Justin Bieber criticized for sampling MLK Jr. on new album, but activist's daughter thanks him
Justin Bieber has sparked criticism — and a little bit of head scratching — for sampling archival audio of Martin Luther King Jr. on his new album Justice.
The album, which dropped on Friday, begins with a clip of King saying "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere," and includes a nearly two-minute track called "MLK Interlude," featuring another clip of the renowned activist.
The controversy, however, had less to do with the clips themselves and more to do with the music surrounding them. The opening track, "2 Much," is a synth-y ballad about Bieber's wife Hailey, and as EW's Leah Greenblatt wrote in her review of the album, "Good luck trying to connect the dots between a two-minute interlude of Martin Luther King Jr. speaking truth to power in a 1968 sermon and the Giorgio Moroder jiggle of 'Die for You' that immediately follows, without blowing some kind of frontal-lobe fuse."
"So many people have tried to get access to MLK's speeches. Many aren't lucky," TV writer-producer Kirk A. Moore (For Life) wrote on Twitter. (Notably, Ava DuVernay was unable to obtain the rights to King's speeches for her 2014 biopic Selma.) "Maybe music is different, but I don't like it. And, for him to use the speech in THIS way... just NO. Having spent much of the past year researching Dr. King, this just feels trashy and inappropriate."
Moore was not the only one to express such sentiments:
A representative for Bieber had no comment.
Despite the criticism, MLK's daughter Bernice King appeared supportive, thanking Bieber for his support of the King Center, the social justice organization she heads. On Thursday, the singer tweeted that he would be "supporting organizations that embody what justice looks like in action" in connection with the album.
"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," King wrote.