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How an immigrant from Kazakhstan became the creative director and friend of Kanye West


Alina Prikhodko

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Aisha Shayakhmetova, together with her husband Marat, left Kazakhstan for the United States in 2008 and began promoting the most popular brands Nike and Adidas, as well as sports and show business stars, including Serena Williams, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Chris Brown and many others. According to Forbes.Kz, the couple even became part of the team of the notorious rapper Kanye West.

Since moving to the USA in 2008, Aisha has had many high-profile projects in her life. At first the guys got clients, they worked on small projects as freelancers, and the creative agency The Neue School appeared later.

“I helped produce events, Marat began taking photographs and shooting videos. So we grew up to Nike, and they told us: “Guys, if you open your own agency, we will hire you,” the girl noted.

At the end of 2019, Ayse's childhood friend became Kanye West's manager and invited her to organize a sports event. Kanye wanted to release new sneakers during a basketball game in Chicago. The team proposed to take 30 Ukrainian Sherp all-terrain vehicles, which in the United States are called “Kanye tanks,” and release them into the city to distribute free shoes. In theory, Kanye himself was supposed to be in one of the tanks, and the public had to guess where exactly the rapper would appear.

“In the end, the event was more than successful. After the concert, I was invited to the dressing room, where Kanye said that he liked everything and that we would meet in his office tomorrow morning. Later they explained to me that I had been hired,” recalls Aisha.

New career period

After holding sports events in February 2020, Aisha was appointed head Yeezy Sport. However, the pandemic began, so all events and releases were cancelled. Then the girl began creative research, the tasks for which Kanye himself gave. For example, he was interested in the creations of the architect Ando, ​​the mathematician Mobius, and the director Jodorowsky.

On the subject: How a 24-year-old director and clip maker from Kazakhstan shoots videos for rapper Offset, Jah Khalib and Ivan Dorn

The direction and professional role of working with Kanye changed approximately every two months - he constantly tested what his employees were capable of. For example, once as a gift for Kim Kardashian’s 40th birthday, Aisha created a hologram of her deceased father using deepfake technology. According to the rapper's plan, the hologram of Robert Kardashian was supposed to say that Kim married the most, most, most brilliant person of our time, and Aisha had to write the rest of his speech.

In the summer of 2020, Kanye took the team to Cody, Wyoming for four months. There West was writing a new album - and, as it later turned out, it was during that period that he decided to run for president. Having learned that the girl’s father is a diplomat (and she has a KIMEP diploma in international relations), he immediately took Aisha into his political campaign.

From June to October 2021, Aisha, together with other specialists, worked on Donda’s next studio album. She thinks through the details - from concert locations to advertising billboards.

“Kanye became our only client, but there was a complete impression that we had ten of them, because we had to become an even bigger problem solver,” the girl admitted. The project ended with a grandiose show at the stadium for 75 thousand spectators going wild with delight. In this tight schedule, Aisha's greatest pleasure was finding an hour for a manicure. There was no time for long conversations with her family, and even during their vacation in the USA, the girl spent most of her time in the office. Today she is reaping the fruits of her efforts in the form of offers from cool companies, although officially she is still on the rapper’s team.

“When Kanye was blocked on Twitter and Instagram, I didn’t feel scared for my career - this guy can handle more than that. They wanted to cancel him after his clash with Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2009. But the events of 2023 pushed him to fire our publicist. This employee posted my number with the comment that I was Kanye’s right hand, and the media began calling me continuously. I had to turn off my phone for three days,” Aisha shared.

“Everyone says he has bipolar disorder. There is an outer shell that the world sees. Very odious, aggressive, loves shocking things. And there is a very calm person, a real genius, he has a lot of ideas. He knows how to listen very well, remembers what you tell him,” the girl said about working with the rapper. – It so happened that he and I crossed the line of just working together and became friends. I realized that he is a very lonely person. Their divorce from Kim affected me the most. I had to be next to him at that moment and kind of empathize with all these emotions. In 2023, when he began his statements, I was afraid that he would be killed,” she admitted.

Tough times

Together with the scandalous rapper, they experienced many exciting moments. Many large companies they worked with refused to cooperate. Constant media pressure added fire to the already difficult and exhausting work of the team. Aisha works for Kanye to this day, no matter how strange it may sound in the context of his reputation as the “number one anti-hero.”

“I wouldn’t like to tell Kanye that I’m leaving right now: over the past three years, while he was going through divorce and other difficult moments for himself, we became emotionally close and became friends. This is betrayal. But now Ye is only designing clothes, and I have nothing to help him with. It's strange to wake up and not see hundreds of missed calls and messages. It’s strange to dedicate the whole day to yourself, meet friends, go to yoga, walk the dog. I’m enjoying the moment and I’m in no hurry to start a difficult conversation, wanting to extend this strange vacation,” Shayakhmetova admitted.

The girl’s professional life cannot be seen on Instagram – since childhood she likes to keep her personal life a secret. One day, Elon Musk sent a plane for them, and they spent the day at SpaceX watching the test launch of one of the rockets. But the girl considers this bragging and does not share this even with her parents.

“At the beginning of my journey, I didn’t quite understand where I was going, but I believed that all events were not accidental. I got my first job in the States after seeing an advertising poster in the entrance. I came to the event, met the organizer and started learning how to do events. I wasn’t afraid of risks and meeting people, I slowly built connections,” shared Aisha.

The girl does not know a specific recipe for how to build a successful case in the USA. Aisha even decided to share her experience only after working for Kanye West. The only advice is to work hard and not miss opportunities.

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