It's just past noon on a cloudy Thursday at the swanky Montage Beverly Hills hotel when a brawny man wearing a tight black T-shirt, black jeans, and shiny boots storms into a private poolside cabana and thrusts his card into my hand. "I'm Justin's security, who are you?" he barks. After I explain to "Sarge" that I'm here from COMPLEX to interview Justin (last name: Bieber), he mellows. Justin, it turns out, is running late-he's still recovering from the removal of all four wisdom teeth, one of which he'd later tell me was infected.
Three years ago, Justin Bieber appeared on the cover of COMPLEX as a fresh-faced 18-year-old. At the time, he was a relatively unblemished teen pop idol-so of course we photographed him in a boxing ring, bloodied and bruised (the blood was fake; the steak he held against his face was not). In the ensuing years, Bieber took his share of lumps: a bad breakup, multiple run-ins with the law, a night in jail for DUI and drag racing, and some head-scratching antics caught on camera, including an infamously belligerent deposition and peeing into a mop bucket. Depending on who you ask, Bieber had either gone full "bad boy" or was simply dealing with the growing pains associated with being a handsome, fabulously wealthy post-adolescent.