Scooter Braun Talks Managing Kanye West: 'He's a Great Listener'
In a wide-ranging interview with Charlie Rose, Scooter Braun talked about discovering Justin Bieber and the challenges of working with one of his newest management clients, Kanye West. "I've known Kanye for about 10 years," Braun said, adding that he'd shied away from mixing business with friendship in the past out of fear of ruining their personal relationship. "And recently I reached out to him kind of just to say, 'how are you?' As a friend, checking in, seeing all the tabloid stuff, just curious."
That basically ended with 'Ye telling the SB Projects boss, "you're doing this," an offer Scooter could not refuse. Braun now shares management duties with West's longtime rep, Izzy Zivkovic. Going into the new relationship earlier this year, Braun told Rose that the one thing he hoped the world sees is the Kanye that he's gotten to know. "A lot of people have an assumption that he might be selfish or arrogant. The guy who I’ve gotten to know -- who I'm learning to translate to others -- is someone who literally got himself in financial trouble because he would give the shirt off his back to help someone."
Braun said West "doesn't know how to say no" when someone needs help, and his frustration often stems from his desire to assist others. "He is the definition of a true artist but at his core he's one of the best people I've ever met," Braun said, adding that he only takes on new clients if he really enjoys being with them.
"I want to help take his journey to where he wants to go," Braun said. “Whether it be with apparel, whether it be with the idea of creativity and putting stuff into the world that changes and shapes culture for a positive way. That’s his goal. He wants to really be a positive force in the world in the most significant way possible."
Check out the video (West portion begins at 14:24)
Braun thinks Kanye has already done a lot of those things -- changing the way music is delivered, making the release of his new Yeezy sneaker runs huge global events, the way he's impacted fashion -- and though he thinks there's something "extremely special" in what West does, he also understands some people's frustrations with how the message is delivered.
"I think he understands," Braun said of sometimes negative way West's efforts are perceived by the public. "I can understand Kanye to a certain point. I think only Kanye can truly understand Kanye. But I think the point isn't to drive people crazy." The point, Braun said, is to step back and not focus on one specific thing West says or does, but to really look at the bigger picture. "With Kanye it's about taking a couple steps back and seeing the whole picture, the whole landscape that makes him so brilliant at what he does."
And lest you think Braun is coming up short and catering to Kanye's ego, Braun said that's not the case at all. He's telling West what's on his mind, whether he wants to hear it or not. And Kanye is listening. "He's a great listener," he said. "And he's someone who takes pieces and puts them together beautifully."