YouTube’s Global Head of Music Lyor Cohen, who began his storied career as the road manager for Run-DMC, took a lot of heat after appearing in an image with a MAGA-hat wearing Kanye West. In the photo, he gave the “OK” sign, one which has been linked to alt-right memes.
In a new interview with Pitchfork — discussing the launch of YouTube’s new streaming service — Cohen struck down the notion he was supporting the alt right, and explained how the infamous photo came to light.
“Isn’t that scuba for when you’re in the water, and you’re all good?” Cohen asked, noting that he was not aware of the symbol’s connotations. As he explains, the photo was merely an organic moment and not a staged moment he thought would end up on social media.
“I was on the way to the restroom, and there was [Universal Music Group CEO Lucian Grainge], and Kanye was coming out, and he said, ‘Oh wow, we’re all together. Let’s take a photo,’ Cohen said. “I thought he was going to take a photo and send it to Lucian and myself. I had no idea that he was going to put that on social media.”
The former head of 300 Entertainment was in Calabasas because Ye wanted to play him music, which he says was amazing. “I don’t love his politics, but I was impressed with the music. I think he’s doing himself a disservice by not leading with the music.”
Read the full interview here.