Scooter Braun sat down with Complex’s Noah Callahan-Bever for the latest episode of Blueprint. In the interview, posted Monday (Nov. 13), Braun detailed his blueprint for getting to where he is today as one of music’s most successful managers, with a roster list including Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Martin Garrix and more.
Braun provided commentary on various aspects of his personal life — journeying all the way from being a young kid making fake IDs to becoming Atlanta’s hottest party promoter, and eventually working for Jermaine Dupri at So So Def.
Below are anecdotes Braun shared about the artists he has worked with in his career.
On Jermaine Dupri:
Dupri started going to parties in Atlanta that Braun was putting on — popular because Braun had access to the college scene, which artists wanted to use to test out new music. Dupri would bring his then-girlfriend, Janet Jackson. One night, he called Braun and asked him to meet. He wanted Braun to come work for him at So So Def — within six months, he was Vice President of Marketing.
Things didn’t end so well, though: In the final year, Braun got into the notion of using “social media to break acts,” which Dupri wasn’t buying in on. Braun decided he wanted to do things his way, but not before Dupri and his mother — who “liked to be involved with the business stuff,” and insulted Braun and other employees while claiming Dupri could easily be doing this without them — left a letter on his desk saying that they had “released” him, after Braun had been hanging out with Dupri the night before.
On Lil Jon:
“I’m in London at a place called Cabaret, which was the hot night club of London at the time,” Braun said, “Jon and I started talking — and a lot of people don’t know this, but Jon actually worked at So So Def for 12 years as an A&R.”
Braun continued to explain the career advice Lil Jon gave to him that night, which resonates with him to this day: “He told me, ‘I tried to let Jermaine be Lil Jon and do that, but he wanted me to be an A&R. Don’t take 12 years.’ That really sat with me of, like, you gotta do your own thing.”
On Justin Bieber:
Braun detailed the early struggle to get Bieber signed, and how nobody believed him that he could make a kid from YouTube the biggest artist in the world — until it was undeniable.
“I know for my mom, when she finally understood what I did for living,” Braun remembered. “We were at [Madison Square] Garden, at Z100 Jingle Ball, and Justin was like the fourth act in. It was his first Jingle Ball, and John Mayer, while he was performing, they started chanting ‘JUS-TIN! JUS-TIN!’ And John goes, ‘I know what you guys are here to see. I’ll do one more song, and I’ll leave.'”
Of course, Braun can’t do an interview without being asked about Bieber’s very public rough patch in 2013-14. “When he turns 18, he had a rough patch,” Braun interrupted, sensing where the interview was going. “Is that what you’re talking about?… I think that’s his story to tell, and I think at the right time he’ll tell the complete story. I think — funny enough — his perspective and maybe some of who were there are going to be very different, because a lot of it, he doesn’t remember.”
Braun continued: “To me, the only point I had where it was, ‘Is it over?’ wasn’t a scary career over. I thought I was going to lose him. I thought he was going to die, you know? That was the scariest point, because he was an adult, so he could go away from me. I couldn’t force him to stay next to me. There were points where I didn’t know if in the morning he was going to be there, and I was petrified.”
On Asher Roth:
When Braun left So So Def, he decided to quit the party scene “cold turkey” and plan out the money he had accumulated for the next 13 months — investing totally in Bieber and Roth.
“Month 11, I had Justin and his mom living in a tiny townhouse around the corner from me that I’m paying all the bills [for]. I got all the furniture in there from Aaron’s Rents. I’m paying his schooling, I’m paying hockey,” Braun explained. “Everything is coming out of me. And I have Asher in a house a block away from [Bieber], with his buddies that he brought with him, and I’m paying all their bills, their rent, their everything. And on Month 11 of 13, when I’m done, I’m broke, my dad actually called … and I just broke down crying.
“I was like, ‘Dad, I’m done. I’m two months away from being done, and I’m a failure and no one knows.’ My dad was like, ‘You’ve come this far, just see it through. You’ve got two more months. See what happens.’ The next day, Asher came and played me “I Love College,” and the publishing deal saved our company.”
On Kanye West:
In early 2016, Braun was personally asked by Kanye to become his “co-manager” after the two had been friends for a long time.
“I think the secret to that relationship is the secret to any relationship [which] is respect,” Braun said. “I have the utmost respect for him. I’ve worked with a lot of different people, and he is very special. He’s a genius. Creatively, he is an absolute genius. He’s a really good person. He’s a good guy. [He may] have these moments publicly, but behind closed doors, the guy is an amazing listener and just a good human being.
“I don’t want to speak too much to it because I have a lot respect for him, but I can tell you, for all those fans out there who are constantly rooting for Kanye, he’s worth rooting for. He’s a great guy.”
Watch Braun’s full Blueprint below: