Sunday night’s American Music Awards said it all: There’s a new Justin in town.
The 16-year-old wunderkind — a title the multi-instrumentalist can legitimately claim — Justin Bieber won four awards (all fan-voted) during the ABC broadcast, including artist of the year and album of the year for My World 2.0. He was also named one of Barbara Walter’s “10 Most Fascinating People of 2010.” One year to the week since his debut EP My World was released, it marked the pinnacle of a well-orchestrated campaign by his label, Island Records, and management team, led byScooter Braun, who had famously discovered the teen’s talent through videos Bieber and his mother had posted on YouTube. The rest, as they say, is pop music history.
So who is the brains behind the Biebs?
Many in the industry had known Braun for years. A fixture on the Atlanta club scene from his college years on, the New York City-born Braun, who grew up in Greenwich, Conn., was both an influencer and everybody’s friend, having dabbled in everything from club promotion to party planning to, yes, talent scouting. He counts Ludacris and Jermaine Dupri among his pals and mentors, but for every big name he’s affiliated with, there were likely a dozen others who claimed to know Braun like a brother.
What those people probably don’t know, however, is that Braun the baller, who was famously called “King of the White Girls” in a Creative Loafing cover story titled “The Hustla” (Braun insists the nickname actually belonged to producer Polow da Don), is also the grandson of Holocaust survivors, a nurturing sibling to two adopted brothers from Mozambique, and a man who, like his ancestors, is driven equally by fear and ambition.
A fascinating study of the American dream—even if it does involve making a star out of a Canadian — The Hollywood Reporter talked to Braun, who also manages rapper Asher Roth, about how he got here and where he’s going.