At the two-minute-thirty mark on Travi$ Scott’s atmospheric album cut “Maria I’m Drunk,” the magic begins. An uncharacteristically crass Justin Bieber alternates between singing and rapping with a dark, brooding quality to his voice that the world had yet to hear from him up until that moment. As Young Thug wails behind him, Bieber proves that he has a stronger artistic point of view than his previous work allowed him to showcase. A victim to the strict rules of traditional pop, the Canadian singer had never been afforded the opportunity to take sonic, lyrical, and conceptual risks until now.
Having spent the majority of his formative years in the public eye, Justin Bieber has been vulnerable his entire life. This characteristic, however, has consistently been absent from his musical output. Bogged down by the pressure to be as commercially successfully as possible, he used to be frustratingly insincere in his lyricism. His artistic point of view had been tragically buried miles below his highly-manufactured surface.
With Purpose, Bieber finally takes control of his voice, image, and persona. With the exception of a couple clear A&R-planted missteps, notably “Children” and “Life is Worth Living,” the cloyingly saccharine lyricism that defined his earlier releases has been replaced by vulnerability and cleverness. Bieber alternates seamlessly between R&B and pop, sounding equally confident in both genres. The album is a snapshot a full-fledged superstar attempting to find the proper balance between approachability and edginess. Bieber opts to take a gradual departure from his previous work rather than a stark one, as to ensure that he does not alienate his core fanbase. Purpose is peppered with “Maria I’m Drunk”-esque moments of innovation and experimentation, but never fully strays from Bieber's pop core.
Standout Tracks: "No Pressure (feat. Big Sean)," "Company" and "Trust"