Kanye West Joins Forces With Scooter Braun—Why Working With Justin Bieber's Manager Actually Makes Perfect Sense for Him

Both fiercely ambitious and committed to building a brand and changing the music landscape, not to mention Scooter's close with the Kardashians...why, they're kindred spirits!

By Natalie Finn Mar 31, 2016 5:26 PMTags
Scooter Braun, Kanye WestGetty Images

The life of Pablo has taken an interesting turn.

The ever-evolving Kanye West has been quietly working with pop impresario Scooter Braun for about a month, according to multiple sources. Braun has been a friend and confidant of the platinum-selling rapper and we're told that there's no formal managerial agreement between them.

The 34-year-old School Boy Records founder is of course most famous so far for helping Justin Bieber reach the pinnacle of pop superstardom—and then, perhaps more importantly, for giving the youngster a little space to figure out what he was about when the going got rough.

That turned out to be a brilliant maneuver, because Bieber's career—now with grownup tunes!—is going better than ever.

And though Kanye doesn't need to transform creatively (unless he wants to, in which case that's exactly what he'll do), great minds are known to think alike.

"He loves how Scooter's clients are handled, so Kanye is working with him quietly now," another source tells E! News.

Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Roc Nation

Working with Braun doesn't mean that Kanye has cut ties with any of those entities (there was that rumor last year), but there's always room for another brain in the trust. So while it may seem like a match made in no one's thought process, there are actually a number of reasons why this is a canny choice for Kanye.

First of all, the obvious: Scooter, in addition to being a longtime pal of Kanye's, has Kardashian connections. Kris Jenner's beau, Corey Gamble, is one of his road managers, and Braun and Bieber have made cameos on social media accounts belonging to various Kardashians and Jenners of all ages.

Ben Rose/WireImage

At L.A. Staples Center just last week, West joined Bieber backstage during his Purpose Tour and took part in the singer's prayer circle with Braun and Sean "Diddy" Combs. Kimye later made the scene at the after party in Hollywood as well.

The quiet before the storm.... :) @justinbieber @kanyewest @iamdiddy #purposetour

A photo posted by Scooter Braun (@scooterbraun) on

Plus, Scooter and Kanye are at similar places as far as their personal lives, with the manager also having become a husband and father over the past couple years.

And don't let his adorable little name fool you: He is a power player. He hosted a $2,700-a-ticker, star-studded fundraising dinner for Hillary Clinton last summer, the very event where Kim took her famous selfie with the presidential candidate; and aside from having his own label and being co-founder of the Raymond-Braun Media Group with Usher, he's also a philanthropist and investor.

Reminiscent of savvy tech investor Ashton Kutcher, Braun has expanded the boundaries of his day job to help back the likes of Uber, Spotify and Pinterest through his SB Projects—and back in 2013 he formed a reported $120 million investment fund called Ithaca with other managers and artists to quietly get their hands in as many pots in the music business as possible.

The party promoter turned entertainment mogul has also helped raise millions of dollars for brother Adam Braun's education nonprofit Pencils of Promise, which builds schools and trains teachers in impoverished countries. Scooter told The Hollywood Reporter in 2013 that "every deal" he makes has a charitable component, "otherwise we won't do it."

Randy Brooke/Getty Images for Kanye West Yeezy

Considering Kanye's own varied interests, including that presidential run he's promised for 2020, it would seem that these two are kindred spirits. They may go about it differently, but they're both tireless promoters of their work and their brands, and they're possessors of the kind of ambition that most people can't even relate to.

In addition to managing Bieber, Carly Rae Jepsen and breakout star Tori Kelly (all Grammy nominees over the years, with Biebs finally winning his first in January), count TV (Scorpion) and film (The Giver) producer among his credits. Next up, he'll serve as creative executive producer of the 2016 Radio Disney Awards—and it doesn't get more Hot 100 friendly than that.

Moreover, while Kanye isn't exactly long in the tooth at 38, Scooter's influence is right in the pocket when it comes to the youngsters who pop and hip-hop artists need to engage to keep their bread buttered.

It's not as though Braun has been gliding along without conflict, though—another thing these two can chat about on long private-plane trips. There was what seemed like an interminable period in which Bieber seemed determined to self-destruct and torch all the good will he started with. He parted ways with Ariana Grande last month after she decided she needed to head in a new direction professionally after her donut-licking incident. And Jepsen's third album, Emotion, got strong reviews but barely sold.


So, you know…everyone's got troubles. Braun has already been through the career-in-crisis wringer with Bieber ("It was far worse than people realize," Scooter told The New York Times in December), so he's no rookie when it comes to damage control, image rehab and placating the masses.

"Scooter is probably one of the smartest people that I have ever met," Bieber told Vice i-D last year about his longtime friend and manager. "Very, very, very strategic. Always on. Always thinking of more things to do and more things to accomplish. He keeps me driven, for sure. Because the artist always wants to chill. Like, 'I made my money. I just want to chill.' But he figures out ways for me to get excited about what I want."

But, you ask, isn't this all still too down-the-straight-and-narrow, a little too cookie-cutter for Kanye West—the artist whose latest album was a work in progress for weeks after its release and who has sworn off CDs for future releases?

No, because Kanye—no matter how much he tries to squeeze himself into a box—can't be contained, and Scooter seems like the type of manager who understands that. And really, Scooter needs Kanye, too.

Dana Edelson/NBC

Who better to join forces with than someone who is mainstream in popularity yet lives outside of the box creatively? Braun has been doing some serious business, in music and beyond, but if he wants to take his record label to the next level…

There is nothing in life that Kanye West doesn't take to the next level.

—With reporting by Melanie Bromley