For the new episode of his always extensive podcast, Bill Simmons was joined by manager extraordinaire Scooter Braun. Though there's no way to condense their entire 90-minute discussion into a digestible mini-article, Braun did offer several Kanye West stories and anecdotes that are worth trying to boil down into text.
"Kanye and his family are, you know, in the limelight in a way that very few people will ever understand," Braun explained around the 29-minute mark in the clip up top. "Like, they come over for a movie and there are people just camped outside my house. Just paparazzi with ladders. It's weird. But at the end of the day, he's an absolute creative genius. Life of Pablo is the first album that only was released streaming that ever went No. 1 on the Billboard chart. The tour that he did with the floating stage, that tour is the biggest tour of his entire career. It's the best show I think I've ever been to, as far as the energy and everything else. Chris Rock came, at the Garden, and he was like 'I've seen everyone play the Garden. This is the best show I've ever seen.'"
Simmons then asked Braun to look back on his first meeting with West. "Kanye and I met originally on the Ludacris 'Stand Up' video," he said. "He had just signed to Roc-A-Fella. He was a producer, wasn't an artist yet, as far as, like, putting out music. He was at the video, and I'm starring in the video and he does a cameo in the video because he's a producer of the song, and we met on the side kind of talking to each other. Then, I did Music Midtown in Atlanta. I consulted for them and I booked all the stages and I booked Kanye, and we hung out there."
Though the two stayed in touch over the years, it wasn't until a fateful tweet inspired a wave of headlines that Braun and West started working together. "Then years later, Kanye puts out that tweet saying he's 56 million dollars in debt," Braun said. "I'm his friend, so I called him just to say 'Are you okay?' No business, nothing. And then we started talking and he's like, 'You should manage me, be part of this team.' I said 'I don't wanna manage you, I just wanna be your friend.'"
West remained persistent, however, ultimately making Braun his manager without first informing Braun he had done so. "Literally a week later, I said 'When you get back in town in two weeks, we'll sit down and talk and see how I can help you out,' but it wasn't, like, work together. And I get a phone call two days later from Def Jam and from Adidas, both saying we were told to talk to you and that you're Kanye's manager. I call him up and I'm like, 'Dude, what the hell?' and he's like, 'I don't have time to wait, you're it, you're in.' I became his manager from that point on. We started co-managing with [Izzy Zivkovic] and we've been managing Kanye for two years."
The moment Braun realized West's genius, as he revealed later in the interview, was during Saint Pablo tour rehearsals. "I see Kanye walk out to the middle of the floor and he takes a phone and he's, like, looking down and he's shooting pictures, and Kanye's not, like, a selfie guy. So I'm like 'What is he doing?' So I walk over and I ask him, and he says 'I'm taking selfies to see what the fans will be doing, like what it looks like to make sure it's right, because I'm building the show for them.' He knew the culture of where kids are today and what they like and what they do, and he built a show that would be shot by their iPhones better than any other show before it."
Catch the full Simmons x Braun chat up top.