Usher Recalls Justin Timberlake Bidding War In The 2000s Over Fresh-Faced Justin Bieber

The U Got It Bad singer is recalling just how in demand The Biebs really was — and how he convinced him not to sign with a fellow Justin.
Usher, Justin Bieber and Justin Timberlake.
Usher, Justin Bieber and Justin Timberlake.
Left: John Locher/Associated Press; Center: Evan Agostini/Invision/Associated Press; Right: Jordan Strauss/Invision/Associated Press

Usher still has some confessions — and just made a big one about two famous Justins.

The Yeah! singer recalled in an interview with People last week that he and Justin Timberlake were in an active bidding war over Justin Bieber in the late 2000s.

While Usher had already conquered the industry by storm, Justin was only four or five years old at the time.

“When you are at the top of your game, some of the greatest things will be presented to you, and it was, I think, right after Confessions that I was introduced to Justin Bieber and Scooter Braun [Justin’s then-manager],” Usher told the outlet for an exclusive cover story.

“I presented Scooter an offer that I felt like he couldn’t resist,” he added. “We built a friendship, but this would obviously create a partnership that would span us forever, and it was a bit of a bidding war between me and Justin Timberlake.”

The Biebs ultimately signed to Usher and Scooter’s joint record label, Raymond Braun Media Group, in 2008 — and became one of the most famous singers of all time. That wasn’t guaranteed at the time, however, requiring Usher to assure Scooter about signing Justin.

“I was like, ‘I’m not certain that I could understand each and every producer that this artist could benefit from, but what I can tell you is I’m going to give you my passion,’” Usher told People, “‘And I’m going to give you every bit of what I have to offer.’”

While Scooter was apparently hesitant to manage Justin, and had previously only worked as a marketing executive, Usher gave him the necessary courage to take on their new protégé. Justin himself required similar convincing before rejecting his namesake, however.

Usher and Bieber, seen here at the "Justin Bieber's Believe" premiere in 2013, are still friends.
Usher and Bieber, seen here at the "Justin Bieber's Believe" premiere in 2013, are still friends.
Eric Charbonneau via Getty Images

“There can only be one Justin,” Usher recalled telling the Baby singer about choosing the former *NSYNC star.

“So if you want to go with Justin, that’s Justin and Justin,” he continued. “Me, it’s only one Justin. So that obviously created a relationship and that support of him as an entrepreneur, because I think that he was trying to find himself as well.”

Usher helped make the future chart-topper a global superstar with two Grammy wins and 29 nods under his belt. He has yet to work with Justin Timberlake, however, despite Usher purportedly having tried to. Perhaps now, after becoming a fellow Super Bowl halftime alum, that could change.

“I’ve always wanted to do a record with Justin and I have reached out many times, but we’ve never managed to make it happen,” he told People, adding: “I think that he is an amazing performer, and I think that he has a legacy that should be respected.”


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