But, his producers on the album leave just as much a stamp on the sound of the recording as his lyrical comrades do on what it says. For that reason, while Bieber remains the star of the release, it’s hard not to hear the ladies and gentlemen who worked with the 18-year-old. The collaborations stand as one of the hallmarks of the album.
Believe sounds like a who’s who of music’s A-list elite, who give Bieber the backup he needs to make a more mature musical statement . With names like Big Sean, Nicki Minaj, Drake and his old pal Ludacris all making cameos, their appearances are highlighted by production credits with pop and hip-hop masters like Diplo, Rodney Jerkins, the Messengers, Mike Posner, Max Martin and Hit-Boy.
Looking at the roster of talent who wanted to work with the maturing pop stud, you find they are mostly artists and producers who have not only been circling Bieber for some time, but also each other.
In fact, it’s easy to connect these folks in six degrees of separation: Drake and Nicki Minaj are no strangers to working with one another, having appeared most recently on “Make Me Proud” off Drake’s Take Care. Nicki has also hooked up with Hit-Boy for several tracks on her Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. And, Hit-Boy’s association with G.O.O.D. Music was famously catalogued on Jay-Z’s and Kanye West’s “N—as in Paris,” which makes him a close, personal friend of Big Sean. Big Sean’s Believe track, “As Long As You Love Me,” got the production treatment from Rodney Jerkins, who previously worked with Ludacris on his song “What Them Girls Like,” which brings us back to Bieber: Bieber and Luda originally laid the foundation for a beautiful friendship on the teen’s defining tune “Baby.”
Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, explained the generation of all of the collaborations to MTV News:
“Kanye was like, ’You should get Big Sean on that record.’ And we’re close with Sean, and Sean just jumped on there. It was very natural,” Braun recalled. “Luda, of course, we did ’Baby.’ We played ’All Around the World,’ and we were like, ’Who would make sense?’ And Justin’s like, ’Luda would kill it.’
“Nicki was getting on another one of our records, and then we did ’Beauty and the Beat,’ and she heard it, and she was like, ’I want to get on that.’ And, actually, we were gonna put Usher on it at first, but then we heard Nicki’s verse, and we were like, ’Damn.’ ”
Of course, those collaborations came up a bit more spur of the moment, but there’s one that had been long in-the-works. “The Drake thing is something he and Drake have been talking about for like two years,” Braun said. “And then they finally went into the studio, and they wrote that song together. … I’m glad that ’Right Here’ came about. … Drake was like, ’I don’t want to do just a rap song. I want to sing with you, do a song for the ladies.’ Everyone seems to love that song.”
Which is your favorite collaboration on Believe? Share your pick below!