Diplo Says People Treated Justin Bieber 'Like a Clown on a Pedestal'
By John Boone
Diplo is coming to Justin Bieber's defense.
Not over the 22-year-old pop star's latest drama -- an all-out brawl in Cleveland -- but his music. Diplo masterminded Bieber's hit, "Where Are Ü Now," with Skrillex and in July's issue of Billboard magazine, recalled an emotional moment he had with Biebs in a Las Vegas nightclub.
"He had just turned 21 and he was like, 'Yo, man, I want to thank you, because this is the first time I've ever had adults clap for me. This is like a big deal,'" Diplo said. "You think about that, and yeah, he was kind of like a clown on a pedestal. People just like picked on him."
The track earned Bieber his first GRAMMY nomination this year and when ET spoke with the DJ on the red carpet ahead of the awards show, Diplo echoed a similar sentiment about helping orchestrate the "Sorry" singer's return to the music scene.
"I think he just loves new music. And I think he changed and grew a lot the last couple years," he told us. "It's amazing to see him be excited about what we're doing and just take a chance with us. That's all we ask as producers is someone to like give us that faith and just let us do what we do, what we're good at, and I think he did. And we all won in the end."
Meanwhile, Diplo opened up to Billboard about another favorite collaborator: Beyoncé, with whom he crafted two Lemonade tracks. "I wish I was Beyoncé! She does one thing, and that’s Beyoncé. I envy that," he said. "She's one of the only artists who can culminate a body of work so concisely. Nobody does that anymore."
As for an artist the "Lean On" producer is dying to work with, the answer may surprise you.
"I've been stalking Sam Hunt," he revealed of the country singer. "I think he can go multi-format in the Taylor Swift way."
Bieber was in Cleveland, Ohio, on Wednesday for the NBA Finals, where he exchanged blows with a man outside his hotel and was knocked to the ground, forcing his bodyguard to intervene.
"He was hanging out outside the hotel and had been getting harassed by people walking by," an eyewitness told ET. "Mostly guys making fun of him and [he was getting] hounded for pictures, so he was a bit on edge."
"[Bieber] was apparently talking to the girl this guy was with and when the guy stepped in, Bieber told him he would f**k him up," the eyewitness explained of the incident "That's when fists started flying."