Kanye West — now officially known as Ye — is yet again proving himself to be one of the most puzzling pop culture figures by expanding his work into Russia. According to a Billboard report, the rapper, fashion mogul, and flagrant hot mess is expanding his ventures to Moscow, where he plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin later in the year and hold some of his questionable Sunday Service performances.
Depending on his schedule, Ye will head for Russia this spring or summer. His strategic advisor Ameer Sudan and attorney Scott Balber are currently acting as liaisons between Ye and Azerbaijani-Russian billionaire real estate developer Aras Agalarov (as well as his son, Emin), who is a client of Balber’s. Though Ye’s exact endeavors are still under wraps, Sudan told Billboard that Russia will be “a second home” for the rapper, who “will be spending a lot of time out there.”
Agalarov is also a close associate of Putin, and has often been dubbed the “Trump of Russia” based on the self-branding of his buildings. Frankly, these connections check out, considering Putin’s eyebrow-raising cahoots with Donald Trump, whom Ye infamously met in the Oval Office and publicly supported in the 2020 presidential election.
Sudan adds that Ye has been wanting to perform in Russia and meet with Putin since he debuted his Sunday Service project back in 2019. New US sanctions against Russia have made traveling between the two countries difficult, and the US Department of State currently lists Russia with a level 4 “do not travel” advisory, citing terrorism, harassment by Russian government security officials, and arbitrary enforcement of local law. But where there’s a Ye, there’s a way.
“This is Ye, Ye is going to get there regardless,” Sudan said. “What are they going to say? He’s going to be a special guest of the Agalarovs. Kanye knows what’s going on more than the average human being, he’s well aware of things. And it’s nothing against the United States or to cause conflicts, but Ye is Ye — he can’t be controlled.”
Update: A representative for Kanye pushed back against the story in a statement to Rolling Stone, saying it’s, “Entirely fabricated. Work of fiction or wishful thinking from these Russian people.”
We can expect to learn more about the ever-mystifying Ye in jeen-yuhs, the forthcoming Netflix three-part documentary about the artist.