Usher is defending Justin Bieber after footage of him telling racist jokes leaked last week.

The singer famously beat out Justin Timberlake to sign Justin, then 13, to his record label. According to Usher, Justin’s behaviour is disappointing but he truly believes the 20-year-old is not racist.

"At my core, I am a person that supports growth and understands without judgment, that growth often comes as a result of pain and continues effort,” he said in a message posted on Instagram on Saturday.

The star also posted a throwback picture of him and Justin with his arm around the young pop singer.

“As I have watched Justin Bieber navigate difficult waters as a young man, I can tell you that he hasn't always chosen the path of his greatest potential, but he is unequivocally not a racist," he said.

Usher goes on to explain that five years is a huge amount of time for a teenager and Justin has grown significantly since the footage was taken.

The You Make Me Wanna star insists Justin had no idea of how terrible his words were and puts it down to childish ignorance rather than actual racism.

"What he was five years ago was a naïve child who did not understand the negative power and degradation that comes from playing with racial slurs," Usher continued. "What he is now is a young man faced with an opportunity to become his best self, an example to the millions of kids that follow him to not make the same mistakes."

Justin has apologized for the video since it leaked, saying he has grown significantly since the footage was taken and takes full responsibility for himself.