Justin Bieber is finishing up what he promises to be a more mature-sounding album with help from Kanye West and producer Rick Rubin, who both previously collaborated on Yeezus. "I don't want to say it's different because that's what everyone says," the pop star told USA Today. "But it is different, it's a grown-up version of Justin and I think people will be shocked."
The singer, who was recently the subject of a Comedy Central roast, explained that all of the misfortune that followed him over past year and a half helped him to grow up and focus his music on positive growth, so much so that he scrapped an entire record. "[The album] was done but it didn't match up to where I am now and where my head's at," he said. "I want to tell my story, but I also want to give people hope. I lost hope for a while, I was in a dark place, but it's about getting out of that rut. It's about knowing there's sunshine on the other side."
Lyrically, the LP will focus on "growing [and] being in touch with yourself." He chalked it up to life experiences and "faith." "You're around some people sometimes and it might taint what you believe," he said. "I think that's what happened with me, I lowered my beliefs."
Bieber reassessed what kind of man he wants to be after he realized he was not happy. He said he ditched some friends who were bad influences and has surrounded himself with "pretty awesome people" who are supporting him.
On that note, Bieber said he took the roast in stride. "I'm human, so some of the things they said stung a little, but I took it on the chin, owned up to some of the funny, dumb things that have happened," he said. His favorite bit was Will Ferrell coming out as his Ron Burgundy character and telling the audience that the pop star had been "doing everything right."
Bieber, whose underage drinking was the focus of many headlines last year, also cleared up any rumors about what he was drinking at the roast. "That was water," he told USA Today with a laugh. "It was my 21st birthday so I could have made it something else. But I had a big night that night, I had to make sure I was hydrated. I went to Vegas that night, right after."
Over the past six months, Bieber hasn't quelled his troubles. He was charged with assault and dangerous driving in Canada last September. An audience booed him that same month a "Fashion Rocks" event in Brooklyn. Authorities in Argentina summoned him to their country in November to face up to assault charges from 2013. And his former neighbor, who had accused Bieber of egging his house in January 2014, filed a lawsuit earlier this month for causing his wife stress and because, he claimed, Bieber's bodyguard hurled an anti-Semitic epithet toward him.
To improve his image, Bieber apologized for his actions this past January. "I didn't want to come off arrogant or conceited, or basically how I've been acting the past year, year and a half," Bieber said on Ellen. "I'm not who I was pretending to be."