bieber: It’s been pretty crazy traveling the world and living my dream. Not many people get to do what I’m doing. It’s amazing. My favorite thing is being able to travel around the world and perform for my fans. I think I’ve lost 80 percent of my hearing. I definitely have very loud fans.
When did you realize that you had officially become a phenomenon?
I got to meet the President [Barack Obama] a few times. I got a tour of the White House. He’s really cool and down to earth. I thought he was going to be really reserved, but he was cool. I met [the First Daughters, Sasha and Malia] when I went to the White House and they were nice.
What was cooler: Meeting the president or meeting Oprah?
That’s a tough one. Oprah was really cool. She came in the dressing room afterwards, met my parents and grandparents.
The Internet has been very good to you. Did you have any idea that posting your videos on YouTube would make you a star?
I posted the videos on YouTube for fun, just messing around. I never was a kid who wanted to be famous. I’m from Stratford, Ontario, a very small town, 30,000 people. I didn’t have money for a manager. We didn’t have a lot of money [period].
Without the Internet I would have no fans and I wouldn’t be in this business. I owe everything to the Internet and my fans.
Let’s talk numbers. You’ve amassed more than 150 million views on your YouTube channel, nearly 3 million fans on Facebook and more than 2 million Twitter followers. Those numbers basically mean that you’re one of the most watched people in the world. What do you make of those numbers?
I was checking my Twitter yesterday and I have almost 4 million followers [now], have YouTube 300 million. It’s crazy how everything is blowing up.
What’s the worst part about being famous?
I really don’t like photo shoots. I really have a short attention span so standing in one place for hours is not me. I have high energy and like to bounce around. Looking into a camera…
What’s the most ridiculous thing a groupie has done to get your attention?
My mom has me on a tight leash and [she’s] being real protective. The girls show up wearing nothing. I can’t lie, I’m 16, I don’t hate it. I don’t have a girlfriend.
We’ve got to talk about the hair. Why are people so obsessed with it? There are Websites dedicated to it?
I think the obsession with my hair is funny. People copy my hair. At meet and greets, people touch my hair. I don’t have any product in it.
When you’re the breadwinner in the family do you have an allowance? Do you have a curfew?
My mom is still my mom. She could care less if I’m an international superstar. I still have to clean my room on the tour bus. She takes my computer at 12 [a.m.] so I can sleep. I don’t have a bedtime [but] she doesn’t want me on the computer because she doesn’t want it to rot my brain. When she takes away my computer, I still play with my iPad. She doesn’t know. My mom is my biggest fan. She’s been a fan since I was a baby. My father in Canada, taking care of my brother and sister. He’s amazing; he’s really proud of me.
Puberty has hurt many a young star’s career. Do you worry about your voice changing? Do you think it will hurt your career?
Everyone’s voice changes. Puberty is a natural thing. I have the best vocal coach in the world and we’re working on my voice and doing what I need to do. It’s not like as soon as you hit puberty you stop singing. Usher is the best mentor in the world and he survived puberty. He tells me what to do, what not to do.
What’s in your iPod?
My iPod is really scattered. Boys II Men, Snoop, Prince, Eminem, Michael Jackson, AC/DC, Gucci Mane, all of Young Money… Lil Wayne is my favorite, Biggie, Pac—my dad introduced me to 2Pac when I was nine and I could rap all of Thug Nation by the time I was 10. Front to back, I could still do it.
[Starts rapping “Dear Mama”].
Your street cred is in tact?
A little bit…
What’s next for you? You were so cute on Saturday Night Live. Is acting something you’d like to tackle?
For sure. I have fun with acting and I’d like to do more. Comedy is really fun. I can be serious. Whatever roles are good for me I think I will take. I’d like to work with Martin Lawrence. He’s one of my favorite actors.
What about a collaboration with Drake?
He’s great. He’s a really good artist. He’s like my big brother. He definitely tells me to have fun with what I’m doing and stay humble. It’s really important. I’m touring right now and writing a little bit on the bus. Seeing new cities and different crowd reactions. I think that really [my success] is because I’m genuine. I’m myself. I don’t hold back. I’m just being me and doing what I love and having fun. People like that. People can see character and whether you’re doing it for the money or definitely love doing it for real.