In the age of squad goals, Justin Bieber is golden. After a couple of years of highs (“What Do U Mean?” and “Where R U Now” continue to top the charts) and the lowest of lows (an egging vandalism case, high-profile breakup with Selena Gomez), the pop superstar has surrounded himself with confidants to set him on the straight and narrow.
Chief among them is longtime manager, Scooter Braun, who has known the singer since he was a 12-year-old singing Ne-Yo‘s “So Sick” on YouTube. While critics have credited Braun for Bieber’s comeback, he’s quick to point out that he took a more hands-off approach.
“The only person who deserves credit for this is Justin,” said Braun in Bieber’s new Billboard cover story.
“I’m surprised at how he’s got his shit together,” said Skrillex. “He has been around people who weren’t the best. It’s hard for him to trust, but at the same time he treats everyone around him with respect.”
Big Sean — who’s collaborated with Bieber on the 2012 hit, “As Long As You Love Me” and will also appear on his fourth studio album Purpose (out Nov. 13) — also commends Bieber’s artistic efforts. “He’s building credibility as a true artist right before our eyes,” says the rapper. “Sometimes people really want you to fail, but when you put good music out, it’s undeniable. You never want to let those motherf—ers win.”
The holiest co-sign, though, comes from Bieber’s pastor, Judah Smith. “We text almost daily, and it’s not just me sending him Bible verses anymore,” said Smith, who has known the singer since he was 16. “He’ll send them to me, along with encouraging thoughts or an encouraging emoticon. I’m committed to helping him and protecting him, but it’s fair to say we’re there for each other.”
Read Bieber’s full Billboard cover story here.